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Dublin, Monday 27th August 2018 – Air travel continues to be the most complained about cross-border consumer issue, according to ECC Ireland’s Annual Report 2017, which was published today. The report shows that the top five consumer complaints for 2017 are air travel, furniture, electronic products, car rental and accommodation.

In 2017, ECC Ireland dealt with 4,108 total contacts from consumers (cross-border complaints and requests for information). Cross-border cases actively pursued by ECC Ireland and requiring further assistance from the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) came to 1,031, a jump of almost 45 per cent on the figure for the previous year (just 719 in 2016).

ECC Ireland spokesperson, Martina Nee, said: ‘With 385 cases actively pursued by ECC Ireland, air passenger rights was once again the most popular area of complaint in 2017. This category has held the top spot year-after-year. With thousands of people traveling by air sometimes difficulties can arise. Often it is resolved through the airline’s own complaint procedure but sometimes consumers require further assistance in seeking redress. By liaising with airlines based in another EU/EEA country on their behalf, ECC Ireland and the wider ECC-Net has assisted many of these consumers to avail of their rights under EU legislation and to reach an amicable solution.

For the first time since 2014, furniture moved up into second place in our top five with 146 cases dealt with, mainly due to difficulties experienced with problematic replica and designer furniture companies. This was followed by electronic products with 106 cases, an increase of 85 per cent between 2016 and 2017, which could be attributed to the increased popularity of cross-border online shopping for such items. Car rental, which came in fourth place with 99 cases, has always been problematic for consumers as there is no sector-specific legislation that can curtail the ability of some car rental traders to treat consumers unfairly; We would certainly welcome a change here. Accommodation experienced an increase in complaints (54 per cent between 2017 with 60 cases and 2016 with 39). This may be explained by the popularity of consumers booking their own holidays online, which did not benefit from the protections of package travel legislation, and the rise of accommodation sharing platforms.’

Of the 1,031 cross-border cases that required direct intervention on behalf of consumers, 327 involved Irish consumers against traders based in other European countries while 704 cases related to complaints by consumers from other European countries against traders based in Ireland.

 

***ENDS***

Notes to Editor

ECC Ireland’s Annual Report 2017 key findings of the top five cross-border complaints/cases:

Air passenger rights

  • There were 385 cases dealt with by ECC Ireland, the majority of which were complaints made by consumers based in another European country against Irish airlines.
  • Flight cancellations and delays were the number one cause for air passenger-related complaints. This was followed by complaints of a more general nature and which are often governed by the terms and conditions of the contract between the airline and passengers.
  • The third highest category of air travel complaints pertained to damaged, delayed or lost luggage and problems with the baggage policy of the airline.

Furniture

  • There were 146 cases dealt with by ECC Ireland – 95 per cent of these complaints were from consumers based in other EU/EEA countries against web-traders registered in Ireland.
  • Although some issues related to the quality of the goods and non-delivery, most complaints related to unfair terms in consumer contracts, unfair commercial practices, and a failure of traders to comply with the pre-contractual information requirements and the withdrawal previsions under Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights.

Electronic goods

  • 106 cases in this area required direct intervention by ECC Ireland. Of these, 48 complaints were from consumers resident in Ireland against traders based elsewhere in EU/EEA while the remaining 58 were from consumers resident in other EU/EEA countries who lodged complaints against traders based in Ireland.
  • The main area of complaint involved faulty/defective smartphones. Other problems were delayed/non-delivery and the 14-day cooling off period.

Car rental

  • There were 99 complaints dealt with by ECC Ireland, 54 were pursued on behalf of consumers from Ireland against car rental companies based in other EU/EEA countries, whilst the remaining 45 complaints were made against Irish traders by consumers resident in another European country.
  • As with previous years, the key issues reported related to charges imposed in the post-rental stage due to alleged damage, fuel surcharges, and road traffic fines. Other complaints related to deposits not refunded for a significant period, refusal to provide services and mis-selling of insurance products.

Accommodation

  • 60 cases in this area required the direct intervention of ECC Ireland, 38 per cent of which were against Irish based traders.
  • Most complaints received concerned bookings made through online intermediaries/booking agents – difficulties trying to cancel, not knowing who the contract was with, standard and quality of the accommodation. Other complaints concerned overcharging, mistakes with booking details and problems during the booking process.

Download the full ECC Ireland Annual Report 2017 here for more information including case studies.

ECC Ireland is part of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), which covers 30 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland), and offers a free and confidential information and advice service to the public on their rights as consumers, assisting consumers with cross-border disputes. ECC Ireland is co-financed by the European Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

For more information contact: Martina Nee, ECC Ireland press and communications manager, (0)1 8797643/ (085) 8895333, or email mnee@eccireland.ie. ECC Ireland can also be found on Twitter @eccireland.