Airline passengers affected by flight cancellations due to weather or strikes will not be surprised to read that air travel continues to be the most complained about consumer issue.
The European Consumer Centre annual report shows that the top five consumer complaints for 2017 are air travel, furniture, electronic products, car rental and accommodation.
There were 385 cases about air travel dealt with by ECC Ireland.
In 2017, ECC Ireland dealt with 4,108 total contacts from consumers. Cross-border cases actively pursued by ECC Ireland and requiring further assistance from the European Consumer Centres Network came to 1,031, a jump of 45% on the figure for the previous year.
Martina Nee, ECC spokesperson said air passenger rights was once again the most popular area of complaint in 2017. "This category has held the top spot year-after-year," she said. "With thousands of people traveling by air sometimes difficulties can arise. Often it is resolved through the airline's own complaint procedure but sometimes consumers require further assistance in seeking redress. By liaising with airlines based in another EU/EEA country on their behalf, ECC Ireland and the wider ECC-Net has assisted many of these consumers to avail of their rights under EU legislation and to reach an amicable solution."
For the first time since 2014, furniture moved up into second place in the ECC's top five with 146 cases dealt with, mainly due to difficulties experienced with problematic replica and designer furniture companies. This was followed by electronic products with 106 cases, an increase of 85 per cent between 2016 and 2017, which could be attributed to the increased popularity of cross-border online shopping for such items.
Car rental, which came in fourth place with 99 cases, has always been problematic for consumers as there is no sector-specific legislation that can curtail the ability of some car rental traders to treat consumers unfairly. ECC Ireland said it would certainly welcome a change in this area.
Accommodation experienced an increase in complaints. This may be explained by the popularity of consumers booking their own holidays online, which did not benefit from the protections of package travel legislation, and the rise of accommodation sharing platforms.
Of the 1,031 cross-border cases that required direct intervention on behalf of consumers, 327 involved Irish consumers against traders based in other European countries while 704 cases related to complaints by consumers from other European countries against traders based in Ireland.