The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA), the main consumer watchdog body in Estonia, has shed some light on the over 4,000 complaints it received through 2023.
These include complaints from consumers who have forgotten to close out a car hire on platform Bolt, leaving the clock running in the process, as well as from those who were promised beautiful hotel room views while on a package tour, but were instead accommodated in a basement room.
Veiko Kopamees, head of the consumer disputes department at the TTJA, told ERR the authority received the highest number of disputes with regard to purchases of furniture, healthcare and beauty products
More of them too – over 4,000 in 2023, compared with a little over 3,500 in 2022 (the 2023 data is only at preliminary stage – ed.).
"Most of the appeals to the consumer disputes committee have related to undelivered goods or, in this case, non-reimbursement for a missing item.
"More than half of the appeals were related to thes reasons. There were fewer disputes regarding different contract duration times, or the quality of services," he added.
Kopamees said that the TTJA encourages parties to consumer disputes to seek compromise without a TTJA ruling; there were about 760 cases, where the parties managed to settle without TTJA intervention, in 2023, he said.
The largest single category of disputes related to the purchase of furniture (which the TTJA received around 300 complaints about), followed by health and beauty products (over 100 issues) and 85 complaints in connection with fixtures and fittings stores and with electronics stores.
In the case of over 900 complaints filed, the issue was leaving a contractual agreement, while around 500 cases the issue was damage.
The TTJA makes its decisions public; in the case of the hotel room disappointment, while the customer demanded a €1,500 reduction in the original price paid, the committee awarded them a €359 reduction.
The user of the Bolt rental car was less fortunate; the TTJA ruled in favor of Bolt, though recommended the app have a feature whereby for instance those who have rented a vehicle are reminded every morning if they have not closed up a rental period.
On the other hand, a customer whose sheepskin coat was damaged by a dry cleaners was granted €355 in compensation, on the grounds that the trader had not proved that they had explained the risks arising from the characteristics cleaning the item, and whether the customer wanted to go ahead with the cleaning order despite this.
Another dispute concerned the ending of one internet service provider contract and its replacement by another service provider (Levikom passed on the service to Rednet OÜ in this case); the original provider demanded over €100 in respect of equipment rental and also that the customer dismantle that equipment, placed at a height of 10 meters.
The committee ruled in favor of the user in this case too.
The TTJA resolves consumer disputes with businesses, and if the committee does rule in favor of the consumer, but the company does not comply with that ruler within one month, it gets blacklisted as a trader.
Editor: Karin Koppel, Andrew Whyte