OF IRISH INDUSTRIES that are operating across Europe, air travel is what’s resulting in the most complaints to a body that represents European consumers.
While car rental and electronic products remain common issues, air passenger rights is the area that’s behind most of the complaints made by European consumers using Irish airlines, as well as Irish consumers using other airlines across Europe.
Last year, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) dealt with 338 cases about air passenger rights – 47% of all complaints the advice service received over the year.
Flight cancellations and delays were the main cause of these complaints, with the majority made by consumers in other EU countries against Irish airlines.
Dented luggage, a lack of information presented in other languages and a failure to inform a passenger that a cancelled flight had been reinstated were situations where customers across Europe were given financial compensation after complaining.
One woman who found her suitcase was dented was, after providing receipts that proved her suitcase was worth €120, awarded €90 in compensation from the airline.
These findings were compiled by ECC Ireland, part of the ECC Network, which covers 30 countries in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA), giving free information and advice to customers on their rights and assisting with disputes from consumers in different countries than the company they wish to complain about.
Of the 719 complaints that resulted in direct intervention from ECC Ireland, 552 were by consumers from other European countries against traders based in Ireland. The remaining 167 involved Irish consumers against traders based in other European countries.
The next most complained about area was car rental, with electronic products, furniture and hotels and accommodation also getting a place in the top five.
ECC Ireland dealt with 78 complaints about car rental last year, most related to supplementary charges imposed when the vehicle was returned. The majority of these cases, 59, were from consumers based in other EU/EEA countries complaining about car rental traders in Ireland.
One complaint outlined how an Irish woman hired a car in Spain, receiving a €230 charge when returning the car. After the company could not produce repair paperwork despite claiming the car had been damaged, the woman was awarded a refund of €180.
A man who rented a car in Ireland was charged after being accused of not filling the tank up with petrol before returning the vehicle. With his receipt from the petrol station and working with ECC Ireland, he was refunded the requested amount of €85.90.
With electronic products, faulty or defective goods – including smartphones and laptops – were the most common cause for complaint.
When it comes to furniture, most consumers raised issues with unfair terms in consumer contracts and unfair commercial practices.
Problems with online bookings and the overall quality of what’s provided resulted in the most complaints about hotels and accommodation.