Due to the growing economic importance of the service sector, the European Commission is looking at  eliminating obstacles to the freedom of movement for service providers and at promoting the free exchange of services between Member States. In this context, the Commission is increasingly promoting the use of standardisation in the services field. European standards and industry charters are explicitly mentioned in the Directive on Services in the Internal Market (2006/123/EC) and in the European Standardisation Regulation (EU) 1025/2012.

As standards gain more importance in the service sector, the need for an overarching legal framework becomes more pressing. Such a framework exists for products (e.g. General Product Safety Directive and Product Liability Directive) and ANEC believes it should also be developed for services safety, quality and liability.

Work Areas:

1) Horizontal service issues

The lack of an overarching European legal framework for service safety and liability is critical to consumers. The basis of ANEC’s work, both influencing developments in service standardisation and calling for a EU legal framework, can be found in ANEC ‘s research on service standardisation and related minimum consumer requirements carried out in 2007 and the resulting position on service standardisation. This research examined the European regulatory framework for services and showed that the core consumer elements to be addressed in service standards include:

  • customer satisfaction
  • complaints handling and redress procedures
  • information provision
  • service safety
  • personnel competence,
  • contracts and billing
  • accessibility.

Considering that service sectors differ greatly in nature, ANEC does not consider it feasible to develop a horizontal service standard to cover all issues and sectors. Instead, the core elements should be used as a ‘blueprint’ for service standards to ensure a consistent approach across sectors throughout Europe.

ANEC participates in the CEN Strategic Advisory Group on Services (SAGS) to ensure key consumer concerns are addressed in political and strategic discussions related to service standardisation,. The strategy covers leading trends and challenges affecting the services sector;. It also intends to provide a typology of service standards and criteria to identify sectors with potential for service standardisation.

The work in SAGS, focuses on the European Commission’s two-stage standardisation mandate (M/517) for the development of a series of standards addressing horizontal aspects of services. The first deliverable was an analysis of the feasibility of standards addressing horizontal aspects of services.

The second phase of M/517 - the development of a series of standards capable of flexible application across a wide range of services, is now dealt with by CEN TC 447.  The TC is currently developing standards on service procurement, contracts and performance assessment.

In line with these activities, ANEC also nominated a representative to the ISO COPOLCO Working Group 18 on Services. The group is responsible both for coordinating generic services initiatives and maintaining ISO/IEC Guide 76 ‘Development of service standards – Recommendations for addressing consumer issues’.

2) Health, Care and Support Services

Certain private healthcare services are of primary concern to consumers as these services often come with significant risks. The safety aspects include the competence of personnel, the hygiene of the premises and equipment, and information provision at all stages of the service.

Since 2012, the ANEC Project Team on Health, Care and Support Services operates in conjunction with the horizontal ANEC Services WG to develop positions on health, care and support services, and to provide expertise to our representatives dealing with standardisation activities in this area. Considering CEN is increasingly addressing health care related issues in European standards, ANEC has ensured the consumer voice is heard on relevant standardisation activities.

At a horizontal level, ANEC has participated in stakeholders’ discussions in CEN regarding the development of a CEN strategy in the healthcare services area.  

The sectoral activities in which ANEC is involved in the healthcare and wellbeing services area range from aesthetic surgical and non-surgical care, to social care services.

Aesthetic services

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the quality and safety of care services, such as those provided by aesthetic surgery service providers, or wellbeing services provided in beauty salons or solaria. Aesthetic surgery and non-surgical aesthetic services are particularly sensitive issues. ANEC represented the consumer voice in CEN TC 403 ‘Aesthetic Surgery and aesthetic non-surgical medical services’, in TC 409 ‘Beauty Salon services’, and TC 412 ‘Indoor UV exposure’.

With the aesthetic services market increasing in Europe, and the number of services offered cross-border rising, the need for a regulatory framework and common standards becomes more urgent in ensuring the safety and quality of services.

Social care and support services

Other health-related services, of particular importance to the elderly, include residential care services and services related to technical aids. Building on the experience of activities in CEN TC 385, which developed CEN TS 16118 ‘Sheltered housing – Requirements for services for older people provided in a sheltered housing scheme’, in 2013, ANEC issued a study on ‘Models of special accommodation for older people across Europe’. Although the first standards activities in TC 385 proved complex, CEN TC 449 ‘Quality of care for elderly people in ordinary or residential care facilities’ and TC 450 ‘Minimum requirements of patient involvement in person-centred care’ are now addressing the quality of these services in a comprehensive manner, with the patient and consumer at the heart of their work.

