It is important to underline that the successful assistance of the European Consumer Centres’ Network in resolving the cross-border complaints, namely so that the demand and claim of the consumer is fulfilled, and thus avoiding long-lasting litigation depends on many factors. In order to resolve a complaint the cooperation of all four actors, such as the consumer, the ECC of the country of the consumer’s residence, the ECC of the country where the enterprise is registered and the foreign enterprise (registered in any EU Member State, Norway, or Iceland) is required.
The basic pre-condition of the successful resolution is that the consumer’s claim is reasonable, underpinned both legally and by proofs (e.g. contract, confirmation, invoice, statement of bank account on the payment, tickets etc.). In case of claims that cannot be explained or in lack of proofs the likelihood of the successful contribution is very low, thus the fulfilment of the claim is completely up to the goodwill of the enterprise. Moreover, the effectiveness of the complaint management primarily depends on the cooperation willingness of the enterprise even in case of legally justifiable claim. When the enterprise is reluctant to cooperate or performs the factum of a crime – in lack of competence – the European Consumer Centres’ Network, including the European Consumer Centre Hungary unfortunately can not achieve significant result. In addition, the difficulties of the different applicable legislation of the country of the consumer on the one hand and the country of the enterprise on the other hand may hinder to reach agreement between the parties.
If the assistance of the European Consumer Centre is unsuccessful in case of a complaint, the civil courts are authorized to make mandatory and enforceable decisions, furthermore if suspicion of crime arises (e.g. fraud,scams) the consumer can go to the police. Apart from this it shall be also emphasized that regarding the non-material damage (“dues of harm, the charges of inconveniences and annoyances”) the European Consumer Centre is not able to give assistance to consumers, such claims can be enforced at civil court.
However, when the consumer contacts European Consumer Centre Hungary concerning a claim that is legally substantiated, and the foreign enterprise is a serious economic player taking into account the consumer interests (namely, its activity does not aim exclusively at cheating consumers) the assistance of the European Consumer Centres’ Network in many cases ends up successfully. Some of the success stories of the European Consumer Centre Hungary can be read below.
Hungarian consumer/ Italian car rental company
The consumer rented a car from an Italian trader through a Dutch agency. The consumer received the car at the airport of Napoli, but the at the trader’s desk the trader’s employee provided false information regarding the “No Risk Warranty” therefore the consumer bought complementary insurance which provided higher protection in case of damage. The consumer paid 84710 HUF for this complementary insurance. When the consumer read through the conditions of the original insurance he noticed that he already paid for “No Risk Warranty”, so if he had received adequate information from the trader’s staff, he would not have paid any additional local insurance. The consumer contacted the trader and asked for refund. Since the consumer could not settle his complaint directly with the trader he turned to ECC Hungary.
ECC Hungary together with ECC Italy examined the proofs and provided substantive legal and professional help to the consumer in order to solve the complaint. As a consequence of the assistance of the ECC-NET the trader reimbursed 282 EUR (that was 81780 HUF – due to the exchange rate which was current at the time of refund).
Bulgarian consumers/ Hungarian air carrier
On 21st December 2009 the Bulgarian consumers was to fly from Milan to Sofia with flight W6 642. Due to bad weather conditions the flight was cancelled. The air carrier offered a re-routing to a flight which operated 6 days later. The consumers did not accept the offer and they purchased tickets to another airline’s flight which departed on 23rd December 2009. Due to the cancellation the consumers had to spend two nights in Milan. The Hungarian air carrier offered to refund the cost of the accommodation, but the air carrier failed to fulfil its promise. The consumers asked for the reimbursement of the amount (100 EUR) they paid for the accommodation.
As a result of the assistance of the ECC-Net the air carrier reimbursed 100 EUR for the cost of accommodation (cca. 31000 HUF). In addition the air carrier also refunded the price of the unused ticket which was 195.98 BGN (132.77 EUR, cca. 41200 HUF) in flight credit. The consumer could use the credit for buying tickets to the airline’s flights in the future.
Hungarian consumer/ Czech travel agency
The consumer booked an accommodation online and he paid the full price in advance. When the consumer arrived at the hotel the staff asked the consumer to pay 100 EUR deposit and they promised to reimburse at the check-out. Since the consumer did not get his deposit back he tried several times to ask the trader to reimburse the amount, but the consumer did not receive any relevant answer.
As a result of the intervention of ECC-NET the trader refunded the deposit (100 EUR that is cca. 29500 HUF) to the consumer.
Hungarian consumer/ Italian hotel
The consumer booked accommodation and paid the full price in advance. Upon arrival the staff deducted the full price from the consumer’s bank account in spite of the fact that the consumer had already paid everything. When the consumer noticed the deduction he guessed that it could be a technical problem but later he contacted the hotel directly and asked for refund. The hotel acknowledged the mistake and promised the reimbursement but nothing happened for a long time.
