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In these cases, the Conciliation Board received thousands of complaints

Last year, the Budapest Conciliation Board, which handles half of the national cases, made a decision with a case value of more than one billion forints.

Illustration: 123rf.com

The settlement of legal disputes by a conciliation body can benefit both the consumer and the service provider – this is clear from last year’s statistics of the Budapest Conciliation Board (BBT), operated by the Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BKIK). Last year, the board received 10 percent more cases than the previous year, and three-quarters of the cases to be judged were concluded with the satisfaction of both parties. The majority of consumer complaints are still related to services, which include complaints about solar systems as a new addition.

In 2023, the BBT received 4,654 cases, of which a decision was made in 4,531 cases – this means an increase in the number of cases of almost 10 percent compared to 2022. At the national level, the BBT handled half of the consumer complaints received by conciliation bodies and made decisions with a case value of more than HUF one billion.

Compared to the previous year, in 2023 the number of cases ending with a settlement increased significantly (by about 400 cases). There was also a strong tendency for businesses to improve their willingness to cooperate, as part of which, in many cases, following the initiation of the conciliation board procedure, the business fulfilled the legitimate consumer demand almost immediately. It is a recognition of the professional authority of the Budapest Conciliation Board that the companies participating in the proceedings pay considerable attention to the completeness of the documents they submit.

The Board’s substantive procedures were as effective as in previous years, and businesses are increasingly realizing that it is more expedient and economical to settle legal disputes against consumers outside of court, within the framework of the conciliation procedure. The goal is still to settle these cases free of charge, quickly and efficiently, with the agreement of the parties. A significant change from this year is that the conciliation bodies can now make binding decisions on businesses if the request is well-founded and the consumer’s claim does not exceed HUF 200,000. This could lead to further strengthening of consumer protection

said dr. √Čva Inzelt, president of the Budapest Conciliation Board.

Most complaints (57 percent of complaints) are still related to services. In 2023, many people also complained about postal and telecommunications services, as well as utility service providers, most of which were related to the interpretation and correction of invoicing.

Continuing the trends of the previous years, the number of compensation claims against airlines increased, especially due to flight cancellations and delays. New among the cases brought before the BBT are objections related to solar panel systems: for example, with the conclusion of contracts, delays in construction, inadequate construction, lack of inverters or complaints related to the billing of produced electricity.

In cases involving the construction industry, for example window replacement or air conditioning installation, consumers often find themselves in a difficult situation because, in the absence of a written agreement, they cannot prove the contents of their application.

Among the product-related complaints (43 percent of all cases), warranty claims related to products purchased online of inadequate quality, used cars, and consumer claims due to hidden defects were also common. Cases where the company operating the online store is unknown and the consumer did not act with reasonable care when ordering from the given online interface can still be considered typical.

From January 1, 2024, the conciliation bodies can make binding decisions under a value limit of HUF 200,000, equivalent to court rulings – if the consumer’s request is well-founded – even if the given businesses have not submitted a declaration of submission. There is no possibility of appeal against the decision of the conciliation board, but the Court can be asked to set it aside.

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