The number of people who used the services of the European Consumer Centre Czech Republic increased almost three times within the past three years. ECC Lawyers provided free-of-charge help to resolve disputes against traders from other EU member states and advised how consumers shall enforce their rights in the European market where lower prices and higher quality of both goods and services can be found. The increase of the number of contacts was mainly caused by information requests from consumers who became victims of the so called web traps.
„Every year, some serious problem appears which makes people contact us. In the past, it was for example the bankruptcy of the Slovakian airline SkyEurope; last year there were many information requests concerning the practices of the company Online Investment Group seated in the Seychelles who send invoices for 60 and more EUR for alleged registration on any of its websites,” explains Tomáš Večl, the Director of the European Consumer Centre Czech Republic (ECC). “In these concrete cases of the so called web traps we advised consumers not to pay because the company used unfair commercial practices. By doing so, we helped to safe totally tens of thousands of euros.”
Last year, the total number of consumer contacts was 1088 including 685 information requests and 403 concrete complaints in which the ECC lawyers assisted. The total number of contacts was about 400 in 2008 and almost 800 in 2010.
Most often, the centre deals with problems concerning air transport, i.e. problems related to delays or damages of luggage and delays of flights and so forth, and also problems concerning online shopping. ECC provides information on its new website www.evropskyspotrebitel.cz and communicates with consumers on facebook a twitter. Car rental, accommodation services and generally claiming goods purchased in another EU country also belong among the most frequented fields in which the ECC provides advice or direct assistance. The Czech centre’s lawyers always resolve concrete cases in cooperation with their colleagues from the country where the vendor is seated.
ECC Czech Republic in one of the 29 members of the European Consumer Centres’ Network (ECC-Net). Its activity is financed by the European Commission and the Czech Trade Inspection Authority by which it has operated since 2009. In the period from 2005 to 2008, the centre operated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The ECC 2011 Annual Report can be found here.