Friday, December 07 15:21:32
Ireland continues to rank below average in a new EU study of consumer markets with banks and investment firms especially failing Irish consumers, according the latest Consumer Scoreboard published by the European Commission today.
Markets for banking services, investment products and mortgages score particularly badly. More positively, the report notes above-average satisfaction in some key markets such as electricity and gas services.
The annual Consumer Markets Scoreboard ranks 51 services and goods markets, covering more than 60pc of household expenditure, to show which are likely to be failing consumers across the EU.
It looks at consumer trust in retailers, ease of comparing goods or services on offer, incidence of complaints and problems and overall satisfaction. Consumer choice, ease of tariff/provider switching and price differences between countries are also monitored.
Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Tonio Borg said: "Consumer expenditure accounts for 56pc of overall European GDP. Markets where consumers are confused, misled, find it hard to switch or have little choice will be less competitive, at a cost to consumers and the economy as a whole. The Scoreboard remains an EU-wide indicator of consumers conditions in the Single Market and I call on national authorities and businesses stakeholders to keep tabs on underperforming markets and take action to improve the situation."
The Commission will now launch two in-depth studies. The first will focus on the market of second-hand cars. It will review the regulatory environment across EU countries and identify main problems and complaints reported by consumers. The second study will analyse the issue of consumer vulnerability, to identify more effective policies for strengthening the rights of vulnerable consumers.
Banking services remain the worst performing group of markets from a consumer perspective across the EU. Consumers struggle to compare the different fees and conditions offered and find it difficult to choose the best deal, or to subsequently switch providers.
Telecom markets score low as well. While the number of problems has dropped considerably compared with 2011, it still remains the highest of all market groups. At the same time, the markets for TV subscriptions and internet provision register the highest increase in score compared with 2011. This is due in particular to positive developments in some EU12 countries and could be linked to an increasing bundling of offers (combining telephone, TV and internet).
Energy markets have particularly poor scores on choice, comparability and switching suppliers and tariffs, suggesting that consumers are not in a position to make full use of the opportunities created by market liberalisation.
The market for second-hand cars ranks at the bottom of goods markets for the third consecutive year, with the lowest scores on trust, comparability and highest incidence of problems.
The largest decrease in scores were registered by postal services and public transport. This may reflect the cut in budgets due to austerity policies, since both markets depend on public funding in many Member States. In addition, the market for vehicle fuels has seen significant deterioration in its score for a second year in a row.
Complaint centres from around a third of EU countries have started to submit harmonised complaints data to the Commission. While the data is still scarce, it already gives an initial picture of consumer complaints patterns in different markets.