ANEC participates in CEN TC 431 ‘Service Chain for Social Care Alarms’. We expect the results to focus on consumers, aiming to give them an improved level of quality of life by enabling them to stay longer in their own homes and remain independent.

ANEC also follows standardisation related to ‘funeral services’ in CEN TC 448.

3) Tourism, Sports, and Leisure Services

services big

Due to the increasing mobility of consumers, and the potential severity of injuries suffered during the provision of these services, the safety and quality of tourism services are of importance to consumers. This is especially true for the more vulnerable groups such as children or the elderly. Services such as hotel accommodation, diving and skiing, extreme sports and adventure holidays often entail significant cross-border and safety aspects.

ANEC conducted a study on European cross-border travel and tourism - Learning from consumer experiences and complaints (published in January 2014) that explored consumer complaints on problems occurring when using EU cross-border tourism services. The areas examined were car rentals, accommodation, and travel by plane, train and boat. ANEC leaflet: Key Facts on European cross-border complaints provides an overview of the findings. Following the results of this study, the ANEC Services WG developed the ANEC position paper: How can we make travel in the EU better for consumers?. From the consumer viewpoint, the European and international standards work has so far concentrated on peripheral areas of tourism services and it has therefore fallen to ANEC to press for more consumer-relevant standardisation. 

In 2018, a new representative was appointed to ISO TC 228 ‘Tourism and related areas’ WG 2 ‘Health Tourism’. Thanks to the work of WG 2, in November 2018, the international standard ISO 21426:2018 Tourism and related services -- Medical spas -- Service requirements was published.

ANEC also started working in ISO TC 228 WG 15 ‘Accommodation’. The new ISO TC 228 WG 15 on ‘Accommodation’ has approved a work item that aims to standardise the minimum quality requirements for service provision to be achieved by hotels, regardless of the size of the hotel or its star classification.

Accessible Tourism

Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors worldwide. However, for many people, especially vulnerable persons with special needs, travelling is often challenging as they face barriers in many travel destinations. ANEC Services WG therefore collaborates with the Accessibility WG on accessible tourism and nominated an expert to ISO TC 228 WG 14 'Accessible tourism', to work on an International Standard on ‘Accessible Tourism for All’ to set guidelines for tourism planning and destination management.

Fitness Centres

Since 2013, ANEC has participated in standardisation activities in CEN TC 136 WG 2 on Fitness centres, as this topic tackles various issues relevant for the European consumer, such as limited diversity of requirements and cross-border aspects.

(Fire) Safety of Accommodation services

Hotel (fire) safety is an issue which many consumers take for granted when travelling, expecting a similar standard of safety from one country to another. This may not always be the case as studies have shown. In particular, the evacuation of guests with disabilities from hotels in case of fire is not guaranteed everywhere. One of the priorities of the ANEC Services WG is to obtain a European legislation on hotel fire safety that would rely on technical standards, while providing guidance to all types of hotels in the prevention of fires and safety management. ANEC welcomed that the EC was considering a revision of the recommendation 86/666 on fire safety in existing hotels, and participated in the discussions with stakeholders. Unfortunately, there has been no political will under the Juncker Commission for further European action in the area.

ANEC continues collaborating with other stakeholders campaigning for the setting up of a pan-European accident database as a first minimum step in the area. ANEC also participated in CEN CENELEC TC 4 PC ‘Services for fire safety and security systems’, in light of the importance of the training of installers and maintenance services in the area of (fire) safety equipment. ANEC welcomed the publication of the related standard in 2016.

4) Services of General Interest (SGIs)

With the increasing liberalisation of services of broad interest, such as postal services, ensuring high protection to consumers becomes more important. Many SGIs play an essential role in the quality of life of citizens and attention should be paid to ensure that such services, despite the requirement of affordability, do not lead to a decrease in the quality, accessibility or safety of the service.

