The annual report for the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) was made available earlier this month, revealing that the network handled over 80,000 consumer contacts in 2013.

This represents an increase of 11% on figures for 2012. Of the contacts received by the network, 32,500 were complaints, a 9% increase on figures for the previous year.

As highlighted in ECC Ireland’s own annual report, online shopping and travel (particularly air travel) were the primary areas of complaint for most consumers. 66% of consumers contacted ECC-Net with a query or complaint in relation to online shopping, while 18.3% of contacts related to an issue with air travel. A further 4.5% of consumers sought advice and assistance in relation to a car rental problem.

The most common issue complained about was non-delivery of items. 15.4% of complaints stemmed from this issue, although consumers also frequently raised concerns about defective products and the cancellation of services.

In his foreword to the report, EU Commission for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica described ECC-Net’s role in providing information and assistance to consumers as “vital”. He noted that the services provided by the network allow consumers greater confidence when shopping across Europe as they are aware that “professional, independent advice and support [is] just a mouse click away.”

The report also makes reference to the various projects carried out by the network throughout 2013. ECC-Net frequently collaborates on cross-border research projects on consumer issues and in 2013 published reports on fraud in cross-border e-commerce, the EU services directive, and on chargeback in the EU and EEA.

The release comes at a key time of year as many shoppers begin to look ahead to the busy winter shopping period. Some consumers may be planning mid-term or winter breaks, while others may be looking to make a headstart on seasonal shopping. For more information on your rights when shopping online, please find our guide here. If you have a concern about your rights when travelling by air, you can consult this page.

Consumers are welcome to contact our office for further advice and assistance, either by phone on (01) 8797 620 or by using our contact form.

The full ECC-Net annual report can be accessed here.