We offer you selected case of the ECC so that you can see how we can help consumers with their cross-border problems.
A Czech consumer purchased a shower bath from a Polish trader who also installed the bath. Surface of the bath crackled. The trader accepted the claim, but was willing only to send a new bath and refused to uninstall the old one and install the new one stating that he does it only in Poland (despite in time of purchase he promised to do so in case of a claim). Due to the ECC-Net assistance the trader fullfilled his promise and did all the work.
In July Mr P bought a camera via a French internet seller who had an offer in Czech on his web pages with a Czech domain. Despite the fact that in its conditions of sale the supplier promised to honour Czech consumer protection legislation, it did not send a Czech manual with the product. Mr P decided that he did not want such a product. Approximately one week after delivery, he returned the camera and demanded his money back. When the supplier did not react, at the start of December Mr P asked the European Consumer Centre for assistance. The rescinding of a contract without giving a reason (not supplying a Czech manual does not constitute a reason for rescinding a contract) is possible in the case of an internet purchase in a given period, although this differs according to French law (7 days) and Czech law (14 days). As the supplier is focussed on the Czech consumer by virtue of its offer (offer in Czech), and because in addition it voluntarily undertook to respect Czech law, the complaint was dealt with under Czech law. The supplier had to acknowledge that the consumer adhered to this period. He refunded the money to our consumer after the French ECC intervened at the instigation of the Czech ECC.
On her holiday in Italy, Ms B rented a car. The car rental company confirmed the return of the car without any comments. But after a month Ms B discovered that the car rental company had subsequently, without her knowledge, deducted an amount of € 402, allegedly for repair to damaged bodywork. Ms B turned to the ECC with a request for advice as to what she should do.Our ECC utilised the finding about the results of discussions between the representatives of the largest European car rental companies and largest credit cards companies organized by the Danish Consumer Complaint Board in cooperation with the Danish ECC. Here the credit card companies agreed with car rental companies that the car rental companies could deduct small amounts from credit cards retrospectively without the knowledge of the consumer, for example for topping up fuel, for late return of a car or for parking charges, but not for damage to a car. Our ECC recommended to Ms B that she appeal on the basis of the results of this agreement and once again asks the car rental firm to refund her money. Within 14 days Ms B got her money back.
Four Spanish consumers wanted to return from Prague to Madrid with a Czech law cost air company. Unfortunately, they discovered that the flight had been cancelled without any of them being informed of it. In view of the fact that the carrier refused to provide them with an alternative flight, the consumers were forced to buy other air tickets, and so they incurred a loss of CZK 61 060. During discussions with the carrier it was discovered that several months before the planned date of the flight, the carrier had given information about the flight cancellation to the Spanish travel agency from which the consumers had bought the air tickets and which should have informed them of the flight cancellation. Unfortunately the Spanish travel agency had not performed its duty. And the Czech carrier could not even inform the Spanish consumers, because only the Spanish travel agency knew the contact data of the consumers. Despite this, according to the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, the Czech budget carrier is obliged to pay each of the injured parties € 250 in compensation for the cancellation of the flight. At the request of the Spanish ECC and after intervention from the part of the Czech European Consumer Centre, the Czech carrier provided compensation to the consumers in compliance with the Regulation and also provided data from the electronic system which gave information on the flight cancellation so that the Spanish consumers could recover Compensation for damages from the Spanish travel agency through the courts.
A Czech consumer purchased a motorcycle in Germany, and despite the fact that he unambiguously stated that he would export the motorcycle from Germany to the Czech Republic, value added tax was incorrectly calculated for him, and this tax, to put it simply, is paid for new vehicles in the country to which the vehicle is imported and where it is registered. As a result of this error of the seller, the consumer had to pay value added tax twice: not only in Germany, but also in the Czech Republic. The consumer complained about this error with the seller and the tax office which deals with cases for Germany where the tax payer is a foreigner. He was not successful with either of them. At the instigation of the Czech ECC, the German Consumer Centre intervened with the seller, who in the end refunded the amount of the incorrectly billed tax to the consumer.
