The European Consumer Centre in Dublin has advised tourists travelling to Spain — especially the Canary Islands — to take extra care when spending hundreds of euro on camera equipment.
The ECC, which is co-funded by the European Commission and the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, has issued the alert following a growing number of complaints about the issue.
“Evidence shows that many people have bought cameras under the impression that they are well-known makes, only to find out that they have a similar name but are not the same brand,” said an ECC spokesperson.
The ECC has noticed a sizeable increase in complaints about digital cameras bought in Spain by both Irish and British tourists in recent years.
Although some consumers believe they have been sold counterfeit goods, the ECC has pointed out that some “look-alike” brands can be sold legitimately.
“Because of the similarity in brand name and the verbal reassurance of quality, consumers believe they are buying top quality well-known brands at a bargain price,” said the ECC spokesperson.
She claimed many tourists who had succumbed to hard-sell techniques by Spanish retailers often did not realise they had bought goods which didn’t match the description until they had returned home.
In one example, an Irish tourist believed he was buying a JVC digital camera with six megapixels.
However, he only discovered on his return home that his camera was manufactured by a company called MXJVC, and only had three megapixels.
But following the intervention of the ECC through their partner centres in other EU countries, the man was able to secure a refund of approximately €1,000.
The ECC has warned customers to seek detailed information before deciding to purchase such equipment, as it can subsequently prove quite difficult to successfully challenge contradictory evidence from sales staff.
Those buying digital cameras in Spain are advised to ensure they know what they are buying and to obtain a receipt.
They are also encouraged to know what they should expect to pay for the same product in Ireland and to be wary of bargain prices.
Consumers should ensure the warranty is stamped by the retailer and should insist cameras are packed in front of them instead of in the back room of a shop.
The ECC also advised travellers that they can face large monetary fines for buying fake goods in Italy.
Italian authorities have begun to impose fines ranging from €3,000 to €10,000 on people who buy counterfeit goods as part of a crackdown on an illegal trade that threatens the reputation of the country’s business and fashion industries.
In particular, tourists are warned about buying goods sold in open-air markets, on the beach and at public outdoor events.