Important ECC Ireland update

The European Consumer Centre (ECC) in Ireland is undergoing a change – and it isn’t just our website! The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has applied to the European Commission to be the new provider for the ECC Ireland service. The CCPC is in the process of setting up a new ECC Ireland service.

How we can help today

If you are having difficulties with a cross-border business, our new website will help you assert your rights. We provide information across a wide range of topics from buying online and service contracts to flights, package holidays and car rental. We have also developed a range of easy-to-use letter templates, which will help you assert those rights and tell the business how you want your problem to be fixed.

If your problem is still not resolved, our Take Action section sets out your next options depending on your circumstances.

Our new service

As the CCPC is setting up a new service, there will be a transition period while we put in place all the expertise we need to continue the important work of the ECC Network.

When our new service is in place, you will be able to make a complaint to our case-handling team through our website. Keep an eye on this website for updates on when the new service will open.

Existing complaints

The previous provider of this service closed on the 31 December 2023. Unfortunately, we are unable to progress the complaints that were made to the previous provider. If you have already made a complaint, you will receive an update via the email address you used when making the complaint.

There are steps, however, that you can take to progress your complaint:

  • Firstly, if you haven’t, you will need to make a formal complaint in writing to the business with which you are having a problem. You will need to have completed this step before you will be able to avail of any other formal remedies.
  • If you have already made a complaint to the business and are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, read our Take Action’ section on this site as it sets out your next options depending on your circumstances.
  • Finally, you will be able to submit your complaint when our new service is open. We expect to have a team of dedicated complaint handlers in place in the coming months. We will announce on our website when the new service is open.

Who else can help me with a complaint?

  • If your complaint is about a trader registered in Ireland, you will need to contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. You can do so through their website or by calling their consumer helpline on 01 402 5555. The CCPC’s website also provides extensive information about your consumer rights.
  • If your complaint is about a cancelled flight, you were denied boarding or had a long flight delay that originated in Ireland, you can contact the Irish Aviation Authority.
  • Your financial institution – depending on the timeframe, you may be able to dispute the transaction with your bank, using their chargeback process. Read more about chargebacks and when they apply.

Flight cancelled due to severe weather? Here’s what you are entitled to.

With two storms, Isha and Jocelyn, sweeping over the country in recent days, almost 200 flights were cancelled at Dublin airport. It was much the same at other Irish airports and across Northern Europe too, with dozens of flights cancelled due to heavy rain and gale-force winds.

Whatever the reason behind the cancellation of your flight, you are always entitled to choose between an alternative flight or a full refund on your ticket. However, you are unlikely to be able to claim compensation.

What happens if your flight gets cancelled?

Under Regulation (EC) 261/2004, airlines must offer you a refund or a re-routing on the next available flight, or at a later time of your choosing.

If you select a refund the airline should process the refund within seven days of the cancellation of your flight. The refund must include the cost of your ticket and a return flight to the airport of departure if you have a connecting flight.

If you ask for the next available flight, the airline must provide care and assistance as long as you are waiting. If you are re-routed to a different airport in the same city, the airline must pay for your transport to the original airport.

What is ‘care and assistance’?

If you are waiting for the next available flight, the airline has to ensure you have meals and refreshments. You are also entitled to overnight accommodation if you are to be re-routed the day after your planned flight, the airline must cover the cost of transport to and from the hotel to the airport.

How do I make a claim to the airline?

Send copies of all receipts to the airline, including the booking references, passenger details and the original and new flight information.
You can use our Flight cancellation template letter to help you make a claim.

Am I entitled to compensation?

In short no you are not. Airlines are not required to compensate passengers for cancellations or disruption in circumstances beyond their control; severe adverse weather conditions are outside their control.

My flight was cancelled and I booked it through a travel agent or booking website what are my options?

You should be offered the same options of

  • a full ticket refund or
  • re-routing to your final destination

If you choose a refund, you will have two options:

  • ask the airline to refund your ticket
  • ask the intermediary party to refund your ticket

Airlines are responsible for refunding your ticket, even if you have booked using an intermediary service. Airlines are required to reimburse you within 7 days of the cancellation of your flight. There is no such time limit for intermediary parties. It is therefore often fastest to ask for your money back with the airline.

