News item

Stronger rights when shopping for services

Consumers can now enjoy strengthened rights when buying services across the EU, as a result of the EU Services Directive. The Directive enables consumers to have greater access to information from traders and in the form of a consumer portal, allowing them to make more informed and confident cross-border shopping choices.

Now each country in the EEA should host a consumer portal, the UK’s being the European Consumer Centre for Services (ECCS). The ECCS is a one stop shop for advice on consumer rights, details of consumer organisations, redress across the EU and specific information on variety of services consumers often employ. This can include information on types of qualifications or licenses traders should have, codes of conducts and regulators of different types of services. The ECCS provides a free telephone and online advice service and has an in depth website where you can find information ranging from hotel ratings, solicitors and bar associations, construction, timeshare and childcare. The ECCS aims to be able to provide consumers with enough information to enable them to make safe choices and be able to use the internal market to its full potential.

Trader Obligations

When buying services consumers should now know they are entitled to detailed information from the service provider prior to entering into contract. Basic information should be provided by a trader when selling services this is both within the UK and throughout the rest of the EEA. This can include details for rapid communication, details of regulatory bodies and trade associations of who they may be a member and the price (where pre-determined or a sufficiently detailed estimate). It also states that every effort should be taken to ensure complaints are dealt with effectively and efforts should always be made to come to a satisfactory conclusion.

The Directive also states that traders are unable to discriminate against consumers by nationality or place of residence. Article 20 of the Directive rules that traders are unable to discriminate through contractual and non-contractual documentation. For example if a trader is refusing to sell to a particular country or is charging an excessive price for the same service to one nationality and not another, they must be able to justify this with a valid and provable argument.

If you are looking to buy a service across the EU and require further information or would like more detailed information on what you can now expect from traders under the Directive, or information on your consumer rights please feel free to contact us. or tel. 08456 089494

The ECCS service is delivered by the Trading Standards Institute
ECCS news 20 October 2010