Since March 2020, consumers have even more than before turned to the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) for help with cross-border problems. The network has recovered a total of over 4 million euros since the beginning of the pandemic for consumers whose flights were cancelled, whose hotels were closed or who suffered another COVID-19 related breach of their rights, for example, an online purchase that went wrong due to the pandemic.
The ECC-Net helps to get a refund
Not being able to travel is one thing. Losing money is another. The European network helps consumers who cannot find an agreement with the tour operator or any other company based in another EU country, Iceland or Norway.
Especially since the pandemic, it repeatedly happens that travellers have the lawful right to get a refund, but only receive a partial amount or nothing at all. Or they are offered a voucher when in fact they are entitled to an immediate refund. This is exactly where the network comes in. In almost 70 % of the disputes it received, it has been able to achieve a positive and out-of-court solution for the consumer.
ECC-Net COVID-19 year in figures
Between March 2020 and March 2021, the network received 170,000 enquiries from consumers across Europe whose consumer rights had been infringed or who had a question about European consumer law.
This is 44 % more than in the same period the year before. The vast majority of enquiries related to the tourism sector: cancelled flights, consumers who did not want to or could not travel due to the pandemic, closed accommodation or cancelled package holidays.
Not merely individual consumers' plans are sometimes concerned in some of the cases, but those of one's immediate circle too. Bulgarian consumer booked two-way tickets for herself and four more people to New York with a German air carrier for a flight in mid-2020. Flights have been cancelled with the consumer insisting on receiving a refund to the amount of around BGN 12 K. The consumer wrote to the airline which promised to process the refund which has however not taken place in the indicated deadline and a next email from the consumer. She submitted a complaint to the Commission for Consumer Protection in Bulgaria. As it was about a complaint against a trader in another EU country, it was forwarded to ECC Bulgaria. Following our cooperation with ECC Germany, the outcome is favourable to the consumer who managed to get the five tickets refunded.
Each EU country as well as Iceland and Norway have a European Consumer Centre. Together they form the ECC-Net. The ECC-Net informs consumers in Europe about their rights and provides free help with cross-border problems. It is co-financed by the European Commission. The network cooperates with the UK International Consumer Centre.