Gozo Channel’s unresponsiveness

One thing that distinguishes firms is their customer care.  This shortcoming is found in all sectors of the economy.  However, those firms which are in the public sector are more prone to such shortcomings.  This is in spite of the efforts that are being made to make public sector firms more responsive to customer complaints.  Some time ago, we mentioned ARMS Ltd where it is virtually impossible for someone to get a proper answer to his/her queries.

Today, we are including Gozo Channel where in spite of several emails to the firm to answer a query, remained unanswered.  The Association received a complaint from a family whose son travelled to Gozo with a group of friends.  He was charged €2.30 for a small bottle of water (500ml) while on the trip last April.

The family of the concerned consumer wrote 3 times but received no response.  The Association wrote to the firm several times on 14th and 30th June and 22nd August 2017, but again we did not receive any reply to our query.

Consumers should be weary when buying from the canteen of Gozo Channel ships as we had also reports that consumers are rarely given receipts even though a receipt is issued from the till.  The problem when not given a receipt is that one would not be in a position to see if they are overcharged or not.

Beware: Citadel’s Travel Insurance Hidden Limitations

It’s the travel season and most of us are careful and  buy travel insurance to cover any mishaps that may happen whilst on holiday  However, though we read the insurance cover, few of us realise that in some instances the cover paid for is extremely limited  or worse because of hidden limitations.

In our website we had already highlighted  two instances where the interpretation of the insurance companies was restrictive and seriously changes the nature of the cover provided.  In yet another  more recent complaint about travel insurance it resulted  that there was nothing in the information provided to  indicate  to the consumer that the travel insurance covered only the first leg of the journey.  Thus if one was travelling to a place where the journey is not one direct flight, only the first leg is covered.  The same applies if someone travels to a place to take a cruise, the insurance covers only the first leg, namely  if anything happens and as a result you miss your cruise, you are not covered.

Absurd, unbelievable but regrettably  true.  This is the section of a policy issued by Citadel Insurance which covers Cancellation and Curtailment.  If one goes through it, there is no indication of this limitation.

A consumer went for a holiday in the States.  Part of the trip included a cruise.  While in the States, days before taking the flight to catch the cruise, she got sick.  The doctor who examined her recommended that she should not take the cruise.  When she returned back home, she made a claim to the insurance.  The claim was turned down on the basis  that

‘Cancellation means cancellation of a journey by the insured person(s) before leaving their Country of Residence, due to illness etc.  Before the journey actually commences.’

We examined the policy to try to find this definition.  Yet we could not find any such definition in the information that was given to the consumer.  We asked Citadel to indicate where one can find this definition in the policy.  They could not indicate where as it is not part of the policy.  We thus maintained that the insurance should pay the consumer compensation.  Yet Citadel refused as they are claiming that their interpretation is correct.

Our position is clear:  This interpretation severely limits the policy.  Since the consumer was not informed beforehand of this interpretation, this limit should not apply.

Our question is thisWhy are consumers not given the definition of cancellation?  Is it possible that if consumers are aware of this limitation they would not have taken the policy?  BEWARE.

BEWARE of these traders:

Beware of these traders mentioned in the Public Warning Statements issued by MCCAA.


This year the Director General of the Consumer Affairs Directorate published 4 public warning statements all in connection with traders failing to honour the Consumer Affairs Tribunal decision.  The following are the traders against whom the Public Warning statements were issued:

Gianluca Ciprini of IGC Group Ltd:   The trader had promised to deliver, from Poland, a folding door which was supposed to be with three openings, double glazed and with a mosquito net installed , for which a deposit of 1, 400 euros was paid. However, the consumer noticed that it was actually made in Malta, had 4 openings instead of 3 and a mosquito net could not be fixed to this door; thus, not as ordered by the consumer. The trader was ordered by the Tribunal to pay the sum of 1, 000 euros to the consumer

Vincent Agius of Agius Photo Studio of Paola:   The consumer had ordered a package including photos, album, pre wedding and post –wedding sessions, two smaller albums and the wedding DVD. The photos were never delivered as they were not ready yet.  Trader was ordered by the Tribunal to pay the sum of 1, 300 euros.

