With nearly 44,000 families paying the €70 annual membership fee, the Union luxembourgeoise des consommateurs (ULC) says its mission is to protect, defend and inform. It offers assistance and advice on consumer disputes, as well as expertise in construction and taxation.
In 2020, its litigation and information service handled 5,310 cases, 2.25% more than in 2019. 27% of these disputes concerned housing and almost 20% concerned building and construction. In recent months, the association has taken a stand on subjects as wide-ranging as the CO2 tax, but also inflation.
"In the 60 years of its existence, we have seen consumption evolve towards more intermediaries in the chain, but also the development of digitalisation and cross-border disputes," says Aline Rosenbaum, head of the ULC's litigation department.
A solid trade union base
The origins of the ULC date back to 4 December 1961. At that time, the consumer association was created following a protest demonstration organised by the inter-union action committee. This trade union attachment is still perceptible today, since the ULC counts among its associate members some ten organisations, including ALEBA, the CGFP, the LCGB and the OGBL.
This trade union attachment explains the attention we pay to the issue of consumer purchasing power.
In addition to individual members, the trade unions are represented on the ULC's board of directors and management committee. For example, president Nico Hoffmann is from the LCGB, while treasurer Guy Fettes represents the OGBL.
"This union attachment explains the attention we pay to the issue of consumer purchasing power as well as the quality aspects of products and services," says Rosenbaum.
The consumer support landscape has also expanded over the years: the European Consumer Centre, which specialises in cross-border disputes now complements the ULC. Various ombudsmen have emerged, such as the ILR, but also the Consumer Ombudsman, for example.
"The ULC's mission is broader and more proactive: mediators are a neutral intermediary who try to help both parties find a solution in a dispute. If the ULC believes that the consumer is in the right and has been wronged, it clearly takes their side and offers support,” stresses Rosenbaum.
The ULC is also carrying out a consumer information mission which will be stepped up in the near future, particularly for young people who are now being exposed at an increasingly early age to contract and subscription formulas, particularly those offered via mobile applications.
"There is a lot of educational work to be done in this area. At the ULC, we know that prevention is very useful so that the consumer is informed before he or she enters active life," explains Rosenbaum.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.