(Prague, 11 July 2023) The European Consumer Centres Network helped consumers recover almost 250 million crowns from businesses in other EU countries last year. This was mostly in the areas of cancelled and delayed flights, online shopping, car rental and accommodation services. Lawyers settled 64% of more than 22,000 cross-border disputes out of court. Another nearly 100,000 people received advice on how to handle their dispute or avoid online fraud.
“The Prague office of the ECC network operates under the Czech Trade Inspectorate and handled over a thousand specific cases worth hundreds to hundreds of thousands of crowns last year, also with a success rate of almost two-thirds. “Cross-border dispute resolution works in such a way that a consumer contacts the centre in their home country, which processes the case, assesses it and refers it to a partner centre in the country of the entrepreneur. The latter will address the business in their mother tongue and, with knowledge of the local law, invite them to resolve the case amicably.”
This was the case for Ms Petra, who insured herself with the flight ticket broker in case she was unable to fly for health reasons. She was unable to travel to Thailand with her small son because of an injury, but despite providing all the documentation, she was not reimbursed for many months. It was only after an appeal from the European Consumer Centres Network that more than CZK 72,000 was returned to her. Only the brokerage fee of CZK 370 per passenger was deducted from the original price.
“Such cases are part of the daily work of the ECC-Net, set up 18 years ago by the European Commission and the 30 participating national states. Unfortunately, contacts with consumers still often involve subscription traps, where people do not read the financial terms of supposedly cheap or free membership of online platforms and are then charged hundreds or thousands of crowns for a service they did not want to use in the long term. High caution is needed with such offers,” warns Ondřej Tichota.
Other economic benefits of the ESC network include warnings against fraud or advice on how to get money back through the bank or online payment systems in the event of non-delivery of goods when buying with the means of distance communication, for example. Practical information on shopping in Europe can be found at www.evropskyspotrebitel.cz.
There are European Consumer Centres in every EU country, Iceland and Norway. They also cooperate with the International Consumer Centre in the UK and with the surveillance authorities of the participating countries, relevant ministries, European Commission Representations, consumer organisations and other partners.