Studies and surveys indicate that obstacles for consumers, including particularly high costs, risk of litigation, complex and lengthy procedures, mean that, one out of five European consumers will not go to court to seek redress for claims less than 1000 Euros. The debate about collective redress has been going on at EU level for decades. Countless studies have been produced; including scarecrow scenarios and a plethora of solutions have been proposed to tackle the more or less convincing concerns expressed about collective redress.
COFACE joined the BEUC campaign advocating a collective redress mechanism by signing along with 12 other NGOs a letter addressed to Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding (see below). On behalf of family organisations and families across Europe, COFACE has also sent a letter to the Commission Vice-President stressing the family perspective of the issue:"Through the numerous studies carried out by the Commission, it has appeared clearly that for relatively small claims, consumers will never file a complaint. Therefore, although Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms appear to give good results, these will only "resolve" the issues of a few consumers who are willing to take the time to follow through with the procedure. Companies are well aware of this fact and can thus keep most of the illegal profit originating from illegal practices".
"[Families] have better things to do than contact ADR schemes, file complaints, call up customer service centres, send emails, assemble evidence etc, in order to get a 10 or 20€ refund. Collective redress is the only solution which does not require a pro-active and time consuming involvement of parents".
COFACE will follow further developments on collective redress with great attention and hopes that the Commission's pledge to protect consumers across the EU will live up to EU citizens' expectations and do justice to their rights.
Published on 10 Nov 2011
Updated on 17 Feb 2012