Cyprus Mail

Most consumer complaints in 2015 concerned air travel and car rentals

The European Consumer Centre (ECC) Cyprus last year received almost 200 complaints from Cypriots and other EU nationals, most of which concerned air travel and car rentals.
The centre helps resolve cross-border complaints within the bloc by acting as an intermediary with airlines for instance.
According to the head of ECC Cyprus Elena Papachristoforou, this was the main issue for 58 per cent of Cypriot complainants.
Papachristoforou said that from their data the vast majority of the complaints were found to be justified, mainly because of gaps in existing European legislation that allows airlines to often invoke “extraordinary circumstances” to justify delays or luggage refusals.
“When there are so many complaints, it means that there are some deficiencies and some gaps,” said Papachristoforou.
Under the ECC process the consumer has to submit the complaint first to the airline and then refer to the ECC for mediation if they are not satisfied by the airline’s response.
Last year, ECC Cyprus investigated 193 complaints, of which 116 were from consumers residing in Cyprus and 77 from consumers living in other EU countries with complaints regarding Cypriot products or services. In 2014 there were 181 complaints, and in 2013 a total of 154 complaints.
ECC Cyprus also handled 487 requests for information in 2015.
The second area for consumer complaints from Cyprus in 2015 related to restaurants, hotels and accommodation services, accounting for 16 per cent of the total and in third place at 12 per cent were miscellaneous complaints such as dating sites.
Regarding complaints from consumers residing in other EU member states, submitted to the ECC Cyprus, the main gripes concerned goods and services at 40 per cent, communications – complaints about mobile phone companies – 23 per cent and leisure industry complaints 10 per cent.
Almost 40 per cent of all complaints last year concerned products or services, 19 per cent unfair trade practices and 18 per cent delivery problems. Sixty per cent of the total transactions involved were done online and 11 per cent in shops.
Papachristoforou said the ECC had also set up platform for online dispute resolution, which has been operation since last February. It allows consumers and businesses to settle their differences concerning internet orders online. European regulations provide for the establishment and operation of a single platform across the bloc.
Deputy director of the consumers and competition department of the commerce ministry, Charalambos Roussos said it was an innovative tool “that saves time and money”.
“The benefits of using the platform are multiple, as the process is not as expensive and time consuming to court,” he said.
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