UK INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER CENTRE THROUGH THE YEARS

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2012

Cases continue to rise

In 2012 the UK ECC got a new director. Andy Allen joined the service from Consumer Direct South West where he had been operational manager since 2004. With a background in trading standards (since 1998 at Cornwall County Council), a law degree and a CTSI diploma in consumer affairs, Andy took on the task of leading the UKICC. The following year saw a 10% increase in consumer complaints over the previous year.

For the first half of 2012, UK ECC’s advisors also stepped into ECC Spain’s shoes, handling complaints from UK consumers about Spanish traders due to the lengthy temporary closure of ECC Spain early in 2012, adding significantly to our workload.

One such case was that of two UK consumers – Mrs W and Mrs K – who, whilst on holiday in Spain, signed up to buy 250 million entertainment and leisure credits with a company in Spain. They parted with a £1,710 deposit via a debit card. Upon return to the UK, the friends wrote to the company they’d signed up with in Spain, saying that they wished to withdraw from the contract.

Mrs W and Mrs K said that they had signed the contract under duress following hours of hard sell and that they should have been given a ‘withdrawal period’, during which no money should have been taken. They said that they would not pay the outstanding balance of £19,300.

When the company threatened legal action, the friends contacted the UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC). Our advisors took up the case and liaised direct with the company in Spain as at the time there was no ECC Spain. After two months of regular liaison between the UK ECC and the trader, the trader agreed to the consumers’ suggestion to keep the deposit. The two consumers were granted some benefits for the deposit, but neither consumer expected to take up these points. The trader stopped pursuing the £19,300 balance.

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