12 December 2013
A new report by the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) finds that some consumers have experienced discrimination when buying services cross-border due to nationality or place of residence. Consumers are confronted with refusals to supply or unequal conditions because they come from or live in another EU country.
The report “Enhanced Consumer Protection – the Services Directive 2006/123/EC” analyses complaints reported to ECC-Net over a three year period (2010-2012) and highlights the difficulties and disappointments faced by consumers when attempting to access cross-border services.
The Services Directive, implemented in December 2009, prohibits discriminatory conditions based on the nationality or residence of consumers. It seems however that such problems still persist.
The report shows that more than 220 complaints concerning discrimination were reported to ECC-Net between 2010 and 2012. Finnish consumers lodged 14 complaints.
Major part of the complaints reported to ECC-Net related to discrimination based on consumers’ place of residence. The report found consumers are most frequently confronted with price or service differentiation when trying to purchase goods such as electronic items, clothes, and digital downloads. Other problematic sectors for consumers were in the provision of tourism and leisure services and in car rental.
The report notes a significant problem with a lack of awareness of the protection consumers enjoy under the Services Directive, not just amongst consumers themselves but also amongst service providers and competent enforcement authorities.
More than a third of complaints received required direct intervention on the part of ECC-Net. A successful outcome was reached in nearly 50% of such cases, while 8 service providers changed their business practices following engagement with ECC-Net.
The report was produced by ECC Austria, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK on behalf of the ECC-Net.
Report: Enhanced Consumer Protection – the Services Directive 2006/123/EC. (2013)
Summary Card, Enhanced Consumer Protection – the Services Directive 2006/123/EC. (2013)