Seeing sense in the January sales

The January sales season is upon us. With everyone’s pockets stretched it is more important than ever that we get the most out of our money.  use cash reserves wisely. Follow our smart spending guide to this year’s January sales:

Avoid the impulse purchase

“Ten other people are looking at this product right now” or “only three left!”: many businesses use have clever messages to influence your behaviour.  It’s important to try and keep some perspective on what we really need versus what we want. Even if something appears to be a bargain, the first question to ask is whether you actually need it or is it just because it is on offer. This will help you resist buying on impulse. Compare the price and quality of the product in other stores or online. This is particularly important for higher-value products.

Stay wise

It’s vital that you are not swayed into a purchase by a sales pitch – especially if you are promised huge discounts. Be on guard that the product may actually be poor value or poor quality. At a time when sustainability is a major concern, investing in higher-quality and durable products that will last for longer is often the smarter choice.

Don’t be duped!

As the saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it usually is. Particularly if what you are buying is expensive, it is very important that you do your homework before you buy. Search online for the business’s web address and reviews. Keep an eye out for independent review websites. Is there an address and phone number on the site? There should be. Do they provide terms and conditions? If so, make sure to read them.

Check if the deal is right

Under new rules, if a business is advertising a sale price, they must also show the prior price. The prior price is the lowest price the product was on sale for in the 30 days before the sale. This means a business can’t hike up their prices a few days before a sale and claim a big discount. Make sure to check the prior price: does it look like the normal price you would pay?
The way to be really sure that you’re getting a good deal is to track the price of your chosen product to see if the end price represents a genuine, net reduction after tax and shipping. Finally, always look at the final price rather than the saving discount, and make sure that price comparison claims between competitors are based on like-for-like products or versions.

Be in the know

You might have noticed that sales on services have become much more popular. Watch out for deals on subscriptions and packages, particularly when advertised through free trials and low-cost introductory offers that you get by signing up to a long-term subscription. You will see these mostly online and on social media, for example: wellness programmes (low introductory club memberships), cosmetics and healthcare (free samples and low-cost trials), dating services (open-end subscriptions), and digital services (cloud-based and streaming subscriptions).

For online subscriptions you are required to provide your card details. In providing those details you are agreeing to your card being automatically charged at regular intervals. Cancelling these types of charges are difficult as your bank or financial institution cannot stop them unless you freeze or cancel your card. This means if you only intend in using a subscription for a certain time frame make sure to set a reminder to go in and cancel it before this time is up. If you need help cancelling a subscription visit our Subscription Cancellation help page.

Finally, be mindful when shopping on social media, particularly when live shopping. Online shopping is becoming a generic term nowadays. From websites to platforms, and then mobile apps and social media, what started as “e-commerce” evolved into “mobile commerce”, then “social commerce” and now “live shopping” (buying directly from and during a live stream on various channels). Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp or TikTok, in-app and live shopping is how younger consumers, in particular, like to shop these days. Remember, you only have consumer rights if you buy from a registered business and those rights are strongest if you buy within the EU.

Booking a foreign holiday in 2024: Dos and Don’ts

Whatever your travel plans are for 2024, make them in confidence knowing that you have the right information to make the best choice for you. From choosing the type of holiday, to car hire and what to do if something goes wrong, our top tips will make sure that you are ready for takeoff.

Package holiday or DIY: Which is best?

There is no right or wrong answer to this one; the key is knowing the difference and making an informed decision. Booking your own holiday can often be cheaper and allow more flexibility, as the world really is your oyster. However, the important thing to know is that you don’t have the same level of protection as you do if you book a package holiday. Where this is important is, for example, if something happens at the destination you are flying to or if the accommodation you booked isn’t what you expected. If you book a package holiday, the provider is responsible for either addressing the problem or organising a different arrangement. If you book your holiday yourself, make sure to spend time reading the terms and conditions of each part of your holiday, particularly around cancellations.

Expired passports and the 10-year rule

EU rules state that passports are valid for a maximum of 10 years. That means if you’re visiting another EU country, Iceland or Norway and your passport is valid for more than 10 years, you could be denied entry. It’s up to you to check this, not the airline.