Franz Camilleri (472061M):   The consumer had engaged the trader to carry out works on her Maltese timbered balcony, paying him the sum of 450 euros. The said works were never carried out.

Alucare Mosta Ltd :   The consumer had ordered aluminium work from the company, but it turned out to be faulty due to rainwater seepage. The Tribunal ordered the company to pay the consumer three hundred (300) euros.

The Directorate for Consume Affairs within the MCCAA has recently issued a Public Warning statement against a trader who failed to honour the Consumer Affairs Tribunal decision.

The Consumer Affairs Act empowers the Director General to issue a Public Warning Statement identifying and giving information in relation to:

  • goods or services that are unsatisfactory or dangerous and the persons supplying the said goods or services;
  • trading practices detrimental to the interest of consumers and persons who engage in such practices;
  • and any other matter that adversely affects or may adversely affect the interests of consumers in  connection with the acquisition by them of goods or services from traders.

One thing that we noticed is that it is the second Public Warning Statement issued by the Directorate responsible for consumer Affairs regarding Agius Photo Studio of Paola.  The first one was issued last year.  It shows that as we had been saying all along, the setting up of the Consumer Claims Tribunal on its own is not enough.  Harsher measures for those who believe they are above the law need to be introduced.

Would you buy from a trader who thinks he is above law and thus does not recognize your rights as a consumer?!


MBL Garage Door Solutions – Problem Solved

We received a complaint from a consumer regarding a garage door he bought from MBL Garage Door Solutions.  The garage door was bought in March 2016.  After some weeks, the garage door motor developed a defect.  The consumer contacted MBL who agreed to replace the garage door motor.  However, to date, in spite of many calls to the trader during the last five months, the door motor has not been replaced.

The Consumers’ Association contacted MBL twice through email.  However, to date we still have not been sent an answer to our emails.

We believe that this is not the customer service that consumers expect.  As the consumer had his rights denied to him through no response, we advised the consumer to take his complaint to the Consumer Claims Tribunal for a decision.


18 April 2017


On the 5th May we were informed by the consumer that the complaint has been solved as MBL Garage Door Solutions replaced the door motor in question.

Be Careful! Internet connected toys

Christmas is near and most have already started buying presents.  These when directed at children are usually toys and the latest most advanced are usually the most attractive and the first choice.

This year internet connected toys were introduced on the European Market and though locally, as far as we know, are not available they can be obtained online.   Recently, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) examined three toys Hello Barbie, My Friend Cayla and i-Que.  The first two are dolls and are directed at girls while the third is a robot directed at boys.

In its analysis at the terms and the technical features NCC found that there is a serious lack of understanding of children’s rights to privacy and security.

The toys fail at several points

In their review of the toys, the Consumer Council has found several serious issues:

  1. Lack of safety
    With simple steps, anyone can take control of the toys through a mobile phone. This makes it possible to talk and listen through the toy without having physical access to the toy. This lack of safety could easily have been prevented, for example by making physical access to the toy required, or by requiring the user to press a button when pairing their phone with the toy.


  1. Illegal user terms
    Before using the toy, users must consent to the terms being changed without notice, that personal data can be used for targeted advertising, and that information may be shared with unnamed 3rd parties. This and other discoveries are, in the NCC’s opinion, in breach of the EU Unfair Contract Terms Directive, the EU Data Protection Directive and the Toy Safety Directive.
  1. Kids’ secrets are shared
    Anything the child tells the doll is transferred to the U.S.-based company Nuance Communications, who specialize in speech recognition technologies. The company reserves the right to share this information with other third parties, and to use speech data for a wide variety of purposes.
  2. Kids are subject to hidden marketing
    The toys are embedded with pre-programmed phrases, where they endorse different commercial products. For example, Cayla will happily talk about how much she loves different Disney movies. Meanwhile, the app-provider has a commercial relationship with Disney.