Thanks to the assistance of ECC-NET the consumer received the money (99 EUR that is cca. 29200 HUF).
Greek consumers/ Hungarian air carrier
On 8th June 2011 the consumer travelled from Athens to Kiev via Budapest without any problem. On 23rd August 2011, when the consumer wanted to travel back to Athens, the consumer’s boarding was denied by the trader’s representatives due to the consumer’s temporary residence permit. The consumer is Ukrainian citizen, but her husband is Greek so he is EU citizen. According to the passenger’s statement she has been living and working in Greece for 11 years. She has never had any problem with her temporary residence permit during her foreign trips. The passenger disapproved of the trader’s representatives’ behaviour and the fact that she would have been allowed to board the flights if she had paid 3000 EUR. The consumer had to pay extra costs (474.26 EUR) and she needed her family members’ help to get home. The consumer asked the trader to reimburse the cost of the new flight ticket (474.26 EUR).
The ECC Hungary contacted the trader several times and finally the trader offered to pay 165 EUR (cca. 49500 HUF) to the consumer. The consumer accepted the offer so ECC Hungary reached an amicable agreement between the parties.
Hungarian consumer/ electronic communication service provider in Luxembourg
The consumer used the trader's satellite TV service. In 2010 the trader informed the consumer that they would change the satellite and due to the changing some TV channels might possibly change in the program package. After the re-calibration the consumer found that some channels were gone, the number of English, German and French channels was greatly lowered. As the main cause the consumer chose that trader was that it had the channels which were replaced or gone, he informed the trader about his will to terminate the contract. The trader accepted the consumer’s decision but demanded 100391 HUF penalty due to the loyalty period of the contract. The consumer asked for the help of the ECC-Net.
The ECC-Net contacted the trader and after that the trader accepted the termination of the contract and desisted from demanding penalty.
Hungarian consumer/ German trader, internet access service provider
The consumer moved to Germany because he got a job there. The consumer wanted to use internet and phone service so he ordered it. Some days later the consumer's wife became ill and he had to come back to Hungary so he called the trader to cancel the contract and on that day he sent that message to the trader by fax too. The service was not installed because the consumer was not at home when the technician attempted to install the service. When the consumer wanted to cancel the order the trader demanded 256,7 EUR (cca. 76100 HUF) which contained the cost of the technician as it attempted to install the system, however, the appointment was not arranged. The consumer stated that he cancelled his order in due time and the trader had not suffered any damage due to the consumer's cancellation of the contract even before the date of installation of the service determined by the trader. After that the consumer asked for the help of the ECC-net.
After the intervention of the ECC-Net the trader withdrew its claim against the consumer and ceased the collection of the claim.
French consumer/ Hungarian landlord
The consumer rented a flat from the Hungarian company. The consumer paid deposit when the parties signed the lease agreement. At the end of the rental period dispute occurred between the parties concerning the overhead and the invoices. Besides the consumer bought furniture with the landlord’s consent and the landlord did not want to deduct it from the costs. The consumer demanded 390947 HUF (1450 EUR) from the landlord.
The ECC-Net was involved in the case and thanks to its extended assistance finally the parties could discuss the debts and invoices and they reached an amicable agreement. The landlord paid the agreed sum of 222094 HUF (766 EUR) to the consumer.
Hungarian consumer/enterprise in the UK
The Hungarian consumer bought a map of the US for his navigation appliance bought earlier from the same enterprise he had bought the navigation appliance and another Hungarian map from. When the consumer returned from the US he wanted to use the Hungarian map again, but he realized that the Hungarian map was deleted when he uploaded the American map. The consumer with reference to the fact that the enterprise had not informed him that the newly bought map would delete the one already operating on the appliance, he asked the enterprise to upload the Hungarian map free-of-charge to his appliance.
The enterprise fulfilled the request, and uploaded the Hungarian navigation map (the value of which amounted about 70 EUR) to the consumer’s appliance.
German consumers/Hungarian air carrier
The German consumers booked a ticket via a travel agency to the Berlin-Budapest-Odessa flight on 28 July 2010 and to the Odessa-Budapest-Berlin flight on 30 July 2010. The passengers were informed at the airport about the cancellation of the flight. The travel agency reimbursed the price of the tickets, however travel cost also arose (27.80 EUR), and the cancellation costs of the hotel in Odessa also had to be paid (95.55 EUR). Additionally, the consumers according to the Regulation 261/2004 EC also claimed for 250 EUR compensation.
The air carrier paid the compensation and reimbursed the travel costs, and thus the consumers received 532 EUR.
Hungarian consumer/Norwegian enterprise
The consumer ordered tickets to a tennis competition in France. The enterprise undertook to deliver the tickets to the home address of the consumer. As the tickets did not arrive, upon the query the consumer was informed that the tickets would be handed over on site. However the consumer did not receive the tickets there. The consumer claimed for the reimbursement of the tickets and the costs related to the travel in a total value of 2550 EUR.
