The European Consumer Centre reports that the air travel industry is the most complaint-ready. The centre is one of Europe’s most visible and respected consumer groups, providing data for regulatory bodies and commerce commissions within the EU. More than any other sector, it was air travel that attracted complaints in record numbers throughout the last twelve months.
Leading the complaint surge is Europe’s collection of low-cost airlines. With add-on fees for items such as hand luggage and massive cancellation charges, some of Europe’s ‘cheapest’ airlines ranked the worst with consumers in categories including customer service and cost transparency. Deceptive fares and destinations were a major cause of complaints, including those that require onward travel.
Lost baggage and delayed flights were also leading causes for complaint, with hundreds of tourists writing or phoning in to specify their issues with airlines. Based in Ireland, the centre has based its understanding of the international complaints surge on the presence of low-cost carrier RyanAir in Ireland. The airline is one of several in Europe renowned for its nickel-and-dime business strategy.
Other frequent complaints were based around car rentals, with hidden charges and questionable fees for ‘damage’ featuring prominently amongst the centre’s most notorious subjects. A growing number of travellers contacted the consumer centre to lodge complaints against car rental companies placing unwanted or renegotiated charges on their credit cards, often for damage that didn’t exist.
In contrast, the hotel and accommodation industry has experienced a relatively complaint-free year, despite low occupancy rates and poor business in general. Complaints about unauthorised hotel fees and other common accommodation scams were fairly low, with consumers generally pleased with their experiences in Europe’s major hotel chains and independent operators.