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    Reporting period: 01/2016 - 12/2016

    European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net)

    About

    The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) comprises 30 centres covering the EU, Iceland and Norway. They are hosted by either the national consumer protection authority or a consumer association.

    The ECC-Net helps boost consumer confidence across the EU by:

    • providing consumers with information on their rights as regards buying goods and services in another EU country;
    • advising them in case of problems; and
    • assisting them through complaint handling, so they can take full advantage of the single market.

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    Achievements

    Over the last year:

    • Over 110 000 consumers have benefited from direct assistance (compared to 94 000 in 2015).
    • Consumers  and traders have received topical information on a need basis (travel app, websites, online tips).
    • The network has supported enforcement authorities by providing evidence. For example, they documented the main problems consumers had in the car rental sector. This built up evidence that fed into the dialogue between the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) and the 5 biggest car rental companies.
    • More than 20 ECCs are the contact points for the newly established online dispute resolution platform to help EU consumers to solve online shopping problems

    In 2016, the European Consumer Centres Network drew up a series of reports on issues of practical concern to consumers, such as:

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    Facts and figures

    Number of contacts

    In 2016, the network had over 110 000 contacts from consumers.

    Number of complaints

    ECCs received over 45 016 complaints:

    • 76.4% of all complaints concerned an online purchase.
    • 33% concerned transport (see chart below); 20.5% of all complaints related to air transport and 4.5% to car rental.

    Products - services concerned

    Resolution of complaints:

    In 2016, the network was able to help over half the complainants.

    • 51.3% of complex cases (where more than one centre had to be involved) were resolved amicably
    • 14.6% of the closed complex complaints were transferred to other organisations (of which 29.5% were alternative dispute resolution entities; 11% to enforcement bodies and 28.7% to courts).

    No solution was found for the rest because:

    • the trader did not agree with the proposed solution (most cases)
    • the consumer did not agree
    • the complaint was considered to be unfounded.

    Complex cases:

    The table below shows a subset of those complex cases which were created and closed in 2016.

    How were normal complaints closed? 

    Percentage 2016

    Amicable settlement with trader51.3%
    No solution found - of which:34%
    lack of agreement from trader63.8%
    lack of agreement from consumer7.2%
    complaint unfounded20.2%
    case transferred to other organisations - of which:14.6%
    alternative dispute resolution (ADR) entity29.5%
    court28.7%
    enforcement body11%

    Feedback on complaint outcomes:

    Only partial information is available:

    • In many cases, ECCs simply inform consumers about their rights, so they can contact the trader themselves. They rarely come back to the ECC with feedback, so we have to assume this is because they reached an agreement with the trader.
    • In more complicated cases, where ECCs help consumers further by contacting the traders themselves, more information on the outcome is available.

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    Priorities

    • Increase the visibility of the network and its outcomes for consumers, business and enforcement authorities.
    • Further develop the quality standards to ensure a high standard of service to consumers.