Other areas and means of consumer protection, financial arbiter, The European consumer centre
The financial arbiter is an extrajudicial authority established by the state competent to adjudicate certain disputes in the financial market.
The consumer can turn to it for its help free of charge, for example, in disputes:
- with a bank about the accuracy of payments posted.
- with the lender to withdraw from the credit agreement, or about the fee for an early repayment of the loan.
- with the insurance company or insurance intermediary in disputes arising from providing or arranging life insurance.
- with some public transport operators regarding a prepaid fare.
Particulars of the proposal, as well as further details about the proceedings before the Financial Arbiter can be found on the website: http://www.finarbitr.cz or in the Office of the Financial Arbiter.
The European Consumer Centre
The European Consumer Centre provides consumers mainly with:
- free information and advice on consumer rights in EU countries, Norway and Iceland.
- free assistance in dealing with their complaints about the quality of purchased goods and services or on the behavior of professionals in those countries.
- in the event of a dispute, assists in the search for an amicable solution to the dispute with a trader, or it serves as a place of contact for free of charge assistance to consumers for extrajudicial solutions for their disputes with traders in those countries.
If a Czech consumer buys a product in a German internet shop, and that product is somehow damaged or not functioning, the Czech consumer can turn to the European Consumer Center for help.
The European Consumer Center cannot deal with situations, where the seller is not an entrepreneur, but a physical entity, or if the seller is from the Czech Republic or from an another state, which is not under the influence of the European Consumer Center (for example, the USA)
Czech Trade Inspectorate and other supervisory bodies
The Czech Trade Inspectorate (CTI) is a government authority that carries out the control and supervision of legal entities and individuals that sell or supply goods and services to the market, unless under special laws such supervision is exercised by another administrative authority.
CTI supervises, for example:
- compliance of conditions set to ensure the quality of goods (excluding food), including their health status or conditions of storage,
- whether products placed on the market comply with the relevant technical requirements, and have a specified label and are safe.
- whether the products, that are on the market correspond to the technical requirements, whether they have a proper label and are safe
- whether, during the conclusion of a consumer loan with non-bank providers, all legal requirements are fulfilled
In addition to financial sanctions for breaking the relevant regulations, the CTI also bans products, which do not meet the requirements set out in the legal regulations.
CTI also checks, whether the entrepreneurs correctly inform the consumers about their rights, whether they meet the given deadlines for refunds, and give the consumers confirmations in advance about the way complaints are being dealt with, and so on. On the other hand, a consumer´s dissatisfaction with the way the claim is being dealt with (for example, the claim was rejected), does not fall under the competence of the CTI. In this case, the consumer can turn to the law courts, or choose an extrajudicial form of solving such a dispute.
Supervision of the quality of food products is dealt with the State Agricultural Inspectorate.
Supervision of the health status of food from animals is dealt with by the State Veterinary Administration.
Extrajudicial ways of solving disputes
If a dispute arises between the consumer and the entrepreneur, it is not always necessary to go to court and it is also necessary not to renounce your rights.
As already indicated in the interpretation of individual areas of consumer protection, state authorities in the Czech Republic (e.g. Financial Arbiter) and government-supported non-profit organization offer consumers a variety of extrajudicial solutions, and very often for free. The aim is to gradually get to a state, where all disputes between a consumer and an entrepreneur that arose from the sale of goods or provision of services can be submitted to the appropriate court for settling consumer disputes.
Non-governmental consumer organizations currently provide mainly consultations in this area of law and help with solutions to certain consumer disputes. A consumer can turn to:
The Czech Consumer Association
Pod Altánem 99/103, 100 00 Prague 10, tel.: 261 263 574, e-mail: email@example.com
The Civil Association of consumers TEST
Černomořská 419/10, 101 00 Prague 10 — Vršovice, tel.: 241 404 922, e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Bělehradská 118, 120 00 Prague 2, tel.: 222 516 521, e-mail: email@example.com
Consumers Defence Association – Association
Mečová 5, 602 00 Brno, tel.: 900101010 (10,- Kč/min.), e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Tyršova 1832/7, 120 00 Prague 2, tel.: 224 241 589, e-mail: email@example.com
Extrajudicial way of solving disputes
An extrajudicial form of settling disputes is also arbitration. Given that in the past some entrepreneurs used this, to the disadvantage of consumers, consumer protection currently concerns even this type of procedure. The Legislation can be found in the Act no. 216/1994 Coll., on arbitration.
The arbitration agreement must be concluded for consumer disputes in writing and separately (i.e., not as part of the terms and conditions), otherwise it is invalid. Before the conclusion of the arbitration clause, the entrepreneur must, in advance, provide an adequate explanation of arbitration proceedings to the consumer. The matter may then be decided only by a permanent arbitration court or a person who is registered on the list of arbitrators maintained by the Department of Justice. If the consumer did not receive the required information, or if the arbitrator ruled in violation of the regulations on consumer protection, the consumer may, within three months of the arbitration ruling, turn to the court for revocation of the arbitration ruling.
Useful web links