Postal services

ANEC is active in the standardisation of postal services in CEN TC 331 ‘Postal services’, its WG 1 on ‘Quality of Services’ and WG 5 on revision of EN 13724 ‘Apertures of letter boxes & letter plates’. European standards related to postal services underpin Directive 2008/06/EC on Postal Services. ANEC believes quality-of-service-levels in the postal sector should be measured in a comparable way across companies and countries. This includes damages and complaints procedures. We are also concerned that the need for new parcel-boxes caused by the explosive growth of internet-trade will not be met with a supply of standardised boxes at affordable prices.

The Commission’s mandate M/428 reflects five ANEC proposals for possible new standards on quality of postal services, and requests that close cooperation with customers is ensured. ANEC welcomed these developments and the launch of related standardisation activities in 2013.

In May 2016, as part of the European Digital Single Market and Single Market strategies, the EC published a plan to boost e-commerce by tackling geo-blocking, making cross-border parcel delivery more affordable and efficient, and promoting customer trust through better protection and enforcement. In 2017, ANEC published its position paper on the proposal for a Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services with a view to share consumer recommendations with the European Parliament. In April 2018, the Council and the European Parliament eventually adopted the regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services to boost e-commerce and make it easier for consumers to compare different delivery prices across the EU.

Keep me posted EU campaign

keep me posted campaign

The ‘Keep me posted EU campaign’ promotes the citizen’s right to choose how to receive information such as tax forms, election documents, bills and statements from service providers without disadvantage. It is a pro-choice campaign, wanting to promote inclusion of vulnerable consumers at European level. The campaign is inspired by the UK campaign, ‘Keep Me Posted UK’, and is directed towards the European Institutions. ANEC is a supporter.

Cross-border online services

connected world

The consumer survey carried out for the ANEC Services WG in 2013 showed service aspects other than the evident tourism and travel-related services to cause detriment to consumers.

In 2015, ANEC commissioned the Technical Study, ‘Cross - Border Online  Shopping Within The EU: Learning from Consumer Experiences’ to collect data on practical examples of consumer complaints in the consumer services area. The objective was to provide ANEC representatives in Technical Committees (TCs) related to services standardisation with practical examples.

In May 2016, as part of the European Digital Single Market and Single Market strategies, the European Commission published a plan to boost e-commerce by tackling geo-blocking, making cross-border parcel delivery more affordable and efficient and promoting customer trust through better protection and enforcement. In 2016, further to the public consultation on the regulatory environment for platforms and the collaborative economy to which ANEC also contributed, the Commission issued a Communication on online platforms and the Digital Single Market. This was underpinned by a Staff Working Document on online platforms and the Digital Single Market, formulating the policy approach to online platforms and identifying areas where action or further assessment may be necessary.

In light of ANEC/Consumers International (CI) collaboration in ISO TC 290 ‘Online Reputation’ and its WG 1 ‘online consumer reviews’, ANEC/CI contributed to the EU debate on online platforms in the statement, Cross border e-commerce - How international standards can help transparency of online platforms to raise awareness on the standards under development. In June 2018, ISO published the new standard ISO 20488 ‘Online consumer reviews -- Principles and requirements for their collection, moderation and publication’. It aims to improve the management of review websites and reduce the frequency of “fake reviews”. ANEC helped draft the standard and believes its use will allow consumers to compare products and services with greater confidence.

ANEC developed with Consumers International a common position paper on Sharing Economy and is participating in the work of ISO COPOLCO TG 5 on ‘Sharing Economy’.

ANEC also continues monitoring the policy developments in the area of sharing Economy that result from the EC Guidance and policy recommendations for the collaborative economy and any standardisation related activity.

Customer contact centres (call centres)

ANEC participated in the development of EN 15838:2009 on ‘customer contact centre quality’ and supported its adoption. Nevertheless, we were concerned by the focus of the standard on setting requirements for the contract, and the relationship between the customer contact centre and the contracting company. We therefore participated in ISO work that led to the adoption of ISO 18295:2017 which has now superseded EN 15838 at European level.

Financial services

Although the ANEC Financial Services PT has been dormant for several years, attention to the developments related to payments in the single market is drawn from our research activities carried out on consumer complaints in the travel area and on online shopping.

ANEC monitors policy developments in the area through BEUC, Consumers International (CI) and ISO COPOLCO. We lobbied for adoption of ISO 12812 ‘Core banking – mobile financial services’, published in 2017.

ANEC participates in the European Payments Council (EPC) Scheme End User Forum (SEUF). The EPC represents payment service providers, and aims at supporting and promoting European payments integration and development, notably the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

The Services WG supports the work done by the Accessibility and Digital Society WGs in Pay-able, a “Platform for a better payment experience: accessible POS terminals for all”.

