The Finnish Consumer Ombudsman is focusing increasingly on supervising consumer protection in online marketplaces. This year, the Consumer Ombudsman has taken a close look at cancellation terms of online auctions. In October, Honk.fi, an online auction service for second-hand cars committed to change its operating practices in the manner required by the Consumer Ombudsman. Discussions with Huutokaupat.com did not lead to a satisfactory solution.
At the start of the year, the Finnish Consumer Ombudsman demanded that Honk.fi should change its practices since it does not fully comply with the regulations governing marketing, contractual terms and distance selling.
In October, Honk Finland committed to comply with the demands of the Consumer Ombudsman under which consumers buying products at the service must always have the statutory right to cancel the purchase within 14 days unless the sale is a public auction referred to in the Finnish Consumer Protection Act. Honk.fi provides consumers with an opportunity to examine the items before the auction and to submit a bid at the seller’s premises. However, this is not in accordance with the genuine auction procedure where the seller does not need to offer the right to cancel the purchase. When the consumer has a statutory right to cancel the purchase, this right cannot be advertised as an additional benefit.
Similar problems reported at Huutokaupat.com
Similar problems have been reported at Huutokaupat.com, and the Finnish Consumer Ombudsman has been in contact with Mezzoforte, the company providing the service. Mezzoforte has committed to change the way in which it states the total price and to provide more detailed information on the consumer’s contractual partner in the service. No agreement concerning the right to cancel distance sale purchases was reached in the discussions with the company, so further steps will be taken.
Mezzoforte has said that it sells the items offered in Huutokaupat.com in auction events organized in its own premises. For this reason, the company is of the view that the consumer’s right to cancel the distance selling contract within 14 days does not apply. However, the Consumer Ombudsman has stated that the sales events arranged by Mezzoforte are not public auctions where it could deny consumers their statutory right to cancel the purchases.