News item

New booklet to help consumers shopping across the EU

Consumer group UK European Consumer Centre has launched a new booklet called ‘Buying something in the EU? – What you should know’, to arm UK consumers shopping in the European Union in the 2012 with their consumer rights.

The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) has produced the booklet to encourage UK consumers to check out their basic consumer rights so that they are safe when making cross-border purchases.

Jed Mayatt, UK European Consumer Centre Manager, said: “Every year we help an increasingly large number of UK consumers in dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK and we also help to help other ECCs who share cases with us about UK traders, which of course could ultimately benefit UK consumers too.

“The UK ECC is now firmly established both as the busiest centre within the entire network of 29 ECCs (the ECC-Network) and a significant European consumer protection advice and information service. Part of our role is to publish information to help UK consumers, so this booklet is designed to give people valuable knowledge of their consumer rights across a whole raft of subjects such as ‘shopping online’, ‘buying goods’, ‘timeshares and holiday clubs’, ‘air travel’, ‘car hire’, ‘package travel’ and ‘other travel’.

“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 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 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. 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 the initial six month period, 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).
• The Distance Selling Directive 97/7/EC means that consumers have a seven day working day cooling-off period, beginning the day after delivery of goods – during which a contract can be cancelled for any reason, including a change of mind.
• 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.
The booklet ‘Buying something in the EU? – What you should know’ is downloadable from the publications section of the UK ECC website: Alternatively, consumers can request a copy by emailing your details to
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: