News item

How to have a protected 2011 in the EU

Picture of UKECC logoConsumer group UK European Consumer Centre is advising UK consumers to make 2011 the year they ‘do their homework’ on their consumer rights when buying goods from the EU.

The UK European Consumer Centre is encouraging UK consumers to check out their basic consumer rights so that they are safe and protected when making cross-border purchases in 2011.

Jed Mayatt, UK European Consumer Centre (UKECC) Manager, said: “The UK ECC is the busiest European Consumer Centre within the entire network of 29 ECCs - that’s the 27 EU countries, plus Iceland and Norway - with our consumer advisers handling more than 8,000 complaints and disputes and information requests in 2010.

“Consumers tend to experience the same problems every year, which is just human nature and part of life. The problems are not limited to one particular country, but are spread throughout a number of countries. The countries which UK consumers complain about most frequently include Spain, France, Germany and Ireland.

“Our aim is to help as many UK consumers as possible who encounter problems with a trader based in Europe, to achieve a resolution: a refund, replacement, repair or cancellation of their contract. We also receive cases from European consumers who are having problems with a UK trader and every effort is made to contact the trader to resolve the complaint. Every complaint is important to the consumer and we always do our best.

“But we want to do everything we can to try to ensure that UK consumers employ the same sort of checks when buying goods elsewhere in the EU as they would do at home. Consumers need to be cautious.”

Here are some of the safeguards in place to protect you whilst buying goods in the EU:

  • When you purchase goods you have entered into a contract with the seller. The EU Consumer Sales Directive 99/44/EC protects consumers when buying goods. The goods must conform to the contract ie. ‘be of a satisfactory quality and fit for purpose for two years’. If the goods do not conform to contract, you may be entitled to a repair or replacement. For the first six months after purchase, it will be for the retailer to prove the goods did conform to contract (eg. were not faulty). After six months up to the two years, the consumer must prove the goods were faulty.
  • Consumers are advised to buy goods costing more than £100 with a credit card, as section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 may place equal liability with the seller on the credit card company. The act states that you can hold the credit card company equally liable for any breach of contract (eg. faulty goods, non-delivery of items, poor services or misrepresentation).
  • Breach of contract is the failure of either party - consumer or trader - to perform any term of a contract, written or oral without a legitimate legal excuse. This may include not paying in full or on time, failure to deliver all of the goods or substituting inferior or significant different goods. When you buy goods, a contract is formed between you (the consumer) and the seller. This contract is legally binding and is covered by the EU Consumer Sales Directive 99/44/EC. If you have purchased goods, from a trader, that have become faulty or were not as described when you bought them, then this is a breach of contract under the EU Consumer Sales Directive 99/44/EC. You have a right to expect those goods to be: as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality.

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact UK European Consumer Centre’s press office on 08456 08 96 06.

  • UK European Consumer Centre – 08456 04 05 03

The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 29 centres covering Europe, plus Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to provide advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK. The Network will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.

UK ECC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel.

UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and the European Commission.

The UK ECC service is delivered by the Trading Standards Institute (

Media queries should sent to or by phone on 08456 08 96 06.

  • The UK ECC provides advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK and will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.
  • Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – – or by phone on 08456 04 05 03 weekdays between 10am and 3pm.
  • If in doubt before you buy, contact our sister organisation – the European Consumer Centre for Services – for pre-purchasing advice: