We are among the EU's most trusting consumers
DESPITE anger over high prices and claims of being ripped off in the shops, Irish consumers remain among the most trusting in Europe.
Nearly three-quarters (73pc) of consumers here still think retailers have shoppers' best interests at heart.
And 68pc of shoppers here have confidence in protection watchdogs, while an almost identical amount -- 69pc -- believe their rights were respected last year.
Consumers here rank fourth on an EU confidence table behind the UK, Luxembourg and Finland, the European Commission said yesterday.
Ireland was one of only five EU countries to see a significant improvement on 2008 results.
The level of consumer complaints dropped in 2009 by half to 7.7pc of those surveyed and 49pc of those who did complain said they were satisfied with the way in which it was handled -- close to the EU average.
Ireland ranked second only to Finland for the fewest breaches of consumer law, with a tiny 6pc of retailers reporting that they had been inspected by consumer watchdogs, while only 1pc were found to have broken the rules. Hungary and Romania were ranked bottom in terms of consumer law.
Less than 11pc of Irish consumers were directly affected by product recalls in 2009 and only 12pc of Irish retailers said the authorities had checked how safe their products were during the last two years.
However, over 49pc of those surveyed said they had come across misleading advertising campaigns in the last year, while 32pc said they had identified downright fraudulent offers. Both figures were below the EU average.
The budget for consumer protection in Ireland was over €16m in 2009. Out of 685 inspections and regular visits carried out last year, 187 infringements were detected.
Ireland ranks fifth from the bottom when it comes to the amount of government funding given to national consumer organisations, with only €15 per 1,000 people coming from the public purse compared to a high of €1,667 in Luxembourg.
However, Irish consumers enjoy a high level of disposable income, and can afford to spend 25pc more than the average European. Ireland ranks sixth in affordability.
EU consumer chief John Dalli said: "I want to praise those member states which continue to invest in an environment where consumer watchdogs are trusted and disputes are swiftly resolved."