Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Know Your Consumer Rights Abroad

Know Your Consumer Rights Abroad

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 23 December 2009

UK consumers will be able to shop for services in Europe with renewed confidence as Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan launched a new free service informing them of their rights.

The European Consumer Centre for Services (ECCS) is a website and telephone service which provides general information on consumer laws and rights when buying a service in other European countries. It will go live on Tuesday 29 December.

The services that UK consumers can get advice on include:

· Tourism services such as hotels, timeshares and car hire;

· Construction services such as architects, builders, electricians, and plumbers;

· Estate agents and letting agents;

· Private education providers such as language schools;

· Accountancy services and lawyers

The ECCS will make it easier for consumers to make more informed choices and give them more confidence when buying from an unfamiliar source. The portal will also have contact details of organisations that could provide practical assistance in the case of dispute.

Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan said:

“Knowledgeable, confident consumers are much more likely to get a fair deal and get the right result when things go wrong. This is even more important when dealing with unfamiliar laws in a different country.

“The European Consumer Centre for Services will allow UK consumers to shop for services in other EU countries with confidence”.

Trading Standards Institute chief executive Ron Gainsford said:

“We are delighted to host the European Consumer Centre for Services alongside the existing EC centre providing advice and support for UK consumers shopping across the internal market. These ECC initiatives complement the work trading standards do in this country, sharing our aim to empower consumers to make more informed choices”.

The European Consumer Centre for Services will be linked to the existing European Consumer Centre (ECC) which deals with consumers that have bought goods or services in Europe and have a problem with that contract. Both offer advice on rights when buying from another country in the European Economic Area – the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Notes to Editors

1) Consumers can visit The website includes an online contact form which can be used to submit questions and enquires.

2) The ECCS will also offer information and advice over the telephone on 0845 608 94 94. Lines are open Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, closed bank and public holidays.

3) Alternatively you can email the ECCS directly at

4) The European Consumer Centre for Services will be delivered by the Trading Standards Institute and is funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. It has been set up as a requirement under article 21 of the EU Services Directive which comes into force on 28 December 2009. You can read about the Directive here:

5) Best practice for business is provided through the Businesslink website to help educate and train their staff on key consumer rights.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.


BIS Press Office

Matthew Barker
Phone: 020 7215 5946

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