European consumer market performance on the rise
(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) New figures show improved conditions across all markets in Europe, though services and the energy sector give cause for concern.
Most Europeans are happy with goods markets, says the latest annual EU Consumer Markets Scoreboard - the tenth of its kind. Even the sectors that have performed worst in recent years -e.g. vehicle and train services - show signs of improvement. Banking remains the least satisfactory sector, with markets for investment products and mortgages ranking lowest.
The Commission screens hundreds of products and services across 52 consumer markets . Consumers across the EU then rank these by price, problems and complaints, trust in companies and satisfaction levels.
The scoreboard highlights the 3 most problematic areas:
- energy markets
Public utilities, fuel prices and markets for second-hand cars also need improvement.
Service markets consistently cause consumers more headaches than goods markets because some are highly complex and because marketing strategies sometimes deliberately make it difficult for consumers to choose the best deal.
The results also highlight regional disparities in satisfaction within the EU . People in older member countries are more satisfied with retail and automotive services , while those in newer EU countries are happier with telecoms services.
EU initiatives to improve consumer conditions in the worst performing sectors include
- new rules on payment accounts and retail investment products
- the Connected Continent initiative
- efforts to make energy offers and bills more transparent .
The Commission is also set to launch 2 in-depth studies :
- a market study into retail electricity comparing the current situation with that in 2010 and investigating the impact of the EU's Third Energy Package
- a behavioural study designed to help consumers understand terms and conditions better.
A recent study into vehicle fuel prices shows that prices can fluctuate several times a day in some countries. Price comparison websites have therefore become a useful tool for regulators to increase transparency and reduce prices through new pricing rules.
Problems with the second-hand car market are currently being investigated in depth, to get a better overview of the issues and identify possible solutions.
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