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Consumer Conditions Scoreboard: Consumer at home in the Single Market - 2015 edition

The Consumer Conditions Scoreboard tracks the situation and behaviour of consumers across Member States and over time. The 2015 edition brings together the latest consumer data based on an improved methodology with a fully revised conceptual framework for measuring consumer conditions. This edition has also a special focus on consumer conditions in the Digital Single Market.

Highlights

  • The Digital Single Market is emerging, but still faces constraints. The frequency of e-commerce transactions has been increasing. Half of Europeans bought goods or services over the internet in 2014. Yet, consumers continue to feel considerably more confident buying online from their own country (61%) than from other EU countries (38%).
  • While domestic online purchases are conducted considerably more frequently, accounting for 70% of most recent online purchases, the Scoreboard results suggests that the incidence of cross-border online purchases within the EU is considerably under-reported, since consumers are not always aware that they are buying from another EU country.
  • Cross-border purchases cause a disproportionately high amount of problems. In particular, concerns about delivery and product conformity seem to be confirmed by actual consumer experience. Moreover, consumers continue to face discrimination linked to the country of residence in cross-border transactions. These issues also account for the majority of complaints about cross-border e-commerce received by European Consumer Centres.
  • Further awareness raising on consumer rights is needed. Consumers' and retailers' awareness of some key consumer rights guaranteed by EU legislation remains limited. In the EU as a whole, only 9% of consumers were able to answer all three knowledge questions correctly, with the lowest levels of knowledge among young people.
  • Investing in enforcement does pay off. There is a high correlation between retailers' perceptions of enforcement efforts on the one hand and their assessment of compliance and of the prevalence of unfair commercial practices on the other hand, which suggests that monitoring efforts do translate into better outcomes for consumers.
  • Further development of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) promises more effective consumer redress. Still a quarter of all consumers encountering problems do not complain in case of a problem. The majority of consumers who did not take any action in case of a problem were discouraged by the perceived difficulties (e.g. low likelihood of success, lack of information, length of procedure). Satisfaction with complaint handling is highest amongst those consumers who complained to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) bodies, even though the use and knowledge of these bodies are still relatively low. 

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