Activities in the European & international standards bodies:

ANEC is represented in:

  • ‘CEN Strategic Advisory Group on Services’ (SAGS)
  • CEN TC 136 ‘Sports, playground and other recreational facilities and equipment’ WG 2 'Fitness centres'
  • CEN TC 331 ‘Postal Services’ WG 1 ‘Quality of postal services’, WG 5 Equipment of end receivers
  • CEN TC 329 ‘Tourism services’
  • CEN TC 409 ‘Beauty Salon Services’
  • CEN TC 431 'Service Chain for Social Care Alarms' WG 2 ‘Services model development’
  • CEN TC 445 ‘Business Processes in the Insurance Industry’
  • CEN TC 447 ‘Services - Procurement, contracts and performance assessment
  • CEN TC 448 ‘Funeral services’
  • CEN TC 431 ‘Service chain for social alarms’
  • CEN TC 449 ‘Quality of care for elderly people in ordinary or residential care facilities’
  • CEN/TC 450 ‘Minimum requirements of patient involvement in person-centred care’
  • CEN Healthcare Services Focus Group
  • ISO TC 228 ‘Tourism and related services’, WG 2 ‘Health tourism services’, WG 14 'Accessible tourism', WG 15 ‘Accommodation’
  • ISO TC 290 'Online reputation' and its WG1 'Online reviews'
  • ISO COPOLCO WG 18 ‘Services’
  • ISO COPOLCO TG 5 ‘Sharing Economy’
  • European Payments Council Scheme End-User Forum
  • ISO PC 311 ‘Vulnerable consumers’

ANEC will follow new activities of importance to consumers in these bodies where we were previously active:

  • CEN-CENELEC TC 4 ‘Services for fire safety and security systems’
  • CEN TC 412 PC ‘Indoor sun exposure services’
  • CEN Workshop 68 ‘Quality criteria health checks’ 
  • ISO PC 273 ‘Customer contact centres services’
  • ISO TC 92 ‘Fire Safety’ WG 8 ‘Fire terms and definitions’
  • CEN TC 403 PC ‘Aesthetic Surgery and aesthetic non-surgical medical services’

ANEC monitors consumer issues in CEN TC 445 ‘Digital information Interchange in the Insurance Industry’, set up to work on standards in the field of electronic business processes.

News

ISO 20488 on Online Reviews will enhance consumers trust

NL 6 04

Online reviews are often the first port of call for consumers and the internet is full of websites dedicated to the evaluation of everything, from restaurants to accountants. It has been shown that reviews impact 67 % of purchasing decisions.

In June 2018, ISO published the new standard ISO 20488 ‘Online consumer reviews -- Principles and requirements for their collection, moderation and publication’. It aims to improve the management of review websites and reduce the frequency of “fake reviews”. ANEC helped draft the standard and believes its use will allow consumers to compare products and services with greater confidence.

Developments in the postal sector

In September 2018, ANEC joined the EC workshop, 'Delivering for the future II: Developments in the postal sector'. WIK Consult presented the interim findings of a study on developments in the cross-border e-commerce parcel delivery market, including the results of a consumer survey. First indications are that consumers’ cross border and national e-commerce purchases focus on fashion and electronics. Home delivery is the preferred delivery option. In a comparison of national and cross-border delivery services, consumers rated national services slightly better than cross-border. During the workshop the Commission gave an update on the implementation of the Regulation on Cross-border Parcel Delivery Services, adopted in April 2018. (Regulation (EU) 2018/644). More information.

ISO 21426 on Medical Spas

There is an increasing number of consumers around the world who choose health tourism services with the desire of escaping from the stress and rush of urban life, or of receiving healthcare abroad. Hence, it is necessary to identify the different products and services which can be offered in order to avoid confusion.

Thanks to the work of ISO TC 228 WG 2 ‘Health tourism services’, a new standard was published in November 2018. ISO 21426 Tourism and related services — Medical spas — Service requirements will focus on the quality services at medical spas, considering their natural healing waters and their proven therapeutic and preventive benefits for health.

ANEC is actively participating in the work of ISO TC 228 ‘Tourism and related services’, which so far has published 28 standards. 

Publications

 To access position papers related to Services please click the link, Position papers.