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Transport tops the list of complaints for UK consumers

Posted 08/11/18

UK consumers are turning in their droves to consumer advice organisation UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) for help in sorting out disputes with traders based in a European country outside the UK.

In what proved to be an exceptionally busy year for the UK ECC, the centre’s consumer advisors saw transport top the list of most complained about subjects in 2017. This was followed by restaurants, hotels and accommodation; and then recreation and culture.

This means that 41.2% of UK consumers’ assistance cases (which needed further help from the European Consumer Centres Network) were transport-related, 16.4% were connected to restaurants, hotels and accommodation and 13.7% were about 13.7%.

Andy Allen, UK ECC service director, said: "There’s no doubt that transport difficulties cause UK consumers the most headaches and can cover a whole range of difficulties on all modes of transport - planes, trains, cars and boats. And if you have a transport problem at the start of your trip abroad, it means that your holiday has got off to a bad start.

“Every year it seems that more and more UK consumers are seeking our help, people who find themselves in dispute with EU companies over problems with purchases such as transport (including air travel and car rental), recreation and culture (including ‘sold-out ticket’ events) and timeshares and discount holiday clubs.”

Many of the centre’s 15,240 cases had a proven cross-border element, while the remainder were information requests – these may be advice on an aspect of consumer law or referral to another specialised organisation.

The breakdown was that in 2017 the UK ECC handled 10,005 information requests, 4,286 advice cases and 949 assistance cases (which needed further help from the European Consumer Centres Network) on behalf of UK consumers. Our advice and information in all cases is based on consumer laws which are grounded in 'basic consumer principles' to which all EU consumers are entitled.

Andy said: “The UK ECC plays a pivotal role in empowering consumers to confidently conduct business with European markets. We are a vital member of the European Consumer Centres network - or ECC-Net - a practical manifestation of the single market for consumers. Our strength is in numbers: the UK ECC is part of the ECC-Net: 30 centres covering Europe, plus Iceland and Norway.

“As the UK heads towards Brexit, it’s clear that UK consumers are still in need of the help and advice of the UK ECC. Our team handles an impressive 4,000 hours of calls yearly from concerned consumers – we are recognised as one of the most prolific centres on the Network.

“The Centre has grown year-on-year and we are now helping thousands of people who may not have known who to turn too otherwise. On a daily basis, we do our best to ensure that nobody is left in the lurch.

“We’ve had cases involving anything from fingers in dog food to under-performing sex toys. It’s a testament to the team that we can deal with anything thrown at us and still provide professional advice to consumers on the most specific of issues.”

Many of the cases the UK ECC handles result in further action such as document assistance, direct retailer communication and constant interaction with the other 29 consumer centres on the Network.

Check out the UK ECC's Annual Report 2017 at http://www.ukecc.net/  for a more in-depth look at our year’s work.

UK consumers can use the advice and support of the UK European Consumer Centre if they have a dispute with a trader based in an EU country outside the UK – 01268 886690 between 9 am and 5 pm or http://www.ukecc.net/


The UK ECC’s aim is to help as many UK consumers as possible who encounter problems with a trader based in Europe, to achieve a resolution: a replacement, repair, refund or cancellation of their contract.




Notes to Editors

  • The top three categories of complaint are transport; restaurants, hotels and accommodation; recreation and culture. These are based on 'assistance cases'; cases which required further help from our European Consumer Centre counterparts with a view to contacting the trader in the country in question on behalf of the consumer. These are cases where the consumer has tried to resolve their problems but attempts have failed.
  • The UK ECC Annual Report 2017 can be found here: http://www.ukecc.net/

The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 30 centres in the EU, 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 their 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, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the European Commission. The UK ECC service is delivered by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute https://www.tradingstandards.uk/

Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 01268 886690 weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm.

If in doubt before you buy, contact our sister organisation – the European Consumer Centre for Services – for pre-purchasing advice: www.ukecc-services.net

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