ECC Ireland Vs CCPC – What’s the difference?
European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland
If you have a consumer dispute with a trader based in another EU country, or Norway and Iceland, then ECC Ireland is who you should be talking to for free information about your consumer rights and, in some cases, further assistance.
By further assistance we mean if you’ve already lodged an official complaint with the trader but there’s been radio silence then you can come back to ECC to assess your case in more detail and, if the case has merit, pass it on to our colleagues in another ECC centre based in the country of the trader. For example, if you’re resident in Ireland and you’ve bought a product that is now faulty from a trader based in France then our colleagues in ECC France will try to make contact with the trader, avoiding the pesky language barrier problem, and hopefully facilitating a satisfactory resolution.
The main consumer issues that fall under ECC Ireland’s remit are air passenger rights (e.g. flight cancellation or delay or lost baggage), car rental (e.g. alleged damage to the vehicle and problems with insurance cover or fuel policy), online shopping (e.g. failure to deliver, payment problems, faulty goods, or the wrong altogether) or holiday accommodation (e.g. problems with online booking, payment, or standard of the accommodation). The list goes on and on but there are certain situations that do not fall under ECC Ireland’s remit and you will have to be referred elsewhere. This includes when the consumer and the trader are both based in Ireland, if it’s a financial service, or a business-to-business contract.
It’s important to note that ECC Ireland does not have enforcement powers and therefore it liaises on behalf of the consumer by firstly reestablishing contact (sometimes it is a simple case of breakdown in communication), outlining the problem, reminding the trader of its obligations under EU legislation, and urging them to resolve the issue amicably.
The main difference between ECC Ireland and CCPC is that the latter is the port of call if you’re resident in Ireland and you have a complaint against a trader that is also based in Ireland. Contacting their help centre is a good place to start to get information and advice on what to do next.
The CCPC is an independent statutory body with a dual mandate to enforce competiton and consumer protection law in Ireland. In terms of consumer rights, it works to empower and equip consumers to make informed choices and assert their rights. It also uses its enforcement and regulatory powers to make markets work better and get best results for consumers, and promotes the benefits of competition and consumer protection through advocacy and public awareness activities.
There is a wealth of information available on the CCPC website. As well as information about your rights when you’re shopping, travelling, or buying a car, it also covers queries in relation to banking, housing, and contracts and services. You’ll find handy financial comparison information, tools and calculators, and tips on how to complain on the website too.
When should you contact the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR)?
The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) monitors and regulates the laws covering air passengers’ rights. CAR’s website and its flightrights.ie website also has information in relation to air passenger rights. CAR would also be the national enforcement body (NEB) in certain circumstances.
First of all, if you’ve a travel related complaint you should first submit a complaint under Regulation 261/2004 to the air carrier. If the air carrier fails to conclude the matter in accordance with the Regulation or to the satisfaction of the passenger, the complaint should be forwarded to the appropriate NEB.
The NEB of each EU Member State, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland, is responsible for departures from airports within its territory and arrivals into such airports from third countries on Community-licensed carriers.
For example, CAR would be the appropriate NEB if the affected flight departed from Ireland or arrived in Ireland from outside the EU, Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland on a community-licenced air carrier.
Assistance before contacting the NEB:
If you’re resident in Ireland and the airline you flew with is based in another EU country, Iceland and Norway, then you can of course seek information and further assistance from ECC Ireland as you will need to show that you have first attempted to resolve the issue with the trader, but to no avail.
Learn about how to make an effective consumer complaint here.
Other consumer information resources
- Consumer Association of Ireland (CAI) – The CAI is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, registered with charitable status and working on behalf of Irish consumers. Its aims are to protect, promote, and represent the interests of consumers. The CAI website is a good information resource. There is a Your Rights section with information in relation to online shopping, shopping in the sales, second-hand goods, air travel, package holidays, and lots of other topics. Check it out to find out more.
- Citizens Information – the Citizens Information website has a great section on consumer protection which gives good overview of consumer rights, consumer complaints, pricing, and product safety and labelling. It also has a pretty comprehensive section on travel and your consumer rights in relation to package holidays, air passenger rights, and airline liability among other things. There are many centres dotted around the country where Citizens Information Officers can help advise and refer you if needed. Alternatively you can contact the Citizens Information phone service on 0761 074000 (Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm).
Don’t give up the fight – other redress options are available
So you’ve scoured the internet for information, phoned and emailed everyone imagineable to find out about your rights. You may not have got the response from the trader you wanted, or maybe no response at all, or you want to handle the complaint yourself but need a simple procedure to do this. If you feel you have a legitimate complaint under EU and national consumer legislation then there are other options available that will help you keep on fighting the good fight.
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)
The Online Dispute Resolution platform, developed by the European Commission, offers a single point of entry that allows EU consumers and traders to settle their disputes for both domestic and cross-border online purchases. Essentially you can handle the complaint yourself by going on the platform and lodging the complaint. The trader would then be notified. You are both then given 30 days to agree on a third party independent dispute resolution body. Once agreement on this has been reached the complaint is then sent to the dispute resolution body who has 90 days to find a solution. If a solution is found then you and the trader are informed. You will find more information about ODR here.
European Small Claims Procedure
If you’ve tried everything, including putting a complaint in writing to the trader and seeking the assistance of ECC Ireland, but the trader still hasn’t replied or the response has not been to your satisfaction then there is the European Small Claims Procedure.
This procedure is available to both consumers and traders allowing them to pursue cross-border claims within the national market (except Denmark). The procedure is quite simple and requires a consumer to fill out the ESCP form, pay a small fee of €25, and lodge it with the Registrar in your local district court office. As of July 14, 2017, the limit for claims increased from €2,000 to €5,000. The ECC Ireland press release explains more.
Help available for other complaints
- Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg): ComReg is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of the electronic communications sector (telecommunications, radio communications, and broadcasting transmission) and the postal sector. So, for example, if you’ve a complaint in relation to internet or mobile phone services (the actual network service), premium rate services, or postal problems then you can ask a question or lodge a complaint to ComReg here.
- Financial Services Ombudsman: The ombudsman is a statutory officer who deals independently with unresolved complaints from consumers about individual dealings with all financial service providers. More information on who may or may not submit a complaint to the ombudsman and how to do it is available here.
- European Car Rental Conciliation Service (ECRCS): The ECRCS helps customers with unresolved complaints concerning cross-border vehicle rentals that are based within Europe and that have subscribed to the scheme. The rental companies that do participate are bound by the decision reached by the conciliation service. Please note that to use this service you must first show that you’ve made attempts to resolve the issue with the trader. You can find information about contacting ECRCS here.
- Garda National Economic Crime Bureau: While ECC Ireland does carry out regular public awarness campaigns about scams and other types of fraud affecting consumers we can only provide information. As fraud is a criminal matter you would have to contact the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau to report it and seek further assistance. The Bureau’s phone number is 01 6663776.