ECC Ireland secures refunds totalling €112,058.69 for consumers last year!
We have just issued our annual report and this month’s e-bulletin looks at the main problems reported by consumers last year. Our consumer query of the month deals with the collapse of a holiday booking website, while our success story involves a consumer who had difficulties with collecting train tickets in France.
2012 was a busy year for ECC Ireland. We helped over 3,300 consumers last year and obtained refunds of over €112,000, an increase of 40% on the amount secured in 2011.
As we have seen in previous years, the biggest category of complaint was in the area of air passenger rights, which accounted for 40% of the cases that required further assistance from ECC Ireland. The majority of these complaints related to cancelled and delayed flights, while damaged, delayed and lost luggage as well as airline’s baggage policies, were also major sources of grievance. Another contentious area for consumers in this sector involved airlines’ terms and technical difficulties experienced while booking online, a problem which is increasing as more and more consumers chose to book their flights independently over the internet.
The other top areas of complaint were electronic goods, car rental, entertainment (a category which includes satellite television and event tickets), car rental and furniture.
Complaints relating to electronic goods and other recreational items ranked as the second largest area of consumer complaints in cases where ECC Ireland liaised with traders directly on behalf of consumers. Problems with faulty products constituted the main cause of complaint, while issues with delivery and payment arrangements were also frequently reported. The vast majority (89%) of consumer complaints in this area involved online transactions.
Our report was launched by MEP for the North West Marian Harkin who said “More and more people are buying online and more and more people are buying cross-border. While there are laws in place to help protect consumer rights, it can often be difficult to vindicate those rights because of language problems, different legal systems and attempted fraudulent trading.”
You can read our full report here https://www.eccireland.ie/downloads/Annual_Report_2012_PDF_Web.pdf
Consumer Query of the Month
I made a hotel booking with an online booking agent for my family holiday next month in Spain. I have recently received an email stating that the company has filed for insolvency and that my booking may have been cancelled. What are my rights?
Unfortunately, there is currently no legislation protecting consumers making independent travel arrangements from the collapse of holiday companies. However, consumers who paid with a credit card are likely to be able to claim through the industry’s voluntary “chargeback” arrangements. Many debit cards are also covered by this scheme. Unfortunately, travellers who booked via another method may find it very difficult to recover the sums paid. They will need to make a claim to the administrators of the company but it is important to bear in mind that consumers rank as unsecured creditors and there is usually insufficient funds to meet all creditor claims.
We would recommend that you contact your accommodation provider directly to verify whether your booking is still valid. If the accommodation provider has not been paid by the booking website, your reservation may have been cancelled and you may be required to pay again if you wish to stay. In this instance you should immediately contact your bank to request a chargeback of the original amount paid. You may also wish to contact your travel insurer to see whether this event is covered under your policy.
The European Commission has recently announced that it is taking action to improve consumer protection by modernising EU rules on package holidays. You can read more about the proposals here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-663_en.htm
This month’s Success Story:
An Irish consumer booked two train tickets online with a French rail company to travel from Paris to Marseille, which were to be collected at the train station in Paris. In order to verify the booking the consumer was asked to provide the booking confirmation and his credit card. Upon his return to Ireland the consumer discovered that he was charged again for the ticket at the train station. The consumer complained to the trader and was asked to provide the original tickets to enable the trader to investigate the matter. After a few months the investigation was yet to be completed, and eventually the trader stopped responding to the consumer’s communication. The consumer contacted ECC Ireland which in turn sought the assistance of ECC France. Following ECC France’s intervention the trader agreed to refund the consumer the additional charge of €164.
New rules on cosmetics came into effect last month which will help ensure strengthened safety standards and better information for consumers. You can read more about these new regulations here
This Month’s Survey
Here in ECC Ireland we are always interested to hear what you think. This month we would like to know if you have ever been left out of pocket due to the collapse of a holiday company? www.eccireland.ie.