Consumer tips

  1. If you do not want the toy, check if the shop accepts returns. You can cancel the purchase within 14 days if you bought the toy online.
  1. Not happy with the toy? Let the shop and the producer know what you think. This might prevent toys with similar shortcomings from entering the market.
  1. Talk to your child about what the toy is and what it can do, and what it means that the toy is connected to the Internet.
  1. Check how the toy responds to questions. The toys come with many pre-programmed phrases, but can also get answers from Wikipedia.
  1. Remember to turn off the toy when not in use, so you have control over who connects to the toy.

You may view the video about the risks of internet connected toys HERE.

The following are the two reports published by the Norwegian Consumer Council.



BEWARE: When buying a second hand car – check, recheck and check again

{nl}{nl}{nl}second_hand_car.jpg  BEWARE:  When buying a second hand car – check,{nl}recheck and check again

Lately, we had a number of complaints involving second hand{nl}cars.  Consumers who bought these found{nl}that the cars they bought were defective and soon after they got them needed{nl}extensive repairs. 


Consumers need to be careful especially when buying from{nl}individuals.  Here are some points you{nl}need to be careful of:


If you’re buying from a private individual, Consumer laws,{nl}which may provide certain protection, do not apply;


If you’re buying from a dealer, then these laws apply;


Always have a contract of sale drawn up.  This will show you who the real owner{nl}is.  You may still be buying a car from a{nl}dealer on behalf of someone else.  In{nl}this case, since the owner is not the dealer you are not protected by Consumer{nl}Affairs legislation though you still have your rights on civil grounds. 


If you ask for an inspection ask for a full service report{nl}as the company may provide different levels of inspection.  Always ask for a written report;


If you’re buying a car which has been imported, check{nl}carefully the documents.  Check{nl}especially the mileage documents.  We had{nl}several instances where the mileage instruments and documents were tampered{nl}with;

Ask for a very recent VRT certificate.

BEWARE: Agius Photo Studio, Poala – the numbers increase


Agius_phot_studio_paola.jpg Beware:  Agius Photo Studios Paola  the numbers increase

Since last time we received two other complaints – one regarding another wedding occasion and the regarding a simple Holy Communion photo.  The first has been waiting for another two years while the other had been waiting for about one and a half years for just one photo!  Incredible but true.

A consumer contracted Agius Photo Studios Paola to have a photographic record of her wedding.  She was married in July 2011.  Three years later, this consumer is still waiting for her wedding photograhs in spite of her numerable attempts and broken promises that the photos and video will be soon delivered to her. 

We were contacted by the consumer this year.  We sent several letters to Agius Photo Studios Paola but have not received any response from his side.

Some days ago we received a similar complaint from another consumer who after 2 years is still waiting for her wedding photos!!!

BEWARE:  If you want to rest assured of having your wedding photos, use a reliable photographer.

Metal Liquid Membrane … A Case Of Bad Workmanship


The Association has recently received a number of complaints from consumers after they claimed to have been ripped off following an offer received through various leaflets (click here to see the various leaflets used up to now) which have been distributed to households.

Consumers are offered a discounted price, a 15 or 30 year guarantee and claiming to have years of experience. Initially the individual (or individuals) do project themselves as professionals and pretend to have an extremely busy schedule.

In one case a consumer was given a 30 year guarantee but there are no company details on the “certificate” so there is no traceability.  In another case the consumer, after having paid, never received the receipt and guarantee (if it is of any value – click here to see a typical guarantee provided to us by a consumer).

Most important, in reported cases, when it rained consumers reported that water still leaked from the roof or else did not complete the work as agreed.

Another characteristic is that when consumers become aware of what happened it is useless trying to contact this individual (or individuals) afterwards as it will be impossible to get them back to fix the roof.  These individuals (or individual) feign to either forget, confuse places or else disassociate themselves from each other.

From the various leaflets it seems that this individual/these individuals use various contacts, such as: :mgwaterproofing2011@hotmail.com and charliewie@hotmail.co.uk

They also use a variety of mobile numbers such as 79832609; 79832575; 99583339

Consumers also passed on to us a number of decisions issued by the Consumer Claims Tribunal.  You may read through them below (they provide some interesting reading):

Case Number Date Decision Published Parties
CCT 507/09 July 2010 Ivan Abela vs Marphil Gauci
CCT 562/09 July 2010 Simon and Ruth Cassar vs Charlot k/a Carmel Gauci and Marphil Gauci
CCT 212/10 November 2010 Suzanne Vella vs Marphil Gauci
The Consumers’ Association has written to the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority on the 27th November 2011 and 2nd December 2011 to verify whether the above three decisions have been honoured by the defendants, that is, if the consumers concerned got their money back.  Up to now the Authority has not provided any reply.  However, the Association managed to get in touch with Ms Suzanne Vella who confirmed that to date, she did not get her money back despite the Tribunal’s decision.

Consumers who fell victim to this are encouraged to approach the Association

Guarantee Offered:

Tribunal Decisions:


Fantasy Tours


The Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority last week issued a warning as per Article 8 of the Consumer Affairs Act on Fantasy Tours, a travel agency which, it said, was offering an “unsatisfactory” service.

A warning is issued by the consumer watchdog when a specific trader provides goods or services that are unsatisfactory or dangerous.

Such a statement is also issued when trading practices are detrimental to the interest of consumers and hence may adversely affect us when we acquire goods or services from traders.

The Office for Consumer Affairs within the MCCAA felt the need to issue the warning against Fantasy Tours because, after looking into the practices of the company, it was determined that it was engaging in trading practices that were detrimental to consumers.

In particular, Fantasy Tours failed to honour 12 decisions of the Consumer Claims Tribunal that were issued in favour of consumers against the company. Furthermore, since 2008, there were 150 complaints registered with the Complaints and Conciliation Directorate against Fantasy Tours or Golden Travel Club Ltd.

vide MCCAA public warning statement here:


Cellefonic’s catch exposed



 Cellefonic.jpgIf{nl}it’s too good to be true, usually it is! {nl}A consumer brought to our attention a Cellefonic advert in The Voucher{nl}Issue 81.  This advert was offering a series of mobile phones at very advantageous prices.  However, these could only be obtained once{nl}the consumer enters into a two-year contract paying €15 per month.  Otherwise, one has to pay a much higher{nl}price.  {nl}{nl}



We{nl}phoned to confirm this.  As an example we{nl}took we asked about Samsung S5830 whose price was indicated €100.  However, you can only take it if you enter{nl}into the above mentioned two-year contract. {nl}Otherwise one pays a hefty €175! {nl}When asked why the difference as there was nothing indicated in the{nl}advert, we were informed that there is a sign “*pm 15”. 




On{nl}inspecting again the advert there was no explanation of the asterisk.  Thus a normal consumer can easily take this{nl}to mean that one can pay by instalments of €15 monthly.




This{nl}is nothing but a misleading advertisement which is giving partial information{nl}to consumers and lure them to the shop. 




We{nl}wrote to Cellefonic to inform them that their advert is nothing but a bait{nl}advertisement.  We also wrote to ‘The{nl}Voucher’ management informing them of this misleading advert.  We informed them of their responsibility both{nl}to inform consumers correctly and also of their responsibility towards other{nl}businesses who advertise in the magazine as their reputation can easily be{nl}tarnished due to the fact that they are advertising in a magazine with{nl}misleading advertisement.




Finally,{nl}we also wrote to the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority to take{nl}the necessary action.