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Malta achieves positive results in Consumer Market Scoreboard

The European Commission’s recently published edition of the Consumer Market Scoreboard provides an overview of EU citizens’ assessment of the performance of 40 key consumer goods and services markets. The study is based on data collected in 2017.

Consumer products and services are rated based on five key indicators. These are: trust in sellers to comply with consumer protection rules; comparability of offers; choice of retailers and suppliers; the extent to which markets live up to what consumers expect; and the detriment caused to consumers by problems experienced with products and services. The prices of goods and services and the switching to different products and services are also monitored and analysed in this study.

Malta’s average in the goods markets is above the EU average by two per cent and by 3.5 per cent in the services markets. In this year’s scoreboard Malta ranked as one of the top three out of the 28 Member States for three goods and four service markets. In the goods markets, the study shows that out of 15 goods markets surveyed in Malta, nine performed better than the EU average.

Malta ranked above the EU average with regard to consumers’ trust that sellers respect their rights, that consumers find offers on the market which are easy to compare and that consumers are happy with the choice of products available. The other areas, mainly the detriment consumers suffer by problems experienced in the market and consumers’ expectations, are in line with the EU average.

Among Malta’s top three goods markets we find ‘ICT products’, such as tablets and laptops. In this market the MCCAA reports a decrease of 18 per cent in the number of complaints registered. This shows that when problems arise, sellers are increasingly abiding by their legal obligations, hence the decreased need for consumers to lodge complaints with the authority. The report identifies that in the ‘electronic products’ market, Malta performed below the EU average. Hence, the MCCAA will focus its efforts on this area.  

Best performing services in Malta include loans, credit and credit cards, mortgages and real estate

In the services markets, the scoreboard reveals that 19 out of the 23 services markets surveyed in Malta have performed above the EU average. Furthermore, Malta has improved in seven markets since 2013, led by ‘electricity services’.

In fact, Malta ranks 4.2 per cent higher than the EU average in this area, with the ranking higher than Denmark, Sweden, Holland, England, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Compared to the EU 28 average, the best performing services markets in Malta are the ‘bank accounts’, ‘Loans, credit and credit cards’, ‘mortgages’, ‘real estate services’ and ‘mobile telephone services’. The results are in tandem with efforts by the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority in view that in 2017 it published two charters focusing on the rights and responsibilities of consumers when purchasing banking and investment services.

The main objective of these charters, which were drafted in consultation with various stakeholders from the financial services sector, was to provide guidance to consumers on what information they are entitled to when acquiring a banking service and to make consumers aware of the financial costs and risks when they make an investment.

As in the goods markets, the scoreboard shows that Maltese consumers trust service providers and find offers on the market that are easy to compare and are also happy with the choice component. What is not above the EU average but still in line with the EU average is the detriment consumers suffer by problems experienced in the market. However, the proportion of respondents who came across problems and the proportion of those who complained because of the problems experienced are in line with the EU average.

Regarding the lowest scoring service market which is ‘tram, local bus, metro and underground services’, Malta scored below the EU average in three components: choice, comparability and detriment. In this case one has to keep in mind that Malta has limited alternatives to the public bus transport due to its small size. This could justify why Malta ranked below average in choice and comparability.

The 2018 consumer market scoreboard reveals that Malta sustains the significant improvement observed in 2015. The MCCAA is committed to work with stakeholders and consumers to ensure that markets work for consumers.

Odette Vella is director, Information, Education and Research Directorate, Office for Consumer Affairs, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

odette.vella@mccaa.org.mt

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