Chartered Trading Standards Institute
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UK Government keeps critical service in place for consumers making purchases from abroad

UK consumers will continue to have access to a critical service that provides them redress in the event of a purchase being made abroad going wrong after an announcement that UK Government funding would continue for at least another year.

Having previously been partially funded by the EU, The UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) has been solely funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) since the UK’s departure from the EU, but its future was only assured until the end of last month (March 2022). Now BEIS has confirmed the UK Government’s funding pledge for the next 12 months.

To celebrate, the UKICC’s host body – the Chartered Trading Standards Institute - has released some key moments of the centre’s successful first 14 years on CTSI’s Journal of Trading Standards website.

UKICC Service Director, Andy Allen, yesterday said:

“UKICC is a vital tool in UK consumers’ armoury when they need to resolve disputes with traders based abroad. We play a critical role in the UK consumer protection landscape.

“A particularly important example of this is that it received a record number of enquiries in 48 hours in April 2020 – at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – from 1,000 UK consumers seeking its expertise and advice in relation to airline flight cancellations. This was the biggest influx of consumer enquiries since the 2010 Icelandic volcanic ash cloud caused chaos.

“The fact that we have received news that the UK Government will continue to fund us at least until the end of March 2023 is fantastic news for all UK consumers. The message from the UK International Consumer Centre as it celebrates the news of its assured future until the end of March 2023 is: ‘We’re still here, we’re still helping and we’re still free’.”

Lord Lindsay, President of host body the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said that the UK International Consumer Centre plays an essential role in empowering consumers, helping them to gain a better awareness of their rights and providing them with support when they need it most. 

He yesterday said:

“The UKICC is unique in that it helps UK consumers when they’ve got problems as a result of purchases outside the UK. Since it was formed in 2007, the centre has handled more than 150,000 cases of problem purchases for UK consumers – that’s a huge number of UK consumers who would be floundering if it wasn’t for the UKICC.

“Even though the UK has left the EU, the UKICC is still consistently dealing with large number of cases from UK consumers in dispute with EU traders. Many people are resuming their travel plans now that the COVID-19 restrictions have been cut and so we expect UK consumers to continue to need the help of the UKICC well into the future. 

“With the challenges after Brexit, COVID-19 recovery and new markets being explored, we thank Her Majesty’s Government for recognising that UK consumers need the help of the UKICC. Consumers need to be confident and feel protected in taking the opportunities created by trade with the EU and non-EU consumer markets as they open up and this announcement will help that.

“The UK International Consumer Centre’s growing partnerships – and reciprocal arrangements – with consumer organisations all over the world aim to support the resolution of disputes between UK consumers and traders based abroad. The availability of such support results in more confident and empowered UK consumers, making use of global markets.

“With possible divergence from EU consumer law and new global markets becoming accessible, it is great news that the UK Government has recognised that this is clearly not the time for the loss of such an important service.”

For UK consumers, the key benefit is that since the UK left the EU the UKICC has focused on extending its activities to help with disputes over purchases made in more and more non-European countries. This is critical to supporting consumer confidence as the UK extends its international trading partnerships.

CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, yesterday said:

“The UKICC is growing its partnerships with consumer organisations all over the world and now has a range of case-sharing arrangements with 10 non-EU countries. It is working hard to grow this part of its work, with discussions going on with other countries including Australia and Bangladesh.

“The UK is striving to capitalise on the huge potential generated by strengthening and growing trade with other countries. As the UK market effectively opens up to more countries and as more and more international trade deals are done, the UKICC wants to bring benefits for UK consumers shopping in those countries by providing advice and support on their problems with traders. We want to ensure that UK consumers are protected wherever they purchase products from and we are very proud of our record of getting successful outcomes for consumers, and this is something the Government recognises.

“The UKICC’s aim, as always, is still to provide free advice and support to consumers in dispute with traders based in countries outside the UK. It has helped hundreds of thousands of consumers since it started and hopes it can continue helping them well into the future.

“BEIS has continued its support of the UKICC and, by continuing to fund the service, has recognised the work that the centre does directly on the frontline of consumer support.”

Consumers can make contact with the UK International Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 01268 886690 Monday-Friday between 10am and 4pm.

Notes to editors                                                                                                                                     

For further information or a media interview, please contact UK International Consumer Centre’s press office on 01268 582206.

The UK International Consumer Centre (UKICC) works with the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 29 centres in the EU, including Iceland and Norway.

The aim of the UKICC is to provide free advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK as well as an increasing number of non-European countries. Our advisors will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.

The UKICC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel. Contact the UK ICC’s press office on 01268 582206 for media enquiries.

UKICC is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The UKICC service is delivered by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute http://www.tradingdelstandards.uk/             

Consumers can make contact with the UK International Consumer Centre via the website – www.ukecc.net – or by phone on 01268 886690 Monday-Friday between 10am and 4pm.

 

Channel website: https://www.tradingstandards.uk/

Original article link: https://www.tradingstandards.uk/news-policy/news-room/2022/uk-government-keeps-critical-service-in-place-for-consumers-making-purchases-from-abroad/

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