• Air travel, car rental, electronic products, hotels and accommodation, and furniture are top five cross-border consumer complaints for 2018

annual report 2018


Dublin, 10th September 2019 – The European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland has today published its Annual Report for 2018, which shows that air travel continues to be the most complained about cross-border consumer issue. Other sectors to feature in the top five areas of complaint are car rental, electronic products, hotels and accommodation and furniture.

In 2018, ECC Ireland dealt with a total of 4,052 contacts from consumers, of which 1,300 (32.1 per cent) were requests for information while the remainder, 2,752 (67.9 per cent), were cross-border complaints (the highest number of such complaints lodged with ECC Ireland since the service began 20 years ago). Many of these complaints (58.9 per cent) were from Irish consumers about traders based in other EU/EEA countries. It was a record year for the overall number of cross-border complaints actively pursued by ECC Ireland on behalf of consumers; the total came to 1,397 cases representing an increase of 35.5 per cent on 2017 and having doubled in the three years since 2015.

ECC Ireland spokesperson, Martina Nee, said: ‘Having more knowledge about consumer rights and how to avail of them can go a long way in empowering consumers. And so, most consumers who contact the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) for advice are subsequently able to resolve disputes themselves directly with traders. However, there are instances where further assistance is required.

Last year, there were 266 cases actively pursued by ECC Ireland on behalf of Irish consumers who had disputes with traders based elsewhere in Europe. We also assisted consumers based in other EU/EEA countries by liaising on their behalf with Irish based traders to resolve 1,131 complaints reported to our ECC-Net colleagues.

With 886 cases, air passenger rights was once again the biggest area of complaint in 2018. This category has held the top spot year-after-year. Another area of complaint causing problems for consumers is car rental with 105 cases. This was followed by electronic products (91 cases), hotels and accommodation (63 cases), and furniture (54 cases).’



Notes to Editor

ECC Ireland’s Annual Report 2018 key findings of the top five cross-border consumer complaints/cases:

Air passenger rights

  • There were 886 cases dealt with by ECC Ireland, representing a substantial 130 per cent increase in respect of the number of complaints handled in 2017. The majority of which were complaints made by consumers based in another European country against Irish airlines.
  • Flight cancellation and delay was the number one cause for air passenger-related complaints. There was a surge in such complaints due to mass disruption caused by the cancellation of scheduled services and strikes taking place in 2018.
  • 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.
  • Other air travel complaints pertained to damaged, delayed or lost luggage; problems with the baggage policy of the airline; and difficulties with flight bookings made via online third-party websites.


Car rental

  • There were 105 complaints dealt with by ECC Ireland.
  • The main issues reported related to terms and conditions of the booking, charges imposed in the post-rental stage due to alleged damage, delays in refunding deposits, mis-selling of insurance products as well as fuel surcharges and policies.


Electronic goods

  • There were 91 cases dealt with by ECC Ireland.
  • The main areas of complaint involved faulty/defective devices, warranty issues, delayed/non-delivery, delivery of the wrong product, and misleading commercial practices.
  • An emerging problematic issue noted in 2018 was the increasing number of complaints received related to the sale of hoverboards/balance scooters.


Hotels and accommodation

  • There were 63 cases dealt with by ECC Ireland.
  • 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 payment difficulties, reimbursements of deposits or other refunds, overcharging/price increases, rooms not being available and mistakes with booking details.



  • There were 54 cases dealt with by ECC 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 provisions under Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights.


Download the full ECC Ireland Annual Report 2018 for more information including case studies for each category.


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.


Return to top