Air travel accounts for 41% of complaints to consumer body

European Consumer Centre: Flight cancellations, delays, damaged or lost luggage key issues

The European Consumer Centre  said the main problems encountered by consumers were in relation to air travel (41 per cent), followed by issues with electronic goods (8.1 per cent) and problems with online services (7.8 per cent). File photograph: Getty Images

The European Consumer Centre said the main problems encountered by consumers were in relation to air travel (41 per cent), followed by issues with electronic goods (8.1 per cent) and problems with online services (7.8 per cent). File photograph: Getty Images

 

Air travel accounted for more than four out of 10 complaints handled last year by an Irish consumer body that resolves disputes over services in other EU member states.

The European Consumer Centre said it received just over 3,500 contacts last year, of which 63.7 per cent (2,231) were complaints. The other contacts were requests for information.

The main problems encountered by consumers were in relation to air travel (41 per cent), followed by issues with electronic goods (8.1 per cent) and problems with online services (7.8 per cent).

Dispute resolution adviser Anna Heryan said 41 per cent ( 285 cases) where direct intervention by the centre was required concerned air travel.

“The majority involved complaints made by consumers in another European country against Irish airlines,” she said.

Flight cancellations and delays were the number one cause of complaint for air passengers, followed by damaged, delayed or lost luggage or problems with an airline’s baggage policy.

Technical difficulties

Ms Heryan said issues concerning technical difficulties encountered while booking flights online and policies imposed by air carriers were other major sources of complaint last year.

Twenty-seven cases related to refund requests on medical grounds.

She noted airlines were not automatically required to issue a refund in all such cases and typically required evidence, such as a medical certificate.

Car rental accounted for 7.1 per cent of complaints, while entertainment services such as the purchase of concert tickets accounted for a further 5.5 per cent.

Most of the total complaints last year (1,737) involved consumers from Ireland about traders based in other EU countries, the ECC said.

The service generally assisted consumers to resolve their complaint amicably. However, in 232 instances, further assistance was required and its counterparts in other countries were asked to contact the trader there.

Irish traders

ECC was also contacted by 31 people in other EU countries in relation to complaints against Irish traders.

Similar consumer organisations in other countries last year registered more than 1,900 complaints against traders operating from Ireland.

Intervention by the ECC in dealing with Irish traders was sought in 463 cases.

Nearly 85 per cent of the cases handled by the ECC where further assistance was required related to distance selling. E-commerce alone represented nearly three-quarters of the cases, it said.

The centre said it was committed to empowering consumers and helping them to take full advantage of the internal market by providing information, advice and assistance free of charge to help resolve cross-border consumer complaints.