Consumer complaints: Who do you call when things go wrong?

‘Pricewatch receives more complaints about travel than any other area, although telecoms come close’

The news from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) this week that faulty products and bad customer care is costing Irish people the guts of one billion euro each year is as depressing as it is unsurprising.

More than 1.6 million people struggled to get redress last year, the CCPC study suggested, with hundreds of thousands left hanging on telephones or waiting in line or dealing with chatbots for weeks and sometimes months before they could get problems dealt with.

The CCPC helplines referred thousands of people to the Small Claims Court while others were advised on how else they might get matters resolved to their satisfaction. But what are those avenues and why have some of them been changed — or even shut off in recent months?

So, where can we go for help if things go wrong?


Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

This is Ireland’s overarching consumer body charged with empowering consumers, answering queries and — crucially — enforcing competition and consumer protection law. It has had its role strengthened in recent years and can now address issues with providers more forcefully and take enforcement action against traders who refuse or fail to provide consumers with a remedy for faulty goods or services or fail or refuse to make a reimbursement to which people are entitled.

The CCPC helpline was called about 40,000 times last year, which works out an average of more than 100 calls a day. Faulty goods and services topped the list of reasons people got in touch, with vehicles, transport, telecommunications, home building, holidays, travel, clothing and footwear the sectors most frequently identified as problematic.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has also applied to the European Commission to be the new provider for the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland service. The ECC was shut down last year and it is badly missed. ECCs here and throughout the EU help consumers who have problems with operators in other member states.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says it expects final European Commission approval shortly and it is in the process of setting up a new ECC service. “This includes recruiting complaint handlers and we expect to have a case handling service available to consumers in April 2024,″ a spokeswoman says.

If a consumer is having difficulties with a cross-border business, their first step is to visit the new ECC Ireland website to find out what their rights are. The website provides information across a wide range of topics from buying online and service contracts to flights, package holidays and car rental.

Contact:; 01-402 5555

The Irish Aviation Authority

Pricewatch receives more complaints about travel than any other area, although telecoms come close. In times past consumers would have relied on the Commission for Aviation Regulation for help but its role has been taken over by the Irish Aviation Authority.

We asked the authority why the change and a spokesman replied that “the Government completed the process of institutional reform of aviation regulation and air navigation services in Ireland in the second quarter of 2023. On May 1st, 2023, the safety and security regulation functions of the Irish Aviation Authority were merged with the economic and consumer protection functions of the Commission for Aviation Regulation (Car) to create a stand-alone single civil aviation regulator for the State.

“This organisation is called the Irish Aviation Authority and is since last May the established body for dealing with air passenger rights and the rights of people with reduced mobility where it relates to airports and aviation.”

Consumer information can be found at the following address:

The Central Bank of Ireland

The Central Bank overseas the State’s monetary policy and keeps a keen eye on Ireland’s entire financial system, from regulating banks to bringing them to heel when they let consumers down. It also works alongside the CCPC and the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman in areas of overlapping concern. It also looks after the Central Credit Register, the centralised system for collecting personal and credit information on loans.



These guys are the gatekeepers of our communications and if you are struggling to make yourself heard with your phone or broadband provider these are the ones to go to. ComReg has strict rules of engagement and will, typically, ensure you have exhausted a company’s internal complaints system before it will do anything to help, so while it can intervene on your behalf and has not been found wanting when it has come to penalising errant telecoms companies, the process is not always as speedy as enraged customers might like.

Contact:; 01-804 9668

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman focuses on complaints involving banks, credit unions, brokers, money lenders, hire-purchase providers, health insurance companies and retail credit firms. It can be a daunting experience to have a case heard by the ombudsman and the process is not quick but it can get results when all else has failed.

Contact:; 01 567 7000

The Ombudsman

The Ombudsman examines complaints from people who believe they have been unfairly treated by providers of public services such as government departments, local authorities, the Health Service Executive and publicly funded higher education bodies. It can also examine complaints about private nursing homes.


Small Claims Court

“Court” might make it sound a bit daunting and while it can be it’s not as bad as a regular court and the process is pleasingly simple. Any grievance against a retailer or service provider that has a financial worth of €2,000 or less can be pursued here and there is no need to involve a solicitor.

You lodge a claim at or download an application form from the site. You give details of the claimant (you), the respondent (the business), the amount claimed and the details of your claim. You must complete an application and pay the €25 fee.

Your claim is then processed by a District Court clerk. The clerk informs the business of your claim, after which it has 15 days to respond. If it doesn’t, you win and the District Court makes an order in your favour. If it does dispute your claim, the court registrar negotiates with both parties to try to reach an agreement. The setting tends to be informal and private. The registrar asks both parties to outline their side of the story and tries to reach a deal. If this isn’t possible, a hearing before a District Court judge is arranged.


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