European Consumer Centres 2005-2015
The European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. It was co-funded by the EU consumer Programme and is established in all 28 Member States of the EU as well as in Norway and Iceland.
Over the last 10 years, ECCs received more than 650,000 requests for information about EU consumer rights and assisted about 300,000 consumers to deal with specific complaints relating to a cross border purchase. More than two thirds of these complaints could be resolved in an amicable manner between consumers and traders.
Digital Single Market
On 2 June 2015, at the European Parliament in Brussels, launching an exhibition highlighting the ECC-Net achievements, Commissioner Jourová said:
“Consumer policy is high on the Commission’s agenda given its important contribution to the Juncker Commission’s priority projects. A strong and coherent consumer policy is crucial in reaping the full benefits of the Digital Single Market-for both consumers and businesses. With more and more consumers shopping online, the ECCs’ role in resolving cross-border disputes will become more important than ever in advising consumers, and ensuring that their rights are upheld and that they can have full trust in the digital economy.”
The ECC-Net promotes the understanding of EU consumers' rights, and assists in resolving complaints about purchases made in another country of the network, when travelling or shopping online. In the last decade, with the steady development of tourism within the EU and of e-commerce, the ECC-Net has become key to assisting consumers and traders make the most of the Single Market: in 2014, there were over 3.5 million visits to their websites.
More than two thirds of the complaints received by the ECC-Net today are about cross border e-commerce, reflecting the interest of consumers in a well-functioning Digital Single Market. Estimates suggest that consumers could save massive amounts – around 12 billion euro a year – taking advantage of the full range of goods and services available on-line in the EU. The ECC-Net is therefore an important element to promote and inform on the progress of the EU Digital Single Market Strategy just adopted by the European Commission, as it relates to online retail trade.
The European Consumer Centre Austria
ECC Austria exists since 1999, in the year of 2005 it was integrated in the newly established ECC-Net. Its affiliation in the Austrian Verein für Konsumenteninformation (VKI) ensures the cooperation of national and cross-border consumer protection. At two venues in Vienna and Innsbruck, the legal experts of ECC Austria assist and advise consumers from all over Europe. Travel rights, discrimination, subscription traps or fraud - between 2006 and 2014, a total number of 29146 cases were handled.
ECC Austria shares this rich set of experiences and the expert knowledge of its case handlers with other Consumer Centres of the ECC-Net. In the framework of a mentoring scheme, newly established centres are trained by those operating for years. Director of ECC Austria, Georg Mentschl:
"Acting as a mentor has offered ECC Austria the possibility of sharing its comprehensive knowledge with newly established ECCs, thereby supporting a higher level of consumer protection among new EU citizens.”
Furthermore, ECC Austria places great importance on informing consumers about their rights and assisting them in the best possible manner. It is therefore participating in events like the air passenger rights day at the Vienna International Airport (VIE) or fairs taking place in Vienna. Numerous interviews, brochures, flyers as well as a website completes the information offer of ECC Austria besides advise by phone or personal.
ECC Austria can be reached by phone from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. The hotline is free of charge: 01 588 77 81.
A visit of the website www.europakonsument.at can help with simple questions. It provides current articles as well as basic explanations of your consumer rights. The electronic cross-border complaint form is an easy way to send your case to ECC Austria.
The shared advisory centre of ECC Austria and VKI is situated on Mariahilfer Straße 81, 1060 Vienna. Please arrange for an appointment by phone.