10th Consumer Scoreboard - June 2014
Making markets work for consumers
The 10th Consumer Markets Scoreboard tracks consumer conditions in 52 markets, accounting for around 60% of the household expenditure.
- Market performance is improving: The overall assessment of market performance, across all markets and all countries, has improved slightly between 2012 and 2013, continuing the positive trend observed since 2010. The situation still differs considerably from market to market and from country to country.
- Goods markets appear to be working considerably better than services markets, although the gap between them has been narrowing. The gap between the two market groups is most pronounced with regard to comparability of offers.
- Some key services sectors – such as banking, telecoms and energy – continue to fail consumers. Despite improvements since 2012, utilities markets, in particular electricity and gas, continue to score poorly on comparability of offers, choice of providers, ease of switching and actual switching. This suggests that consumers are not yet able to actively participate in the market and benefit from market liberalisation.
- Compared with 2012, some of the worst performing markets, such as vehicle fuels and train services, have improved the most. The largest drop in performance has been noted in the meat market, which is likely linked to the horsemeat scandal.
- Complaints data gathered according to the harmonised methodology set out in the 2010 Commission Recommendation, show considerable differences in the number of reported problems and related complaints in different markets, with the worst situation in the telecom sector.
- As a follow-up, the European Commission will launch two in-depth studies:
- A market study on retail electricity which will draw comparisons with the findings of an earlier (2010) study into the market and assess if/how things have improved since then. It will also examine the impact of the implementation of the Third Energy Package legislation as well as of novel collaborative initiatives by consumers and/or consumer associations, and will assess the need for possible future initiatives.
- A behavioural study to enhance the reading and understanding, by consumers, of terms and conditions. The study will investigate (through behavioural testing) various conditions that could increase consumers' willingness to read and their capacity to understand contracts terms and conditions.