Consumers should contact us via email as Government advises home-working amid Coronavirus
Consumer advice service UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) is committing to keeping its service open to UK consumers - who are in dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK - as the Government instructs people to work from home as much as possible.
From Monday 23 March the UK ECC has temporarily shifted (while the Coronavirus home-working advice remains in place) to a mainly online service and is advising all UK consumers to use email – firstname.lastname@example.org - for free advice and support.
Legal executive at the UK ECC (which provides advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK), Sonia Payne, said: “The Coronavirus outbreak has the potential to generate scams – which we are already seeing coming through - and it is important that we are still here for consumers to help them out wherever we can. We are receiving an increasing number of questions from UK consumers who are worried about changes to their travel plans, mainly flights and holidays – we have received almost 100 in the past week.
“The European Consumer Centre network – UK ECC is one of 30 such centres – has handled more than 4,200 consumer queries on this issue. As the situation worsens, we anticipate that we will get more and more UK consumers who are concerned and have questions – we want to be here for them.
“We have bought laptops for all of our consumer advisors to ensure that we can provide the best-possible service to UK consumers who need our help. Our consumer advisors will be working at home in order to keep our consumer advice service running. Our IT team has been working flat-out to ensure that we have access to our systems - including the relevant databases – remotely.
“Consumers’ first port of call should be to check our website for their consumers rights in connection with the disease. The situation is fast-moving, so we are updating our Coronavirus advice page - (https://www.ukecc.net/consumer-topics/Coronavirus.cfm) – regularly, usually every day. “
Sonia said that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is the Government department responsible for issuing travel advice and that airlines, holiday companies, and insurers based in the UK will be reliant on the information provided by the FCO. She advised that cancellations are usually made in line with the FCO (or overseas equivalent) advice.
Although increasing numbers of questions are from UK consumers worried about changes to their travel plans, mainly flights and holidays, Sonia said: “It’s important to remember that the UK ECC can provide advice and support in many areas. These include buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs and air travel.
“These are unprecedented times and European Consumer Centre offices throughout the EU, plus Iceland, Norway and the UK are taking whatever steps they can to keep their services running.”
UK consumers should contact the UK ECC for free advice and support on their individual circumstances by emailing ECCNET-UK@ec.europa.eu).
The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 30 centres in the EU, plus Iceland, Norway and the UK. Currently the UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the European Commission, but has been given a commitment from the Government that the UK European Consumer Centre will continue to operate at least until the end of 2020. The service has an uncertain future after that, given Brexit.
Sonia said: “But for now, we’re still here and we’re still helping. We are recognised as one of the most prolific centres in the network.”
- Check out our UK ECC website for more information about your Coronavirus-related rights when travelling and for a summary of the stringent measures announced by the Government about the few, very limited circumstances under which all UK people can leave their homes.