Consumers: European Consumer Centres´Air Passenger Rights Day 2011
Brussels, 7July 2011 - Holiday didn't go as planned? Flight cancelled? Lost luggage? Help is at hand. The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) offer citizens free advice about their rights when travelling and shopping across borders. They can also help them solve problems with traders in another EU country (plus Iceland and Norway) when things go wrong. In 2010, the Centres provided free help and advice in over 71,000 consumer cases, and helped consumers with complaints worth 14 million euros. Since many of the complaints they receive concern transport, in particular air travel, the Network has organised a special 'Air Passenger Rights Day' at 27 airports (23 countries 1) across the EU. Under the motto ' Pack a little consumer know-how, Europe offers you free help and advice', they will provide advice and help on air passenger rights, for example in cases of cancellations, delays or baggage loss.
How did European Consumer Centres help in 2010?
This case study illustrates:
In the context of the volcano eruption in May 2010, some Finnish passengers were stranded in Spain when their flight was cancelled due to airspace closure. They chose re-routing and had to stay 7 extra days in Barcelona. The airline did not offer any assistance. Safely back home they contacted the airline and requested a refund of their expenses (€1,167). The airline only refunded €250. With Centres' help, the consumers were refunded the remaining €917. More ECC consumer stories at http://ec.europa.eu/ecc-net.
How do European Consumer Centres help?
The Centres operate in 29 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland 2).
They offer online as well as direct advice for consumers to help them avoid problems when buying goods and services from a trader based in another EU country (as well as in Norway and Iceland).
When consumers do run into problems (e.g. with a refund, repair or replacement to which they are entitled to under EU rules) and for whatever reason have not been able reach an understanding with the trader, the Centres can intervene on the consumers' behalf. This often involves contacting the corresponding Centre in the country of the trader.
For cases concerning air passenger rights (such as problems obtaining assistance when stranded at an airport), the Centres work closely with 'national enforcement bodies' (NEBs) which make sure that air passenger rights are complied with and which have the exclusive power to investigate and enforce EU rules. The Centres can help consumers obtain refunds and compensation. For example, the Centres can contact the airline on behalf of the consumer, or, if necessary, file a complaint with the relevant NEB. The Centres can also advise consumers on taking their case to an out-of-court dispute resolution scheme.
They are co-financed by the European Commission and national authorities.
Frédéric Vincent [ +32 229 87166 ]
Aikaterini Apostola [ +32 229 87624 ]