Consumer agency brings airlines back down to earth

Ryanair and Aer Lingus are just two of the companies to have fallen foul of the National Consumer Agency (NCA) in the past six months.

It issued compliance notices to both Ryanair and Aer Lingus for failing to provide an email address on their websites through which consumers could contact the airlines rapidly and in a direct and effective manner.

The NCA viewed this as a contravention of e-commerce legislation which imposes a direct obligation on traders providing an e-commerce service, including airlines, to provide consumers with an email address.

Commenting on the compliance notices issued to the airlines, NCA chief executive Karen O’Leary said companies had certain obligations when doing business online.

“There are obligations which traders must adhere to when carrying out business with consumers online, including the provision of an email address to facilitate contact by consumers. These requirements are set out in law and the National Consumer Agency is ensuring that traders, including airlines, comply with their obligations,” she said

The agency also secured the conviction of a Dublin car salesman, Nigel Brophy (trading at Service Point Autos, Greenhills Rd, Tallaght), in relation to the sale of a clocked car and, in the process, secured a compensation order of €3,500 on behalf of the consumer.

A total of 58 enforcement actions were brought against traders in relation to misleading pricing and breaches of price display legislation (charging consumers more than price displayed, failing to display product prices).

Ms O’Leary said the list of actions taken by the body in the last six months should serve as a warning to companies that they need to comply with consumer protection law.

“The latest Consumer Protection List shows that traders need to comply with consumer protection law and if they do not, the agency will take enforcement action up to, and including, prosecution. We remain committed to ensuring that consumer rights are upheld to the greatest possible extent.”

She also praised consumers for raising issues for the NCA to investigate.

“The complaints we received from consumers help the agency to shine a light on areas where traders are engaging in unfair commercial practices such as car clocking. These enforcement actions were taken as a direct result of issues that were brought to our attention by consumers and proactive measures taken by the agency, including nationwide compliance blitzes to retailers.”


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