The ADR of Norway made a decision in this case, where the enterprise had to pay 1428 EUR and 219 GBP. The enterprise complied wit the decision and paid the given amount to the consumer.
Swedish consumer/Hungarian air carrier
The Swedish consumer was to fly from Budapest to Malmo, but as a consequence of the airspace closure due to the volcanic ash the flight was cancelled. The consumer was informed about the cancellation by SMS, but the air carrier did not offer re-routing or other assistance either. The consumer finally organized his return journey and asked the Hungarian air carrier for the reimbursement of 6200 SEK.
The air carrier paid 219.05 EUR to consumer including the costs of travel and meals. In addition, the company also reimbursed the ticket costs for the parts of the journey not made. The total paid sum to the consumer was 998 SEK.
Hungarian consumer/Czech air carrier
The Hungarian consumer travelled from Budapest to Madrid via Prague. The consumer noticed in Madrid that a fistful hole was on the baggage, which was reported at the airport. The Consumer had to have the baggage foiled before the return flight. The consumer tried several times to claim the air carrier for the reimbursement of the costs (55.2 EUR), but the consumer did not receive any relevant answer.
Although the air carrier did not consider the rate of the damage completely proved it reimbursed 5449 HUF to the consumer.
Finnish consumer /Hungarian air carrier
The Finnish consumer booked a flight on 08 May 2010 from Turku to Rome via Gdansk and a return flight from Rome to Turku via Warsaw. Some days later the consumer was notified that the Warsaw-Turku flight was cancelled due to economic reasons. The consumer was re-routed to a flight of another air carrier, however due to the different departure time the costs of accommodation and meals arisen have not been reimbursed. The consumer claimed for the reimbursement of 321 EUR.
The air carrier paid 225.61 EUR for the new flight booked by the consumer and for the hotel costs arisen.
Hungarian consumer/Austrian enterprise
The Hungarian consumer ordered various articles for education purposes via internet. The enterprise did not deliver the products despite of several e-mails.
The ECC-NET intervened and thus the enterprise delivered the ordered (value: 72 EUR) goods.
Slovakian consumer/Hungarian trader
The Slovakian consumer bought a machine for household use for 117900 HUF. The machine broke down more times within a short time and had to be repaired. The consumer notified the enterprise that he did not need further repair, he wanted to exercise the right of withdrawal and claims for the refund of the purchase price.
The enterprise reimbursed the purchase price of 117900 HUF after taking over the product.
Hungarian consumer/air carrier in the UK
The Hungarian consumer flew with the air carrier, and the baggage of the consumer damaged during the flight. The air carrier after several exchange of letters offered 98 EUR compensation, which the consumer accepted. The air carrier sent a bank cheque that could not be directly redeemed since the bank that did not have a branch in Hungary. The ECC examined the possibilities and advised the consumer try to exchange the cheque at the consumer’s bank.
The consumer exchanged the cheque at his own bank and received 25500 HUF after deducting the handling costs.
Czech consumer/Hungarian air carrier
The Czech consumer wanted to fly from Paris to Prague, but the flight was cancelled. The air carrier did not offer meals, and according to the consumer the provision of information was poor, and the price of the tickets for the part of the journey not made was not reimbursed to the consumer. Although the air carrier referred to extraordinary circumstances as the cause of cancellation, the airport received and started other flights including that of the air carrier. The consumer did not get relevant response to the letters sent to the air carrier.
Thanks to the assistance of ECC-NET the air carrier paid 772 EUR to the consumer.
Hungarian consumer/German car rental company
The Hungarian consumer rented a car for his journey to Italy from the German enterprise. Upon arrival at the airport the consumer was informed that he would not receive the car, since there was no enough money on his debit card. The consumer was not notified when renting the car and on the voucher about the amount of the required deposit. The consumer claimed for 120.71 EUR the booking fee.
The enterprise refunded the total amount.
Bulgarian consumer / Hungarian air carrier
The Bulgarian consumer would have travelled with two friends from Sofia to Venice, but the flight was cancelled due to the volcanic ash, and they had to travel by bus. The consumer claimed for the reimbursement of the price of the tickets for the part of the journey not made.
The air carrier paid the price of the tickets in a value of 540 EUR.
Hungarian consumer/Austrian air carrier
The consumer booked tickets to the flights Budapest-Vienna-Helsinki and Helsinki-Vienna-Budapest of the Austrian air carrier. The consumer’s boarding was denied due to overbooking, then later it was stated that the consumer arrived late, at the same time the consumer was given a free ticket to the flight on the following day. The consumer firmly declared that he did not arrive late at the gate and the denied boarding was illegal. In addition the consumer left his coat on board, which was lost, so he had to buy a new one. The consumer claimed for1243 EUR.
As a consequence of the assistanceof the ECC-NET the air carrier reimbursed 483 EUR to the consumer.