Parents’ thoughts may be completely dominated during the autumn half-term holidays with how to keep their children occupied; some may already have decided to whisk their family off on a short break to Europe.
But how many mums and dads will have realised that the Government’s planned exit day from the EU is in the middle of some schools’ autumn break?
Andy Allen, Service Director at the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC), which provides advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK, said: “We have started to notice a trickle of questions every day from concerned consumers asking if we will still be working on their cases after Brexit and querying whether their consumer rights will still be the same.
“Parents would be forgiven for taking their eye off the Brexit ball during the autumn half-term holidays and concentrating on something that’s real for them at the moment. We want to remind them that in the event of Brexit, there will be an even greater need for a service like us. They may even need us to help in a dispute with an EU trader following their autumn half-term breaks.
“Currently we are co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the European Commission, but we have been given a commitment from the Government that the UK ECC will continue to operate at least until the end of 2020. The service has an uncertain future after that, given Brexit ambiguity. But for now, we’re still here and we’re still helping.
“Parents may not have realised that, in the event of a no-deal, their package travel rights will change, that the timeshare protection they currently have will cease and that the European Small Claims Procedure will no longer be available to them.”
Most schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have finished their half-term holidays by Monday November 4. By then the UK could have left the EU.
Allen added: “Whilst politicians argue amongst themselves and much of the country is unclear of the direction the UK is taking, it’s good for parents and others to know that the UK ECC can still be relied upon.”
UK consumers have continued to use the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) in their thousands against a backdrop of continued uncertainty created by Brexit. Earlier this year, the UK ECC’s annual report showed that more than 15,000 UK consumers turned to the service for help in 2018.
Allen observed: “That’s significant, in view of the uncertainty faced by the UK as it faces life outside the EU. As the UK heads towards Brexit, it’s clear that UK consumers are still in need of the help and advice of the UK ECC. Our team handled an impressive 9,473 phone calls from concerned consumers in 2018 and we are recognised as one of the most prolific centres on the European Consumer Centre Network.”
Every year UK consumers find themselves in dispute with EU companies over problems with purchases such as timeshares and discount holiday clubs (and the resale of both), transport (including air travel and car rental) and recreation and culture (including ‘sold-out ticket’ events).
For more details, check out the UK European Consumer Centre’s website or contact the UK ECC for free advice on your individual circumstances on 01268 886690 Monday-Thursday between 10 am and 4 pm (or email ECCNET-UK@ec.europa.eu)