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Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Greyhound among companies pursued by consumer agency

The National Consumer Agency received 56,000 contacts last year.

THE NATIONAL CONSUMER Agency secured two convictions last year and also took enforcement actions on companies like Ryanair, Aer Lingus and Greyhound.

The cases were detailed in the NCA’s annual report for 2013 published today and outlined that 115 actions were taken last year for breaches in consumer law.

Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus were investigated for failing to provide an email address on their website and were issued with a notice of compliance. Although both airlines appealed the notice to the district court they withdrew their appeals and added the addresses as requested.

Chief executive Karen O’Leary says that people seeking help for the purchase of goods and services online is one of the main trends they have observed in recent times:

The number of consumers contacting us on e-commerce 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.

The two convictions pursued by the NCA in 2013 both related to cases of ‘car clocking’ where the mileage of a car is altered illegally. A car trader from Kanturk in Co. Cork and a second based in Tallaght in Dublin were convicted of the offence with both ordered to pay compensation to the consumer.

In another case, the agency reviewed the contracts being used by waste operators and ordered that they be changed as they were considered to be unfair.

The changes were secured following reviews of waste operators Greyhound (in December 2012), City Bin, Panda Waste, Greenstar, Advanced Environmental Solutions, Country Clean Recycling and Oxigen.

NCA stats National Consumer Agency National Consumer Agency

In the report the agency also pointed to its dealings with consumers over the the sale of pre-ordered Xbox One consoles at Xtra-Vision last year in which consumers complained that they were being asked to buy a game along with the console.

Consumer contact 

In total there were more than 56,000 contacts from consumers to the agency last year with the sale of second hand cars the most complained about issue. The sale of mobile phone handsets was in second in terms of the most inquired about transactions.

The top ten companies prompting consumer contacts during 2013 were Vodafone, Bank of Ireland, Three, Eircom, AIB, Meteor, Greyhound, O2, Ulster Bank with Harvey Norman and UPC both tied in tenth place.

The NCA, which is to be merged with the Competition Authority this year, handled an average of 160 contacts a day from consumers last year and had a total of 1.15 million visits to its website.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton says the merging of the two agencies will bring benefits for consumers:

This is an important year for the National Consumer Agency. Following the passage of the Competition and Consumer Protection Bill through the Oireachtas recently, the Agency will be amalgamating with the Competition Authority to create a new, more powerful consumer watchdog with a range of consumer and criminal powers at its disposal.

“As the results published today show, the agency which will form a crucial part of the new Consumer and Competition Protection Commission continues to perform strongly in advocating on behalf of consumers,” he added.

Read: Enforcement action taken against Christmas Direct over delivery delays >

Read: Legislation intended to protect consumers could lead to price increases and job losses >

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