A Czech consumer purchased a used car in Germany. When he returned to the Czech Republic, he re—read the contract carefully and discovered that after his signature, the seller had subsequently written the word “firm” above the name of the consumer. The consumer was understandably distressed, because if he bought the car as a company, the provision of German law which designates that the seller is responsible for faults which the goods had at the time of receipt would not apply. And so the consumer contacted the European Consumer Centre in order that we should give him a legal standpoint on the signed contract. German colleagues arrived at the conclusion that the contract itself was very confused, and in view of the fact that the consumer had no company, it was demonstrable that from the part of the seller this involved deceptive behaviour, and the contract was thus invalid. The consumer acquainted the German seller with the conclusions of the German ECC, and the seller then prepared a new draft contract which both parties signed.
An English consumer who lives in the Czech Republic and is thus a Czech resident ordered an electronic item via the Internet from France. Unfortunately the seller got the delivery address mixed up, and the electronic item spent several months going backwards and forwards between the incorrect address and the German warehouse. In view of the fact that the consumer really needed the ordered electronic item, in the meantime he had to buy a different item, and in view of the substantial breach of contract from the part of the seller consisting of the non—delivery of the ordered goods, he rescinded the contract. Despite this, the seller did not react. Only on the basis of the intervention of the French European Consumer Centre did the seller refund the paid money to the consumer.
A married couple wanted to order underwear from the Czech—language catalogue of a Swiss company. For this reason, they called the Czech telephone number of the company which offered the underwear. During a telephone conversation in Czech, the woman asked about the price for the delivery of goods, and at that moment the company worker hung up. In view of the fact that they had not agreed on a concrete product, the married couple assumed that nothing would arrive. But to their surprise, gentlemen’s underwear of a universal size arrived, to which was appended an invoice made out for a very high amount. And so the married couple put the goods away without opening the package and waited to see what would happen next. They were then contacted in a highly inconsiderate manner by a debt recovery company. In view of the fact that a contract was not concluded, because the parties had not agreed on the subject of purchase nor on the price, this involved a so—called inertial sale, where according to the provisions of section 53, paragraph 9, “if a supplier provides performance to the consumer without an order, the consumer is not obliged to return the performance to the supplier or inform the supplier of it.” On the basis of a query asked of our ECC by a trading licence office, these consumers had their rights explained to them, and they were given assistance to write a letter to the company. After the receipt of the letter by the Swiss company, they were never again contacted by the debt recovery company.
Ms H from Austria ordered several DVDs from a Czech internet trader for CZK 3 153. But she allegedly paid the price in two parts, so the trader did not identify her payment, specified the amount as unpaid and did not send the goods. Ms H contacted the ECC directly and asked for assistance. At the request of our ECC concerning the investigation of the matter, the supplier found only a payment in the amount of CZK 2853, and it promised to send goods in that amount. We gave this good news to the consumer and asked her to inform us about the receipt of the goods. But we were very surprised when she informed us of the reaction of the Czech supplier. The supplier informed the consumer that it was rescinding the contract, and it billed the consumer the costs for searching out the payments and costs of its lawyer in a total amount of CZK 4 018. In the administration of the client centre for the customer for the on—line monitoring of the state of her order, it was possible to read that they were waiting for the payment of the unpaid balance.In such a case, the consumer may only claim her rights through the courts. The possibilities of an ECC investigation are limited.
During a flight from Sliač via Prague, Miss S from Stuttgart lost a laptop from a bag checked in for carriage. The German ECC asked our ECC to help the consumer claim compensation against the air company, which had previously refused this compensation. In their conditions of carriage, many airlines specifically designate which items can only be carried in hand luggage in the cabin and not in checked in luggage. Otherwise the company is not responsible for the damage incurred and will not pay any compensation for cases of loss, damage or delay of baggage designated by the Montreal Convention. In this case as well, in its conditions of carriage the company clearly stated that notebooks are included amongst these items, along with money, credit cards, medicines, keys, glasses, jewellery, mobile telephones delicate items and works of art. So the requirement of the consumer for compensation for damage really was unjustified.