The Consumer Ombudsman has been inundated with complaints about electronic commerce stores, according to the institution’s latest report published on Wednesday, attributed to the swing of Greek consumers toward online purchases.
Complaints by consumers to the watchdog regarding deception or losses from products paid for and not delivered were the second biggest category in the sector of consumer goods in 2019, which along with electronic communication and credit services were the sectors with the highest number of complaints last year.
E-shop references topped 12% of all complaints made to the Consumer Ombudsman, with the head of the independent authority, Lefteris Zagoritis, saying that “the same trend has strengthened in the first four months of 2020, which is expected to continue, as the restrictions on physical transactions due to the pandemic have created new consumer patterns and increasingly turned citizens toward online transactions for covering their consumer needs.”
Last year the Consumer Ombudsman received 11,343 complaints, up by a considerable 13.2% from the 10,017 registered in 2018. This was the seventh consecutive year of annual growth in requests by consumers to the authority for arbitration. In the period from 2014 to 2019, annual submissions grew by an impressive 170.6%.
Besides e-commerce, there was also an increase in complaints regarding loan debts and consumer debts from utility bills, including electricity, water and telecommunications. These complaints often concerned consumer references to the operation of debt collection companies. The Ombudsman’s report says that complaints against debt collection companies were by far the top subject of complaints, accounting for 47.6% of all references regarding the credit sector last year. Consumers mostly complained they were unjustifiably harassed by collection companies about debts they had already paid off.
Another interesting finding of the report was the great increase in complaints about specific sectors last year – compared to the year before – such as energy and water (up by 41.9%), transport services (up 29.3%), entertainment services (22%) and health services (21.2%). The latter concerns complaints about physical damage from unorthodox surgery methods.