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Consumer body crackdown on dodgy goods

Tuesday, July 29 10:24:50

Over 26,000 unsafe products ranging from fake cosmetics to dangerous toys were destroyed while 496 product complaints cases were investigated in a busy year for the National Consumer Agency.

Its annual report today shows that 115 Enforcement Actions were taken against businesses in breach of consumer law while there were more than 56,000 consumer contacts handled and more than 1.15 million visits to the Agency's consumer website.

Two Prosecutions were secured from traders in relation the sale of clocked cars and compensation orders were also secured from the courts for the affected consumers.

Two Compliance Notices issued to Ryanair and Aer Lingus for failing to provide an email address to facilitate contact from customers. Six Undertakings secured from domestic waste operators that their consumer contracts would be amended to remove terms considered unfair. One further Undertaking secured in relation to the sale of a clocked car, the annual report shows.

Two Compliance Notices issued to Ryanair and Aer Lingus for failing to provide an email address to facilitate contact from customers.

Six Undertakings secured from domestic waste operators that their consumer contracts would be amended to remove terms considered unfair. One further Undertaking secured in relation to the sale of a clocked car.

The Agency also ordered the destruction of more than 26,000 unsafe products before they reached the Irish market and processed more than 2,300 unsafe product notifications received via the Europe-wide rapid alert system - RAPEX. Of these 122 were found to be relevant to the Irish marketplace and required further action by the NCA Product Safety team.

Chief Executive of the National Consumer Agency, Karen O'Leary, said, "A strong statutory body which champions and protects the rights of consumers and takes action has never been more important. Our work in 2013 focused on enforcing consumer law across a range of sectors. We undertook successful prosecutions against two traders for the sale of a clocked car. Through a series of undertakings targeting firms in the waste sector we secured extensive changes to terms in consumers' contracts which we considered unfair. We tackled breaches in consumer law in the retail sector through the use of our enforcement tools resulting in positive change for consumers. We also intervened on behalf of consumers when we believed traders were acting unfairly."

"Empowering consumers with information to help them assert their consumer rights and make informed decisions underpinned all our work throughout the year. In 2013, our helpline handled more than 56,000 consumer contacts. Visits to our website increased 34pc, hitting more than 1.15 million visits in 2013. On average, we responded to 160 contacts a day from consumers seeking information and guidance. The level of contacts we receive highlights that across some sectors companies are failing to deliver effective customer service when an issue arises," she said.

Ms. O'Leary said that issues prompting consumers to contact the National Consumer Agency during 2013 included problems with goods or services; contracts or invoices/billing.

"The number of consumers contacting us on ecommerce or distance selling issues is also increasing as more and more people buy online. Our enforcement actions against Aer Lingus and Ryanair for failing to provide an email contact address for consumers is an example of our enforcement work in this increasingly important channel," she said.

For more visit: www.businessworld.ie