Director of Consumer Division of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority serves as the Consumer Ombudsman.
The Consumer Ombudsman’s primary duty is to safeguard the position of consumers and supervise compliance with the Consumer Protection Act and other laws on consumer protection. Key tasks include supervising the lawfulness of the marketing activities, contractual terms and payment collection of traders in business operations aimed at consumers. The aim is to stop businesses engaging in unlawful practices.
The Consumer Ombudsman’s supervisory activity is collective by nature: The Consumer Ombudsman does not usually handle individual disputes where the consumer is seeking reimbursement for an error with a product or service. In these cases, consumers are assisted by the Consumer Advisory Services, the European Consumer Centre and the Consumer Disputes Board.
However, the Consumer Ombudsman may, at its discretion, assist a consumer in resolving an individual dispute, if its resolution carries a significant impact on the interpretation of the law and the general interest of consumers, or in instances where a business is not compliant with the recommendations of the Consumer Disputes Board.
The Consumer Ombudsman also aims to improve the position of consumers by making proposals and initiatives to amend legislation.
How does the Consumer Ombudsman work?
The Consumer Ombudsman and Consumer Advisory Services receive tens of thousands of reports and enquiries each year. All of them are reviewed and filed in the FCCA information system. The Consumer Ombudsman uses the information received to select targets for supervision.
Anyone can report unlawful practices to the Consumer Ombudsman. Reports can also be made anonymously.
The Consumer Ombudsman may also intervene in issues that come to its attention through its own monitoring. The Consumer Ombudsman selects matters for supervision based on its prioritisation principles.
The Consumer Ombudsman has a duty to negotiate. It means that the Consumer Ombudsman must seek to persuade the business to cease its unlawful practice through negotiation in the first instance. Most matters are resolved through negotiation without further action.
The Consumer Ombudsman’s supervision measures consist of investigative powers and sanctions:
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In addition to the supervision measures, the Consumer Ombudsman can also use certain other tools such as policies and guidelines to steer businesses in lawful practices. The aim of these tools is to encourage entrepreneurs to pay attention to the principles of consumer protection and their application in the company’s operations.
Follow the activities of the Consumer Ombudsman
The Consumer Ombudsman communicates about its activities through various channels including press releases, decisions and guidance documents. In addition, the Consumer Ombudsman publishes its own blog and newsletter.