The European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net) of which Cyprus is a member said on Monday it was marking the years since its establishment during which 300,000 complaints had been handled across the bloc.
There are now an ECC in all 28 member states plus Norway and Iceland.
ECC-Net promotes the understanding of EU consumers’ rights and assists in resolving complaints about purchases made in another country of the network, when travelling or shopping online.
Over the last 10 years, the ECCs received more than 650,000 requests for information about EU consumer rights and assisted about 300,000 consumers with issues relating to online shopping, air passenger rights, car rental problems, most frequent internet frauds and timeshares or holiday clubs among others, an announcement said.
ECC’s are co-financed by the European Commission and national governments, as part of the European policy to assist every citizen in Europe to take advantage of the single market.
In Cyprus, during its last report for 2013, some 49 per cent of complaints related to air travel and 10 per cent involved complaints about restaurants while most of the remainder concerned online purchases.
Almost one third of the complaints made by people in Cyprus concerned dealings with UK companies with 19 per cent involving companies in Greece, 7 per cent in Germany, 7 per cent in Italy and 6 per cent in Ireland.
The centre handled in total 152 complaints of which 97 were lodged by Cypriots against foreign companies and the remainder – 55- were complaints by other EU nationals against businesses in Cyprus.
“I am especially pleased with the work we have done on enhancing consumers’ trust in the Single Market of the European Union and in assisting consumers to reap the full economic and other benefits offered by the Single Market over the last 10 years.” ECC-Net Cyprus – Director Elena Papachristoforou in a statement to mark the anniversary.
The statement gave as an example a Cypriot man who had gone on holidays with his family to Bulgaria only to find it was a building site.
“Konstantinos and his family from Nicosia learned the hard way that what you see or read on a hotel’s website is not always what you get, ECC-NET Cyprus said. “We toughed it out for two nights only because we couldn’t find a room at another hotel – everything was booked.”
“It was not just the hotel’s misleading pictures online that spoilt this family’s holiday, but they had literally walked into a building site. The rooms reeked of fresh paint. The whole place was covered in construction dust. The management was unresponsive,” the ECC statement said
“The information we had was that the hotel’s renovation had been completed in July,” said Konstantinos. “When we arrived in August, the work was nowhere near completion. When we complained, the management simply tried to find excuses.” After the ECC intervened, the hotel agreed to a full refund.
In a second case, after years of buying his car tyres through local dealers, Alexis, a computer engineer in Nicosia, decided to look for a better deal online. Alexis purchased four all-season tyres from an online retailer based in the United Kingdom. When he tracked the status of the order, he realised the tyres were not heading for Cyprus, but to an address in Germany.
“I tried to find out what was happening, but communicating with the dealer was not easy”, says Alexis. “E-mails went unanswered.” Alexis eventually learned the tyres were being dispatched from a German port via sea freight. “I was very stressed by this”, says Alexis. “I had been expecting the tyres to be delivered in a couple of days. I worried about losing my money.” Less than a month after he filed a complaint with ECC Cyprus, he was getting his new wheels balanced, the ECC said.