Complaints about online fraud have increased by 82%
Of Maria Herakleous
In recent months and after the return of the consumption tax on fuel and the termination of electricity subsidies, complaints and complaints from consumers in relation to punctuality are reaching the Pancypriot Consumers' Association. According to the official of the Association, Virginia Christou, several of the cases are related to the recent implementation of the measure for the zero VAT rate on seven categories of basic necessities and the fact that it is not applied to some businesses. Complaints are also received daily from consumers about continuous increases in the prices of produce and fuel, and there are reports that the latest measures such as the extension of zero-rating to sugar and coffee are not substantive anti-accuracy measures and do not protect consumers. The demand in many cases seems to be to restore the fuel subsidy and increase the list of products with zero or reduced VAT.
The number of complaints/complaints related to accuracy, up to September 18, at 215. The number for all of 2022 was 89, an increase of around 142%. There was also an increase – to 1,585 – in consumer complaints related to energy, the sponsorship plans of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry, the EAC and RES.
Specifically, these are 98 complaints which concern, among others:
– Bureaucracy resulting in non-service.
– The inability to complete the application for participation in the ministry's sponsorship plan which is available in electronic form.
– The electricity charges after the termination of the subsidy at the end of May in the June two-month bill.
– Issues of increased reading on EAC meters, which according to complaints did not correspond to actual consumption. The majority of issues have been resolved.
Travel and online scams
Complaints about electronic fraud have increased by 82% (88 until September 18 this year), while there is a 150% increase in fraud through electronic messages using the name of various businesses (45 complaints against 18 for the whole of 2022). There has also been an increase in complaints/complaints regarding flight cancellations, boarding delays, or incorrect baggage handling. As V. Christou reported to “K”, out of the 161 complaints submitted until September, 15 concerned cases of passengers on the Cyprus Airways flight from Rome – Larnaca on August 31. He also said that since the coronavirus pandemic, complaints of this nature have increased due to air traffic controller strikes, flight delays due to cabin and ground staff shortages, and by extension, baggage mishandling in several cases. He clarified, however, that for issues concerning passenger rights, the European Consumer Center, which has also been burdened with several complaints, is responsible, as well as the Department of Civil Aviation, which is the National Competent Body for the implementation of (EC) 261/2004 regarding compensation and providing assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding or cancellation or delay of their flight.
They do not list prices
By 26% there was a 26% increase in complaints about not indicating prices on the tag or the shelf where the product is available. More specifically, from 165 last year, the number of complaints reached 208 until September 18, 2023. This category also includes complaints from consumers who notice a difference between the listed price of the product on the shelf and what they are ultimately charged at the store checkout. More and more cases of not listing prices have been found recently, especially in coastal tourist areas. Specifically for the month of August, twenty cases have been recorded, most of which concern the port of Paphos and the area of Ayia Napa. The evidence shows that there is a need for more intensive controls in these areas.
On the good side of the comparison of the two periods is the decrease recorded in cases of application of the product guarantee (339 last year against 237 until September 2023). There was also a 22% decrease in complaints about unfair trade practices (98 last year compared to 76 this year), a 30% decrease in food safety (from 56 last year to 39 this year) as well as a small decrease in complaints about abusive terms in consumer documents.
Regarding the e-kalathi, which is again in the news, the Consumers Association considers that although it is a measure that does not it will directly contribute to the reduction of inflation and accuracy, however indirectly it creates a form of healthy competition between businesses, which will practically affect the market and we may see a gradual reduction in prices from the various competing businesses. However, some reservations about its effectiveness are expressed, albeit individually. As Mrs. Christou explained, consumers report that due to the fact that it is an electronic tool, it may not be able to be used by all consumers, especially older ones.