MEP Daniel Dalton has, as a rapporteur on A New Deal for Consumers, emphasised the importance of making consumer rights more known, accessible and comprehensible for European consumers. His plans involve launching an App which would provide a single source of advice and dispute resolution. Dalton has argued that “The App would identify what assistance users require, whether it is information about their rights, help in securing a refund or the resolution of a long running dispute, and direct them to the correct source.”
As a pan-European consumer network, the ECC offices are in daily contact with consumers from all the member states, Norway and Iceland. Thus, we are in a unique position to understand European consumers – and the modern European consumer both wants and needs digital solutions.
The Flight Calculator – An easy tool for consumers
Through the work of ECC Network, we have seen that consumer rights can often be too complicated and inaccessible. This was especially true for Air Passenger Rights, where your rights are dependent on the reason for the disruption, the distance to your destination, how long the delay is, and whether the journey takes place within the EU or not. This was confusing and hard to understand, so the Norwegian Consumer Council wanted to make it easier for everyone. After collecting and structuring data for travellers, the National Enforcement Body and European consumer organisations, completing several customer journeys and conducting tests, an online flight calculator where you can generate specific information regarding your rights was developed. This flight calculator is available in the Spanish European Consumer Centre web site.
The calculator has been used more than 330 000 times so far this year, and the numbers keep rising. It has been translated into 20 languages, and has, through the ECC Network, been distributed to more than 30 consumer organisations across Europe. At the Digital Communication Awards 2018 in Berlin it won the 1st price for digital tool developed by Associations & NGOs.
The success of the flight calculator not only shows that there is a clear need for digital consumer solutions, but also that European consumer rights can be digitalised. The ECC-Net believes that this is the future for the Single Market, where goods and services flow freely across the borders, and where your rights are easy, fast, and accessible when consumers need them the most.
The ECC-Net welcomes the European Parliament’s increased focus on the need for digital solutions, and we are prepared to share our experiences, insights and expertise to help develop and promote new tools.