If you are travelling within the EU your passport will also need to be valid for three months after your return date. Many countries including Egypt, Thailand and Turkey require up to six months. Save yourself a stressful sprint to the passport office by checking what the requirements are for your destination before you make the booking.

The cheapest time to book online

Travel businesses were among the first to embrace algorithms – the computer technology that predicts everything from demand to pricing. “Dynamic pricing” is the way in which some businesses describe algorithms that raise prices at high demand times. Often flight or hotel costs can change significantly even in the space of an hour. As a general rule, look online during quieter spells – for example, mid-afternoon or late in the evening – for the best deals. The more people are online and searching, the pricier the flight or hotel might get.

Whether you are booking in person or online, shop around and be wary of “pressure selling” – those warnings on websites that claim there is “one room left at this price” or that “42 people have looked at this deal in the last hour”.

Navigate car hire like a boss

Car hire can be a tricky business. From the cost to deposits and rules around use, you need to go into car hire with your eyes open. Before you leave, compare the rates of different car rental firms; remember, too, that it can make a big difference to book a car online. Before booking a rental car, research the company and always read the policy and rental conditions to ensure you select the best choice for you.

In the EU, there are rules that protect you when you rent a car in one of the member states, including Norway and Iceland. You are entitled to clear information and a fair contract. You can also involve a dispute committee if you have a dispute with the car rental company.

To find out more about what you should watch for when you hire a car abroad see our Car Rental advice page.

Be on your guard for scams

Accommodation scams are unfortunately a reality that we all need to be aware of. If you are booking your accommodation yourself, make sure to do your research. There are lots of review websites that you can check. Whilst a five star-rated hotel might seem like a brilliant find, it is more important to check the number of reviews, the details in those reviews (are they specific?) and be realistic there is always going to be the odd negative review.  If you can, try to use booking websites and pay through those sites as you will have a better level of security. Email the owner too, before you commit, to confirm the accommodation is genuinely available and what will happen if there is a cancellation – either you or them.

What happens if things go wrong?

This depends on what type of holiday you have booked. If you have booked the individual elements yourself, then depending on the nature of the problem you will need to look at the terms and conditions of each contract. If your issue is in connection to travel, we have advice in our Travelling in the EU section.

If you booked a package holiday, the business that booked your holiday is responsible for addressing the problem. Read about your rights on our Package Travel consumer advice page and get in contact with the business as quickly as possible.

Finally, don’t forget to pack your travel insurance. For most people, travel insurance is a must, as it will cover you for many situations such as if you fall ill before you fly, or if you have valuables stolen when you are away. Remember don’t leave it to the last minute to buy your insurance, put it in place as soon as you book or consider taking out an annual policy.

All you need to know to “Roam Like At Home”

When you travel outside your home country to another EU country, you don’t have to pay any additional charges to use your mobile phone. This is known as ‘roaming’ or ‘roam like at home’. Your calls (to mobile and fixed phones), text messages (SMS) and data use (web browsing, music and video streaming etc.) are charged at the same price as calls, texts and data within your home country.

The same rule also applies to any calls or text messages you receive while you’re abroad – you are not charged extra to receive calls or texts while roaming, even if the person calling you is using a different service provider.

What is roaming?

Roaming is when you use your mobile phone while occasionally travelling outside the country where you live or have stable links, i.e. you work or study there. So, as long as you spend more time at home than abroad, or you use your mobile phone more at home than abroad, you are considered to be roaming. You will therefore be charged domestic prices for your calls, text and data use in the EU. This is considered a “fair use of roaming services”.

Whenever you cross a border within the EU, you should get a text message from your mobile operator informing you that you are roaming, and reminding you of its fair use policy.

In which countries can I ‘roam like at home’?

In all 27 countries of the EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and in the countries of the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.

What does a fair use policy mean?

In order for roaming customers to have access to the “roam like at home” rules Mobile operators can apply a “fair use policy”. This means that your mobile operator may apply fair and proportionate limits to avoid customers abusing the rules.

When you’re roaming, there are no volume restrictions on your voice calls and text messages (SMS). However, there are rules and limits on how much data you can have charged at your domestic price. These limits depend on the type of contract you have.

In some cases you may have to pay a data roaming surcharge, which will be equal to the EU-wide wholesale data cap. This maximum amount is €2 per GB of data in 2022 plus VAT and it will decrease over time. From 2027 onwards it will be capped at €1 per GB plus VAT.

What if I have a pre-paid service?

If you pay in advance for using your mobile phone, you can use your phone in other EU countries without paying extra. However, if you pay per unit and your domestic unit price for data is less than €2 per GB your mobile operator may apply a data limit while you’re roaming.

If your mobile operator applies a data volume limit, it should be at least the volume obtained by dividing the remaining credit (as soon you start using data roaming services) by €2. You will get the same volume of roaming data that you’ve paid for in advance. You can of course top up your credit while you’re travelling.

Example: If you have €12 (excluding VAT) credit when you start roaming then you can will get at least 6 GB of roaming data (€12 divided by €2 = 6).

If things go wrong

If you think your service provider has not respected your rights, you should contact your operator and use their complaint procedure.

If you are not satisfied with their response you can contact the relevant national regulatory authorities in your country, usually your national telecoms regulator, who will handle your case. In Ireland, this is the Commission for Communications Regulation.

Get the most out of unwanted Christmas presents

As consumers, each year we lose millions of euros on unwanted Christmas presents and unused gift vouchers. Rather than leaving them to collect dust in the corner or adding to landfill by dumping them, you could put them to good use. You may even get a gift you love in the process!

Can you return an unused gift?

Hopefully, you were given a gift receipt that will explain your options. If you don’t have a receipt, then try to find out where the gift was bought and when. If the gift was bought online, the business is required to provide one. If the gift was bought in a store, whether you can return it and get a refund or exchange will be based on the shop’s policy. In good news, many businesses allow returns and have extended return periods into January, so the first step is to make contact to find out what the business will do. If you know that the gift was bought online, the person who gave it to you may be able to return it if it’s been 14 days or less since the gift was delivered to them. You can find out more about these rights in our Right to Cancel section. However, it might be an awkward conversation to find out!

Spend vouchers straightaway

Gift vouchers can be a good way to give a personal gift that still allows an element of choice, but they can also be easily lost or forgotten about. Your consumer rights mean that gift vouchers must be valid for at least five years, but it’s a good idea to use them as soon as possible.  If the business from which the voucher was bought closes down, it will be difficult or impossible to get a refund. Remember also, that some in some cases, maintenance fees can run down the amount you have to spend so get spending.

If it’s faulty, bring it back

Did you know that you have consumer rights for up to six years after you buy something? Under consumer law you are entitled to:

  • The right to a refund within the first 30 days if a product is faulty.
  • Decide if you want a repair or replacement. It should be provided by the business within a reasonable time, without significant inconvenience to you and free of charge.
  • Ask for a refund or price reduction if the fault is major. You can also do this if you have difficulty getting a repair or replacement.
  • Depending on how long the product should reasonably last, the business can also be responsible for resolving issues for faulty products for up to six years. 

Sell or donate it

If none of the options above suit, you could give the present to someone you think will appreciate it. Alternatively, you could sell it on an online platform, donate it to a local charity or give it to someone for free by listing it on freecycle websites.

Planning a holiday in 2024: Your guide to third-party booking sites

At the beginning of each year, many people start to plan their holidays for the year ahead. Online (third-party) booking sites or intermediaries are proving an increasingly popular option, particularly for bargain hunters on the lookout for the best deal.

Read our article to learn more about what you need to know if you are booking a holiday using a third-party booking site, along with some of our top tips!

What are third-party booking sites?

Third-party booking sites are known by lots of different names. Here are some of the main types and the services that they provide.

  • Online travel agents (OTAs) have their own supply of travel products and services, which they sell on behalf of suppliers/providers. Some of the best-known global OTAs are, Expedia, Travelocity,, Hostelworld,, Airbnb,, LateRooms and
  • Comparison websites collect data from the online travel agents above, as well as other third-party search engines and hotel websites, and combine them together so you can compare different offers. Examples of these types of sites include Google Flights, Skyscanner, HotelsCombined, It is important to know that some of these comparison sites are owned by online travel agents and are therefore not entirely independent.

Why use a third-party booking site?

  • Price: The main benefit is that consumers can easily compare what is on offer. They can also benefit from special offers as the OTAs can pass on savings due to their scale.
  • Choice: Through third-party sites you may have access to options that you wouldn’t have found simply by searching online.
  • Convenience: They provide a fast way to find information, check reviews, and place bookings for multiple travel services in one go. You can also deal with one point of contact, which is easier.
  • Security:They offer sophisticated online facilities that ensure the safety of users’ data, as well as secure payments and transactions between consumers and suppliers.

What you need to be aware of

  • Headline offers: Attractive low-price offers may have additional charges that become apparent as you go through the booking system. The end result is that the final price at the end may be more than other offers or if you booked the services individually.
  • If something goes wrong: As you have booked with an intermediary, it may be challenging if there is a disruption or cancelation in travel services. If this happens, it is best to contact the travel supplier directly.
  • Contract confusion: When you make a booking, your contract will usually be directly with the service provider and not with the booking website, so you will be bound by the terms and conditions of the travel provider. The third party may also have terms and conditions attached to their service, which you will also be bound by.
  • Terms and conditions: It is essential that you read the terms and conditions of both the third-party booking site and the travel provider’s contracts as you will be bound by both. Look particularly at what they say about amending or cancelling bookings, payment details and requirements around travel.

Our top tips

  • No matter where you are booking, always check that the website provides complete contact details, including a geographical address, and confirm them with additional internet searches.
  • Check the name and URL of the website in the browser address bar before you book so you know if you are booking directly or through a search engine.
  • It is always a good idea to check for negative feedback and/or reviews left by other consumers. If an online travel agent has a record of poor communications or consistently refuses refunds, perhaps you should look elsewhere.
  • Read the terms and conditions on the websites of both the third-party booking site and the travel providers site before you book.
  • Be wary of any requests by a provider / actual supplier of the service to complete a reservation outside the booking platform of the third-party website. This is sometimes a sign of a potential scam and may leave you unprotected if something goes wrong.

How to claim your air passenger rights

Regulation (EC) 261/2004 sets out the important rights and entitlements you have under EU law if your flight is delayed or cancelled, or you are denied boarding.

When do these rights apply?

EU air passenger rights apply when:

  • Your flight is within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline.
  • Your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline.
  • Your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country and is operated by an EU or a non-EU airline.
  • You have not already received benefits (compensation, re-routing, assistance from the airline) for flight-related problems for this journey under the local laws of a non-EU country.

What are my rights?

You can find out more about your specific air travel rights by clicking on the following links:

Flight Cancellation

Flight Delay


Lost Luggage

Where can I complain?

If you are having difficulty in getting what you are entitled to under these rights, then there are several steps you can take.

The airline

You should always send your complaint to the airline first using either the complaint form provided by the airline or by using our letter templates.

National authorities

If you don’t receive a reply from the airline within 6-8 weeks or if you are not satisfied with the reply, you can lodge a complaint with the relevant national authority in the country where the incident took place. The national authority can provide you with information on how to progress your complaint. If the airline is an Irish-registered airline, you can contact the Irish Aviation Authority.

Alternative or Online Dispute Resolution entities

You can also try to resolve your dispute using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).This means you can ask a neutral third party to act as an intermediary between you and the trader. If you bought your ticket online, you can use Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform. Read more about both of these channels in our dedicated section on Alternative Dispute Resolutions.

The national courts

You may wish to resort to formal legal action and present a claim for compensation under EU rules using the European Small Claims procedure. For flights between EU countries (operated by one airline), you can submit your claim either at the place of arrival or departure. If your consumer complaint was not resolved and your claim does not exceed €2,000, you can avail of the Small Claims Procedure in Ireland.

What is chargeback? How to get your money back for a disputed credit or debit card transaction

A chargeback is the process in which you can ask your card provider to reverse a transaction on your credit or debit card. It enables you to dispute a card transaction and request your money back for something you’ve paid for.

When can chargeback be used?

Chargeback can be requested if:

  • you buy something and it does not arrive;
  • something you bought is damaged or different from its description;
  • subscriptions that you cancelled were still charged;
  • you were due a refund which hasn’t happened;
  • you don’t recognise the transaction;
  • you paid an incorrect amount or you were charged twice;
  • where the business has ceased trading.

If you’ve made a complaint to the business and have either not received a response or unhappy with the outcome, or they’ve stopped trading, you can contact your bank to make a chargeback claim. It is important to be aware that there are no guarantees that your bank will be able to recover the money through chargeback, or that the retailer will accept that you were justified in taking the money back.

How do I request a chargeback?

  1. Make sure you have made a complaint: put it in writing, setting out what has happened, include copies of any paperwork and clearly stating how you want the issue to be resolved. You cannot start a chargeback without doing this. Set a deadline in which you expect a response. Keep a copy.
  2. Contact your bank quickly: there will be a time limit in which you can do a charge back so if you have tried to resolve the issue yourself and it isn’t getting sorted contact your bank. Most card providers have limits such as 120 or 180 days after the transaction takes place or the agreed date of delivery in which you must dispute a transaction.
  3. Include all documents: you will need to provide documents to support your request, these will depend on the reason why you are requesting the reversal but you will need to show that you tried to resolve the problem with the business.

What happens next?

The card provider will refer the query to the card-processing company who will then contact the business advising them of the queried transaction and requesting any required documents. At this point, the business’s bank account is debited. The business has 14 days to respond to the chargeback request, otherwise, the consumer is refunded and the case is closed. If the business supplies documentation for example proof of delivery etc), the card processing company will assess whether it is sufficient defence according to the rules and regulations of the chargeback scheme. When the assessment has been made you will be informed of the outcome of your request by your financial institution.

PayPal and chargeback

If you add money to an account with an online payment provider such as PayPal, the loading of the money is considered to be the card transaction.

So if the money that you’ve loaded into your account is then used to buy goods and services, that transaction won’t be classed as a card transaction and is unlikely to be covered by chargeback.

If you’re making a card purchase through PayPal, it’s best to empty your PayPal account regularly so there is no credit balance. That way, when you make a card purchase through PayPal, the same amount will be debited from your bank account or credit card and immediately to the seller. This will make it easier for your bank or credit card provider to match your purchase with the debit.

New Year New You… but check your gym membership T&Cs

Is it time for a new you in 2024? As we enter into a new year, many of us are joining the gym, starting driving lessons, taking dance classes or booking the kids into music and drama courses. Whatever you are signing up for, it’s important to remember that you are entering a contract and reading the terms and conditions is a must.

So before you commit to that gym membership, find out what you should be looking for and what you need to know if those get fit intentions fizzle away.

Get the facts

You have strong consumer rights when it comes to service contracts. Before you agree  to a contract, the business must give you certain information, including:

  • A full description of the service provided
  • The total cost, including VAT
  • Details of any extra charges
  • Information on your right to cancel.

You should read through all this information and make sure you are happy with the service before you pay and sign up.

Read the terms and conditions

Yes they are often long and boring to read but you really do need to read them, as once you sign up you are bound by them. This means that if you wish to cancel, for example, the conditions under which you can cancel will be based on what was in the contract. The terms and conditions should also tell you if there could be changes to the price that you are paying, or what would happen should for example the gym close for a time.

If a service falls short of what’s agreed, you have rights under consumer law to help you fix the problem.

Annual memberships

Many services such as gyms offer an annual membership. This may mean paying for the entire year upfront or agreeing to pay monthly for at least 12 months. You should read your contract carefully to make sure you aren’t committing to a service for longer than you’re comfortable with.

If you sign up online, a 14 day ‘cooling-off’ period applies, during which time you can cancel your membership. You will receive a full refund if you have not used the service during the first two weeks and you may receive a partial refund if you have used the service.

What if I want to cancel?

Sometimes your circumstances change. Many gyms, for example, allow you to pause or cancel your membership under certain circumstances such as illness, injury, losing your job or having to move home.

Your provider is legally obliged to provide you with information about their cancellation policy and the process you need to follow. Read through your contract carefully before you sign up and ask them if you are not sure about anything.