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UK ECC adds an 11th Key to Happier Living

Visiting Europe this summer? It’s time to know your rights

The UK European Consumer Centre is urging UK visitors to Europe to add an 11th key of ‘doing your homework’ to the ’10 Keys to Happier Living’ launched last month by the movement Action for Happiness.

The UK ECC is telling UK consumers who plan to visit Europe this summer: “it’s time to know your rights.” It is urging them to take steps to make their trip as smooth as possible by understanding their rights before they go.

Visits by UK residents to Europe fell by six per cent from 45.5 million to 42.7 million in the 12 months to January 2011, compared to the year before.

Jed Mayatt, UK ECC Director, said: “We’ve already had the first taste of summer with the wonderful weather this April and many people’s thoughts have started turning in earnest to their summer holidays. If you’re planning to visit Europe this summer, now really is the time to get to know your consumer rights, before it’s too late. We know that UK visitor numbers to Europe are down and we want to ensure that UK consumers are well-prepared for their trips.

“As a spokesman for Action for Happiness said on its launch day, everyone’s path to happiness is different, and their research suggests that 10 things consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s overall happiness and well-being. The UK ECC believes that UK consumers need to add an 11th key to that list: ‘do your homework’.

“The UK ECC experiences a surge of complaints and enquiries in the last quarter of a year and the first quarter of the next year – basically UK consumers try to sort out the dispute themselves first once they return from their holidays and then turn to us for advice and support to see if we can help. We want to help people to ‘do their homework’ before they go – then they will be better prepared.

“Our ultimate aim is to help as many UK consumers as possible who encounter problems with a trader based in Europe, to achieve a resolution: a refund, replacement, repair or cancellation of their contract.”

The UK ECC is continuing its theme of advising UK consumers to make 2011 the year they ‘do their homework’ on their consumer rights when buying goods from the EU, by issuing a set of ‘revision notes’. These are some of the safeguards in place to protect you whilst buying goods in the EU:
– If a flight is delayed by more than two hours, under Regulation EC 261/2004, consumers should be entitled to claim for meals and refreshments or overnight accommodation, depending on the amount of time they are delayed to their destination. To check the exact entitlement, consumers can view our website at If the delay is for five hours or longer, then consumers are entitled to claim a refund for the unused part of the ticket if they decide not to travel, or can choose to be re-routed at a later time.
– It is common practice for airlines to ‘over-sell’ the number of seats available on a flight and this may lead to ‘over-booking’. When this occurs, the airline must invite passengers to volunteer their seats to other passengers. Volunteers should be offered financial compensation, which is agreed between themselves and the airline. This is in addition to being given the choice of an alternative flight or his/her ticket refund. If volunteers are not forthcoming, the airline can deny boarding but should offer set amounts of compensation.
– The Montreal Convention states that consumers should be able to claim up to a certain amount for checked-in luggage if it is lost, delayed or damaged by the airline.
– A new Timeshare Directive (2008/122/EC) has already been implemented into national law in some countries across the EU and is expected to come into force in many others shortly. The directive enhances consumer protection surrounding timeshares and timeshare-like holidays on cruise boards, canal boats, caravans and ‘discount holiday clubs’.
– Breach of contract is the failure of either party – consumer or trader – to perform any term of a contract, written or oral without a legitimate legal excuse. This may include not paying in full or on time, failure to deliver all of the goods or substituting inferior or significant different goods. When consumers buy goods, a contract is formed between the consumer and the seller. This contract is legally binding and is covered by the EU Consumer Sales Directive 99/44/EC. If a consumer purchases goods, from a trader, that have become faulty or were not as described when bought, then this is a breach of contract under the EU Consumer Sales Directive 99/44/EC. Consumers have a right to expect those goods to be: as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality.
– When consumers purchase goods they enter into a contract with the seller. The EU Consumer Sales Directive 99/44/EC protects consumers when buying goods. The goods must conform to the contract i.e. ‘be of a satisfactory quality and fit for purpose for two years’. If the goods do not conform to contract, consumers may be entitled to a repair or replacement. For the first six months after purchase, it will be for the retailer to prove the goods did conform to contract (eg. were not faulty). After six months up to the two years, the consumer must prove the goods were faulty.
– Consumers are advised when buying goods costing more than £100 to use a credit card, as section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 may place equal liability with the seller on the credit card company. The act states that consumers can hold the credit card company equally liable for any breach of contract (eg. faulty goods, non-delivery of items, poor services) or misrepresentation).

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