UK consumers buying from outside the EU are increasingly able to get help and advice for problems with overseas traders as consumer advice body UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) builds relationships with consumer centres across the globe
The UKICC, hosted by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), was known as the UK European Consumer Centre (UKECC) until 1 January 2021, when the Brexit transition period ended. Rather than just giving advice and help to UK consumers who have problems with EU traders – as was largely the case when the UKICC was part of the European Consumer Centre network – the centre now has a much larger portfolio of countries it has working relationships with.
Almost 10% of the UKICC’s cases are now against businesses in non-EU countries. Of these, the most common locations are China, the USA and Switzerland.
UKICC now has relationships in place to share and handle cases from 10 non-EU countries: Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Mongolia, Malaysia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.
These relationships mean that consumer protection centres in these countries will work with the UKICC to support queries from consumers in each country about businesses in the other.
Contact Centre Development Executive at the UKICC, Sonia Payne, said: “We have started to grow our partnerships with consumer organisations all over the world. We’ve got 10 now and there are even more countries in the pipeline. That’s got to be good news for UK consumers asking for help and advice with overseas trader problems.
“These relationships aim to support the resolution of disputes between UK consumers and traders based abroad, resulting in more confident and empowered consumers who are making use of global markets.
“Most of these relationships with other non-EU countries are reciprocal, meaning that the UKICC will also deal with complaints about UK traders from consumers outside of the UK. This will see further data gathered and supplied to UK enforcers and regulators.
“UK consumers can benefit from all of this extra help – the service is free and the advice they get helps them know what their rights are in other countries around the world as well as those in a European network. In total, it means we have relationships with almost 40 countries. UK residents have the reassurance that if something goes wrong, they have got backing from a consumer organisation like the UKICC.”
UKICC Service Director, Andy Allen, said: “UK consumers have been travelling a lot less since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world starts to open again to travel, we believe that the relationships we have built with non-EU countries are going to become increasingly important.”