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Consumers (21-06-2011)

Holidays in Europe? Pack a little consumer know-how

Have you ever been surprised by an excessive bill after renting a car abroad? Or booked a package holiday that did not go quite as expected? Ever wondered what you would do if the camera you bought on holidays broke down?

The consumer advice offered by the network of European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net) can help you stay out of trouble when shopping in any other EU country, as well as Norway and Iceland.

If something does go wrong and you cannot resolve the problem with the trader, the Centres offer you free help and advice.

The European Commission has launched a pilot online campaign to reach EU consumers who have so far been unaware of the ECC-Net services.

Main facts about the campaign:

A new website for ECC-Net has been created, in 10 languages so far (with more planned), as the centrepiece of the campaign. The aim has been to make the website easy to find in popular search engines, so that consumers can easily find information about ECC-Net services. This central ECC-Net website allows consumers to get advice on the most popular topics, such as air travel, car rental, package holidays or timeshare and to see in a few easy steps if ECC-Net can help them with their problem. They can also quickly find their nearest Centre and a link to its national website where they can find country specific information. In the coming weeks leading up to the holiday season, the campaign will use display advertising on major pan-European travel and tourism portals in 12 pilot countries, to reach consumers who are booking their holiday services in another EU country. The theme is "Pack a little consumer know-how: for less hassle and more peace of mind", and the aim is to help EU travellers to avoid problems and stress by following practical consumer tips offered by the Centres. The main focus of the campaign will be text advertising in popular search engines, which will last until October, to reach consumers who have experienced problems during their holidays (for example, were overcharged for holiday services and cannot get a refund) and are looking for advice online. Consumers shopping for goods from other countries (whether online or in person) will also be reached when they look for consumer support. The campaign website and advertising material have been developed with the support of the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC). The campaign concept is based on the recommendations of an earlier research study, which aimed to find which EU-level promotion activity has the most added value and is the most cost-effective as a complement to the promotional activities of the European Consumer Centres at the national level. The campaign results for consumers, including its cost-effectiveness, will be closely monitored and evaluated before the end of 2011.