EU study reveals: Consumer awareness and skills are worryingly low

On Monday the EU Commission published the results of a survey which was carried out in the EU-27, Iceland and Norway. The aim of the survey was to assess consumer awareness and skills. In so doing, 56,471 consumers were asked 70 questions coving three main dimensions of empowerment: consumer skills, consumer awareness of their rights and consumer assertiveness.

The results show that:

  • more than one in five Europeans interviewed had encountered a problem for which they had cause for complaint. The average detriment was €375. Of those who turned to public authorities for help, only 50 percent were satisfied with the help they received.
  • consumers struggle with simple calculations: only 45 percent could answer three questions correctly.
  • only 2 percent of consumers recognised five common public information logos.
  • 33 percent of consumers thought that the CE mark meant “Made in Europe”.
  • consumers were unaware about their rights such as guarantees, cooling off periods and unfair commercial practices.

Commenting on the results, EU Commissioner for Health&Consumer Policy, Dali said: “Worrying results indicate that a significant number of consumers are potentially vulnerable to frauds, scams, pressure selling, and do not know they can re-consider their choices and avoid unnecessary purchases. If consumers cannot easily make choices and avoid harm, not only do they suffer but so do the innovative, honest businesses which drive growth.”

The Commission will consult stakeholders in the second half of 2011 on policy options and prepare a communication on consumer empowerment in 2012.


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Source: DG Sanco