Air travel remains the most-complained-about issue for Irish consumers, with car rentals, electronic products, hotels and accommodation, and furniture also sources of much frustration.

The European Consumer Centre (ECC) has published its Annual Report for 2018, detailing the most common cross-border complaints dealt with last year.

It shows that ECC Ireland handled more than 4,000 contacts from consumers last year. Complaints have doubled since 2015, according to ECC, which said that 2018 was a record year.

Of the 4,000 contacts from consumers, 1,300 were requests for information.

The remainder were cross-border complaints, with almost 60% of these comprising of complaints from Irish consumers about traders in other European countries.

The most common subject of a complaint was in relation to air passenger rights.

There were 886 cases dealt with by ECC Ireland, representing a 130% increase from 2017.

The majority of these were made by consumers based in other European countries relating to Irish airlines.

Flight cancellations and delays were the number one cause of air passenger-related complaints, with a surge in complaints due to disruption caused by strikes in 2018.

Lost or damaged baggage, problems with baggage policies and issues with bookings due to third-party websites also prompted a large number of complaints.

There were 105 complaints relating to car rentals, with customers expressing frustrations about additional charges for alleged damage, delays in refunding deposits and mis-sold insurance products.

Faulty and defective electronics also prompted a large number of complaints, while customers were also critical of delivery delays for products bought online. ECC Ireland also noted an emerging issue in relation to the sale of hoverboards and balance scooters online.

The majority of complaints relating to hotels and accommodation were due to bookings made through booking agents and third party websites, while there was also a number of complaints about the quality of furniture and other goods bought online.

ECC Ireland spokeswoman, Martina Nee, said they try to give consumers the information required to resolve disputes directly with traders. However, there are often cases where direct intervention is required:

“Last year, there were 266 cases actively pursued by ECC Ireland on behalf of Irish consumers who had disputes with traders based elsewhere in Europe. We also assisted consumers based in other EU/EEA countries by liaising on their behalf with Irish-based traders to resolve 1,131 complaints reported to our ECC-Net colleagues.”

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