Guides & Checklists

Problems With Goods/Services Outside The UK

As people travel further and the internet increasingly turns the world into a global market for everybody, consumers are facing more issues with products bought in or ordered from abroad. However if you do have an issue with something you purchased from overseas, what can you do? Check out our handy tips and advice below.

Within The EU

Are you worried about being scammed on holiday? Want to know your rights as an air travel passenger? What should you do when you’re importing a car from Europe to the UK? While the European Union is one big market, as there are 29 different countries – all with slightly different regulations – it can often be difficult to work out your rights as a consumer while you’re on holiday or if you’re buying from another EU country via the internet. The European Consumer Centre for Services (ECCS) provides information on consumer law and your rights when buying goods and services across the European Union, as well as contact details for organisations that could provide practical assistance in the event of a dispute. They offer advice on a range of overseas contracts from travel and tourism to banking and cars. To find out more and visit the website, click here. The ECCS is a new service that has been set up in line with Article 21 of the EU Services Directive. This came in to force at the end of December 2009 and requires that all member states offer information on cross EU trading to consumers when it is requested. Within the UK this information is delivered by the Trading Standards Institute and is funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Outside The EU

Different countries can have vastly different rules when it comes to consumer protection, so it’s always best to do your research before you go on holiday or make a major purchase from outside the EU. In some countries you may be almost as well protected as you are in the UK, while in others every transaction you make will essentially be ‘buyer beware’. Using online research and reputable holiday guides, as well as Foreign Office advice, you should be able to build up a picture of your consumer rights wherever you want to visit or buy from. If you are buying things online from outside the EU, you should also be aware that dealing with a problem with a trader thousands of miles away is likely to be more difficult than in the UK, not least because of the language barriers. Most foreign companies are legitimate and happy to help, but make sure you have confidence in them before you part with your money as it may be difficult or impossible to get them to refund you if there is a problem and they don’t want to sort it out. Also remember that if you use your credit card, you may be able to get your money back from your credit card company if there’s a problem and you’ve paid over £100. If you have a serious issue while you are on holiday, you can always contact the nearest UK embassy or consulate for advice and assistance.

Wherever You Go On Holiday

It’s a sad fact that in many parts of the world, tourists are seen as ‘easy pickings’ by scammers and con artists. As a result, a little extra vigilance is always a good idea, especially when in particularly ‘touristy’ areas. It may also be wise to do some research to find out if there are any particularly well-known cons to avoid in the part of the world you’re visiting. The Foreign Office provides up-to-date advice on pretty much every country in the world. While this don’t usually cover particular scams, it can give you an idea about things to watch out for such as the level of crime, local laws you may need to be aware of and particular issues tourists have faced there. It’s also worth knowing your rights in regards to different forms of cash while abroad, as credit cards, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency all hold different levels of risk if you get robbed, have a dispute with a trader or are looking for the cheapest deal. The Money Advice Service can give you more information about this. For more info on your holiday rights, go to the Citizens Advice Guide, which includes information about what to do if you have a dispute with your tour operator (or if they go bust before you travel), as well as other typical travel issues. You can also check out a few leaflets below, which detail some more of your rights when you book travel in the UK.