People experiencing problems with traders from other EU countries turn to the European Consumer Centre. Last year, there were 1,117 consumer contacts which represented 10% increase when compared with 2015. Most frequent areas are air passenger rights and e-commerce, followed by accommodation services and online dating sites. The centre informed about its 2016 review on the World Consumer Day.
The number of cases has grown by 10% in the recent two years. Tens of complaints relate to automatic extensions of contracts on VIP memberships in online dating sites as well as risky e-shops. „Surprisingly, many consumers still get attracted by offers of websites that don’t provide any contact details of the vendor or elementary information about consumer rights for withdrawal from the contract and guaranties as required by the European law. Other e-shops provide such information, but consumers, not having searched for other users’ reviews on the internet, are surprised when they don’t receive what they ordered or the goods is of poor quality and defective,” alerts Eva Petrážová, the Director of the European Consumer Centre Czech Republic.
Cancellation fees are – besides the quality of provided accommodation services – frequent subjects of disputes against hotels. Some Czechs think that online booking of accommodation isn’t binding and that they can cancel it within several days for free, but accommodation providers or tour operators are sometimes entitled to ask for up to 90% to 100% of the price of the service.
„We handle claims in cooperation with our partner centres in the country of the particular trader. Our colleagues contact them and make efforts to reach an amicable out-of-court solution. The benefit for the consumer is that they communicate with us in Czech and receive relevant information about their legal situation. Our service is also free of charge,” says Eva Petrážová.
Long-term success rate concerning the resolution of cross-border complaints has been 60% within the European Consumer Centre’s Network which consists of 30 centres in the 28 EU member states, Norway and Iceland. Its activities are financed by the European Commission and the participating states.
Consumers can submit a complaint against a foreign trader on www.evropskyspotrebitel.cz/stiznost. ECC is not allowed to help resolve complaints of Czech consumers against Czech traders. The ADR department of the Czech Trade Inspection Authority is competent for national cases.
On March 15, 1962, J. F. Kennedy gave a famous speech, spotlighting the role of consumers within the economy and as the first major politician speaking about the need to protect their rights.