ECC Net and COVID-19
Sharp increase in consumer queries received by the European Consumer Centres since mid February 2020 reflects COVID-19 related concerns.
European Consumer Centres (ECCs) are EU co-funded bodies providing advice and assistance to EU citizens about their consumer rights in cross-border shopping in the Single Market.
In March 2020 they answered 15,000 consumer queries, many of which related to the impact of coronavirus on a service or a good they purchased. This is around 5,000 more queries than the same month in 2019. The weekly trends recorded since the beginning of the year have increased continuously since mid February.
The major areas affected are passenger transport, accommodation services (such as hotels and B&Bs), and package holidays; but many other business sectors are also generating consumer queries related to the pandemic.
The Commission has created a dedicated multilingual webpage on the impact of COVID-19 on many of these issues.
In addition to responding to consumer queries, ECCs are warning consumers about fraudulent pharmaceutical products, fake protective masks and sanitisers and other scams related to COVID 19. They regularly inform national consumer authorities and the Commission on the scams they identify. More information about the coordinated action against rogue traders targeting consumers around the coronavirus is available here.
ECCs continue to work remotely and can be reached through their website or emails. Details are available here.
The Commission also manages an Online Dispute Resolution Platform to help consumers and traders settle their disputes out-of-court here. The Commission encourages consumers to use it if they are not able to get a satisfactory reply from the trader.
ECC-Net 8 Basic Tips for Safer Online Shopping around the Coronavirus
- Rely on official channels of information about the availability, if any, of medical products which prevent or cure the coronavirus;
- Watch out for fake domains which may look legitimate to trick you;
- Look for the seller information e.g. contact details, and for reliable consumer reviews about the seller;
- Read the information about delivery on the trader’s website and keep in mind that delivery in this period may take longer due to the various border restrictions;
- Read the terms and conditions well to avoid falling a victim to a subscription trap e.g. when subscribing to online fitness or language classes;
- Be cautious before entering your personal details for no specific reason to obtain information about a product or a service;
- Follow the instructions of how to use a product properly and make a patch test, if possible e.g. hair dye products;
- If unsatisfied with the product, remember that in principle, you have the right to withdrawal and you can return the good within 14 days