Fewer than 50% of European consumers feel informed of their rights and vulnerable groups, in particular, are having difficulty in understanding the choices available to them, and are not aware of their rights.

Speaking in the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a debate on ‘Strengthening the rights of vulnerable consumers’ the Ireland East MEP called for particular efforts to be made at the EU and national level to ensure that consumers who, for various reasons, cannot access or use the internet do not find themselves in a situation of vulnerability or isolation.

“As more information moves online and face-to-face customer services move to digitalisation, some senior consumers are becoming increasingly vulnerable as they face barriers and are cut off from information and the channels to uphold their rights are less accessible to them.”

“Consumers, and senior consumers in particular, who have cannot access or use the internet cannot take full advantage of the benefits of online commerce, access information on their rights and complaints procedures. They are therefore excluded from a substantial part of the internal market and are placed at a significant disadvantage as they could be paying more for the same products or are dependent on assistance from others.”

The Ireland East MEP called on the European Commission to ensure that, in terms of consumer rights within the EU, the digital divide does not result in barriers to information. 

“Information on consumer rights needs to be better distributed through all channels, not only official channels but also through consumer organisations and regional offices, which are much closer, more visible and easily accessible to less mobile consumers and consumers who do not have access to the internet.”