The 2015 annual report of the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland, shows the office received 3,503 contacts from consumers last year. They included cross-border complaints and requests for information.
Complaints actively pursued by ECC Ireland and requiring further assistance from the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) amounted to 695.
Of the near 700 complaints actively pursued by ECC Ireland, 232 involved Irish consumers against traders based in other European countries while 463 cases related to complaints by consumers from other European countries against traders based in Ireland.
Air travel remained the most common area of cross-border consumer complaint.
Also in the top five consumer complaints in 2015 were electronic goods, online services, car rental, and entertainment.
Cases relating to airline passenger rights, which made up 285, or 41% of cases, was the most popular area of complaint. The sector consistently tops the yearly lists of complaints.
The majority were complaints made by consumers based in another EU country against Irish airlines. Flight cancellations and delays were the number one cause for air passenger-related complaints.
Damaged, delayed or lost luggage and problems with the baggage policy of the airline was the second highest category of air travel complaints.
The EEC dealt with 56 cases (8.1%) relating to complaints about electronic goods last year. The complaints related to online and offline purchases of electronic items such as digital cameras, laptops, tablets, and MP3 players.
Online services proved to be the third highest area of consumer complaints in 2015, but appeared in the top five for the first time last year.
The complaints related to services purchased online such as subscriptions, dating agency services, money transfer services, as well as antivirus computer services.
Three-in-four complaints about car rentals involved supplementary charges, price increases, and payment-related disputes.
A total of 12 cases concerned alleged damage to the vehicle.
A total of 11 cases involving car rentals were in relation to the insurance/cover provided, nine cases due to the condition of the car (breakdown/others), and three involved the car rental company’s fuel policy.
Complaints about entertainment services rounded off the top five.
The cases largely related to automatic renewal of subscription services, the purchasing of tickets for sporting or other events, memberships, expiry dates on vouchers, game consoles, and other products or services used for leisure purposes.
Press and communications officer for ECC Ireland, Martina Nee, said the figures showed the problems consumers right across Europe faced on a daily basis.
“Once again, 2015 has been a busy year for consumers and ECC Ireland has been working hard to provide free advice and further assistance, when needed, in relation to cross-border consumer issues.
“The report provides a snapshot of the valuable work carried out by ECC Ireland for consumers in 2015 and highlights some of the problems faced by Irish and European consumers, particularly in the areas of air travel, electronic goods, online services, car rental, and entertainment,” she said.