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UK-based European consumer service relaunches with international focus

Posted 11/06/21

A UK consumer service which had been facing potential closure as a result of Brexit is being relaunched with an international focus following the assurance earlier this year of its future by the UK Government for the whole of 2021.

The new UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) service delivers free support and advice for UK consumers who have made purchases from European companies outside the UK as well as an increasing number of non-European countries.

Formerly known as the UK ECC, the centre was previously part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) of similar centres throughout EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and the UK. Its future was in doubt as it was joint funded by the UK Government and the EU.

The UK Government has promised that it will fund the service – via the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) - to keep the centre open for at least the whole of 2021.

Andy Allen, Service Director at UKICC, said: “It is fantastic news for UK consumers because they can rest assured that we are still here, we’re still helping and we’re still free. We live to fight another day for UK consumers!

“We are relaunching as the UK International Consumer Centre - we’ve already got a relationship with more countries than those covered by the European Consumer Centre Network and we aim to expand the list of non-European countries we can collaborate with so that we can help more and more UK consumers.

“We are no longer part of the ECC-Net, but we are working still working closely with those European Consumer Centres in order to get the best resolution for UK consumers when they are in dispute with traders in other European countries. 

The UK International Consumer Centre is the only service of its type available to UK consumers, delivering support to help consumers resolve their complaints about traders outside the UK.

CTSI Vice-President Baroness Christine Crawley said: “The centre has grown from strength to strength in the 13 years since its inception.

“In 2020 alone, almost 25% more UK consumers asked for help than the previous year so it’s clear that the centre is needed more than ever.

“Nothing else quite like it exists - it is a hub of specialist free advice which UK consumers can use to help them deal with disputes arising from purchases of goods and services from traders in the EU, Iceland or Norway. 

“Its demise would have been a huge loss to UK consumers so it’s reassuring to know that they will still be around and still be helping.”

Early during the COVID-19 pandemic, the centre (which started in 2007) saw a record number of enquiries in a 48-hour period (in April 2020), with more than 1,000 consumers seeking its expertise and advice in relation to airline flight cancellations. This was the biggest influx of consumer enquiries since the 2010 Icelandic volcanic ash cloud chaos.

Figures show that in the whole of 2020, the centre helped 12,287 UK consumers, that’s an increase of almost 25% (24.8%) over 2019. 

Andy said: “This unprecedented COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic led to a surge in consumers coming to us for help at a time when the very existence and future of our Centre appeared to be under threat.

“So we were extremely pleased to get definite confirmation that the UK Government will fund the continuation of our centre for 2021. We didn’t want to have to let anybody down!

“Thousands of UK consumers could have been left unprotected if we’d closed. Now they know that they still have someone to turn to.

“Ours is a critical role in the UK consumer protection landscape and we are so pleased that the UK Government found a solution which retains this valuable service.”

Consumers can make contact with the UK International Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 01268 886690 Monday-Friday between 10am and 4pm.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

                                                                                                                                       

For further information, please contact UK International Consumer Centre’s press office on 01268 582206.

The UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) works with the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 29 centres in the EU, plus Iceland and Norway.

The aim of the UKICC is to provide free advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK as well as an increasing number of non-European countries. Our advisors will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.

The UKICC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel. Contact the UK ICC’s press office on 01268 582206 for media enquiries.

UKICC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the European Commission. The UKICC service is delivered by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute http://www.tradingdelstandards.uk/

Consumers can make contact with the UK International Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.netor by phone on 01268 886690 Monday-Friday between 10am and 4pm.



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