News item

Guides launched to help EU cross border shoppers

So you’re a shopaholic visiting another European country away from home? You’re desperate to know about everything from shop opening hours, when banks are open so that you can get your hands on your cash, shop pricing policies and your all-important consumer rights.

But where do you look for help? Keen to soothe those shopping blues, consumer advice organisation UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) has launched a series of new European shopping guide leaflets to arm consumers shopping away from their home country with essential pieces of information to make their shopping experience go more smoothly.

The UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) has produced United Kingdom: European shopping guide, the first in the series, containing basic information about exchange rights, tax, pricing, methods of payment, shop and bank opening hours as well as links to tourist websites and tips about fundamental consumer rights. Other leaflets have been published for Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France and Germany.

Sonia Payne, UK European Consumer Centre Legal Advisor, said: “Huge numbers of overseas visitors come to the UK every year; in 2011 the 30.7 million visitors spent £17.9 billion. This is 3% more (in volume) and 6% more (in value) than in 2010. In 2011 France and Germany were the top two markets for the number of visits to the UK*, so that means large numbers of French and German people visit the UK each year as well, of course, as other Europeans.

“Every year the UK ECC helps large numbers of UK consumers in dispute with traders based in a European country outside the UK as well as European consumers in dispute with UK traders. 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 consumers, so our European shopping guide leaflets are designed to give people knowledge to help them on their shopping trips.

“Ultimately we would like to roll out European shopping guides for the 27 European countries, plus Iceland and Norway that make up the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). We felt that the UK should be one of the first; we want all visitors to the UK to have good experiences. The more information European consumers have in advance of their visit to their chosen countries, the better. There are seven leaflets in the first batch of the series; more will follow.”

The leaflet United Kingdom: European shopping guide and others already published are downloadable from the publications section of the UK ECC website:

Alternatively, consumers can request a pdf 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 consumer complaint line – 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 (

•    * These figures were taken from Visit Britain’s Visitor Economy Facts (updated April 2012)

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: