In February 2016, the European Commission published a report which looks into the difficulties some consumers face in making purchases, choosing, or switching providers. The study identifies the main reasons behind this vulnerability and what can be done to enable consumers to make better use of their rights and the alternatives the marketplace offers. Highlighting the perspective of older consumers, AGE contributed to this study, which mainly focuses on the online environment and the finance and energy sectors.
In an interview prior to the publication of this document, AGE Secretary-General, Anne-Sophie Parent, highlighted many of the points mentioned in the study, namely with regard to the age limits in financial products and the difficulties many older persons experience in accessing new technologies: they are not accessible to many older persons with functional limitations, they are too costly, not interoperable with other IT devices and are not designed with older persons’ needs in mind.
Regarding energy, Ms. Parent pointed out older consumers’ difficulties in accessing the best offers – in particular their difficulties in switching providers because they are not aware of what the market has to offer, they are reluctant to enter complicated procedures and they fear power cuts – as well as the difficulties for older persons with low pension income to cope with energy costs.
The EU study adequately reflects the barriers that prevent older consumers from benefiting from the liberalization of the European market, which requires for the consumers to constantly look for and understand the best offers. Yet, many older people, and especially very old people, find those procedures tedious and ‘fear’ change.
Follow this link to read more and download the study.