The European Consumer Centres Network
The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) was established in January 2005, and is co-funded by the European Commission and Member States to form a one-stop help service for consumers experiencing problems with cross-border purchases. There is a European Consumer Centre in all current EU countries, as well as Norway and Iceland.
The ECCs act as a network, the ECC-Net, to ensure accessibility from consumers who may run into difficulty before, during or after a transaction, and also to facilitate cooperation between the relevant stakeholders. ECC-Net services range from support to consumers who have been overcharged or discriminated against on the grounds of residence, to assistance in the resolution of complaints, from a trader’s failure to deliver the product or to comply with the 14-day cooling-off period in an online transaction, to the cancellation of a flight.
The ECCs also empower consumers by making them aware of their rights, so that they feel more comfortable when pursuing complaints by themselves. For the more difficult cases, additional assistance may be sought from the ECC where the trader is based. Where the ECCs are unsuccessful in brokering a satisfactory agreement between the consumer and the trader, they advise consumers as to what to do next (e.g. court or out-of-court dispute resolution), depending on the case.
For more information on the work of European Consumer Centre Network across Europe, please watch this video:
The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) has centres across all EU Member States, Norway and Iceland, working together to resolve the consumer disputes of their residents in an amicable manner. Each centre is co-funded by the European Commission and the Member States.
The primary role of ECC-Net is to enhance consumer confidence when engaging in cross-border transactions by providing free and confidential information and advice to the public on their rights as consumers, as well as assistance in the resolution of cross-border consumer complaints. By providing a full and centralised service, ECC-Net is committed to empowering consumers and enabling them to take full advantage of the opportunities the Single Market offers. This Quality Charter describes services you can expect to receive and sets out the standard of service consumers are entitled to expect when contacting the ECC-Net.
1. Your Expectations
ECC-Net is committed to offering a professional and courteous service to all consumers who contact us and we will make every effort to ensure that the services you receive reflect your needs and expectations.
We will check the merits of your query by carrying out an adequate preliminary assessment to ensure that the matter is within ECC-Net’s remit. All consumer queries will be dealt with by an ECC-Net member of staff and handled in a timely and accurate manner.
If your query relates to a matter that falls outside the remit of the ECC-Net, we will inform you accordingly and provide the contact details of any relevant body or organisation competent to deal with your query.
2. Our Commitment
Whether you write, telephone or e-mail, we will acknowledge receipt and make every effort to consider the information/documentation that we have been provided with promptly and, at the latest, within 14 working days. As an exception, at times of particularly heavy demand, if we cannot meet this deadline, you will be informed accordingly.
3. Our Service
Once the initial assessment process is concluded, you will be informed about your rights and entitlements under European consumer legislation as well as information on the available dispute resolution mechanisms. Whilst every effort is made to offer information and advice as clear, accurate and relevant to the case as possible, same are provided as guidance only, and not as a substitute for legal advice.
4. Practical Assistance
When you encounter problems securing redress, the ECC-Net can assist in the resolution of your cross-border consumer complaint by actively pursuing your complaint on your behalf. Upon your request, your local ECC (Consumer ECC) may seek assistance from the ECC in the country of the trader’s domicile (Trader ECC).
Before bringing the matter to the attention of the competent ECC for its consideration, the following conditions must be fulfilled: (1) the consumer has attempted to contact the trader in writing in order to resolve the matter; (2) the consumer has a well-founded claim taking into consideration applicable European consumer legislation. You may be required to provide relevant supporting documentation to enable us to progress your case.
Once the consumer’s case is accepted by the Trader ECC, the latter will endeavour to bring the matter to an amicable resolution by communicating with the trader on behalf of the consumer. The consumer will be updated on any developments by the Consumer ECC.
ECC-Net has no enforcement powers to impose any sanction, penalty or fine where consumer legislation is contravened. We will make every reasonable effort to resolve complaints amicably on your behalf; however in the event where the trader fails to cooperate or engage with us, you will be advised of alternative means of resolving your dispute, including enforcement and out-of-court mechanisms, where available.
5. Enforcement Authorities
One of the overall ECC-Net objectives is to resolve consumer disputes without the need for parties to engage with the court process. When an agreement cannot be reached directly with the trader and the matter cannot be resolved with our intervention, we may suggest engaging the services of a competent ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) entity, which offers dispute resolution procedures, without prejudice to legal action. In some instances, we may be in a position to transfer your case directly on to the competent body, monitor progress and update you accordingly whilst the case is pending with the ADR body. In instances where the relevant settlement procedure can be instigated by the consumer directly, we may provide you with the contact details of the competent ADR entity and the information in respect of the procedures applied by ADR entity.
6. Policy Development
As part of our work is assisting consumers with their cross-border complaints, ECC-Net is in a unique position to document the problems consumers face when buying goods and services within the EU, Iceland and Norway. Based on your consumer experiences, ECC-Net pools its knowledge and expertise, and works with enforcement authorities, national and European stakeholders in the collective interest of consumers; this includes providing input for new legislative proposals or sectors that, in our opinion, need further enforcement and protective measures for consumers.
7. Data Protection
ECC-Net takes the protection of consumers’ personal data very seriously. Your data will exclusively be collected, saved and used to process your complaint within the network of the European Consumer Centres and to safeguard your interests. All submitted information will be handled according to the national law governing data protection and the applicable EU rules on the processing of data by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Our privacy statement together with the information concerning the processing of data through the ECC-Net query handling system is available here. The privacy statement provided by the European Commission informs you about how we use your personal data as well as your rights regarding its use. In some countries certain information may be accessible to the public pursuant to freedom of information legislation, yet limitations to such access are prescribed by law to protect the privacy of the individual. This is the case in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. For this, we need your agreement. The privacy statement provided by the European Commission informs you about how we use your personal data as well as your rights regarding its use.
8. Your Feedback
Your suggestions or complaints allow us to improve our services and the way we communicate. We may send you a consumer satisfaction survey giving you an opportunity to tell us about your experiences and provide suggestions for improvements where needed.
Even though we are committed to providing a service to the best of our abilities, we understand that issues may occur. So we are happy to address complaints from consumers who are dissatisfied with the quality of the service provided or its delivery. A complaint should be made, in the first instance, to the person you are dealing with in the centre. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive and wish to make a formal written complaint, you may contact the Manager via email@example.com. The case will then be reviewed as regards its merits and the manner in which it has been handled.
Which office should I contact?
If you live in Ireland and you experience a problem with a trader in another EU country, you are welcome to contact our local team at ECC Ireland, via our contact page here.
If you live in another EU country, Norway or Iceland, and you experience a problem with an Irish trader you need to contact the ECC office in your country. Find your local European Consumer Centre here.