All European Consumer Centres are currently receiving more than 350 daily enquiries about coronavirus and particularly the cancellation of flights and trips due to the virus. Over the last few weeks, the European Consumer Centre offices in Italy and Austria have received a pronounced number of enquiries. In Finland, consumer questions mostly concern cancelling separately purchased flights and accommodation or cruises and various cancellations of events abroad due to the coronavirus situation. Before reaching out, customers should check authorities’ instructions and frequently asked questions as well as companies’ customer communications since companies’ customer services and Consumer Advisory Services are experiencing a high number of enquiries.
The European Consumer Centres provide advice and assistance to consumers in the EU area when a consumer has a problem with a company operating in another EU member state, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom. Most commonly, these problems concern e-commerce and travel.
In recent weeks, more than 3,500 people have contacted European Consumer Centres in 30 countries related to coronavirus. Finland's European Consumer Centre has received a few dozen direct enquiries regarding coronavirus. These enquiries have concerned cases where a Finnish consumer has purchased flights, accommodation or a travel package directly from a foreign company. At the moment, we are also receiving an unusually large amount of questions from European consumers concerning Finnish companies.
As usual, consumers should try to handle the matter directly with the company and note that, in this exceptional situation, they should wait patiently for the company's response for a little longer than usual before contacting us.
Impacts of the corona situation on the services of European Consumer Centres
The exceptional situation caused by the spread of coronavirus affects several European Consumer Centre offices and the operation of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net): some offices have received a flood of complaints, and remote work has also required extra arrangements. In many ECC offices, there is an overflow of cases or handling is slow, and in several offices on-call telephone services are not provided depending on the technical solutions of remote working, and customers are only served online (this is the case for Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the UK, for example).
In Finland, the European Consumer Centre's on-call telephone services will continue as usual even when the entire personnel is working remotely, and an effort will be made to maintain the usual level of service. We prioritise enquiries related to coronavirus, which means that processing times for other matters may be slightly longer than usual, especially if the matter is assigned to an ECC office in another country for mediation.
When you have a problem with a Finnish company
The majority of Finnish consumers' enquiries regarding coronavirus concern domestic companies, and Consumer Advisory Services are provided by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) instead of the European Consumer Centre. The comprehensive coronavirus guidelines on consumer rights and answers to frequently asked questions published by the FCCA consumer advisory services can be found at the end of this bulletin as additional information links. Check them before reaching out.
More information on coronavirus and consumer protection:
Contact information for consumers: