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Consumers (21-10-2011)

EU consumers poorly rate financial and property services, and fuel markets

21 October 2011 – Investments (including pensions and securities), real estate services and mortgages are the markets most likely to be failing consumers across the EU, according to the latest Consumer Markets Scoreboard. For goods, second-hand cars and fuels have the poorest consumer ratings.

The annual Consumer Markets Scoreboard ranks 51 services and goods markets, covering more than 60% of household budgets, to see which are likely to be failing consumers across the EU.

Key findings in 2011

  • Services markets continue to underperform , with financial services (e.g. consumer credit) and network services (e.g. electricity) all below average.
  • 3 lowest-performing consumer markets are investments (including pensions and securities), real estate services and mortgages (investments, real estate and internet provision in 2010).
  • Lowest scores for mortgages, investments (including pensions and securities) and electricity supply of the 14 service markets for which supplier switching was analysed considering the perceived ease of switching providers or tariff plan and actual switching by consumers.
  • Goods markets on the whole are working much better. Exceptions include second-hand cars and vehiclefuels, which have scored lowest in the goods category (second-hand cars, clothing and footwear, and meat in 2010).
  • Electricity and fuels markets have deteriorated most compared with 2010, which may reflect consumer sentiment about electricity and fuel prices.
  • 64% of consumers are satisfied with the choice of goods or providers (across all markets). This suggests that choice is less of a problem for consumersthan trust in traders and the ability to compare offers.

Full report with national results and background on how they are calculated.

Consumer Market Monitoring Dashboard - interactive web tool with breakdowns of various data aspects

Next steps

The Commission will launch 2 market studies as follow-up:

  • Consumer credit which scores poorly in the Scoreboard, particularly on trust and comparability. As the Consumer Credit Directive comes up for review in 2013, findings will help assess the impact of current EU rules. The study will not cover the mortgage sector as it is subject of a recent Commission proposal.
  • Fuels. The fuel market ranks second-lowest among goods markets and sees the greatest deterioration since 2010. It is the 4th largest market as a share in household budgets. The numerous fuel designations can be confusing for consumers, which may have an impact on the single market.
  • In-depth studies are already complete for other problem markets (e.g. electricity, retail financial services) or are in progress (Internet provision).