The Finnish Consumer Ombudsman has asked the police to investigate whether the operations of Xellim Oü and Offlion International Ltd as well as Funlime / Vertivas Ltd, which have resulted in hundreds of complaints, satisfy the statutory definition of a marketing offence under the Finnish Criminal Code. Both companies have misled consumers online and tied them into subscription contracts. Funlime marketed its mobile content services also to minors.
The theme is covered in Finnish Consumer Ombudsman's Newsletter 5/2014. Other topics include:
- Consumers’ confidence is critical to the functioning of the market and economic growth, Consumer Ombudsman points out in her editorial. Instead of looking for legal loopholes and satisfying minimum requirements, businesses should turn exemplary compliance with consumer protection regulations into a competitive advantage.
- Consumer Ombudsman helped a consumer in court to get a full, over EUR 30,000 refund for a second-hand motorhome found defective (extensive damp damage) within the meaning of the Consumer Protection Act. Originally the seller company refused to return the sale price even after the Consumer Disputes Board recommendation to cancel the contract.
- Basic rules of marketing: Advertisements must not look like bills. Incorporating bills or other demands for payment into marketing mailshots always amounts to unfair marketing from the point of view of consumers. Bills must also not be sent for contract renewals or supplementary orders without prior agreement.
- The Consumer Ombudsman has urged Suomen Energiayhtiö to revise its problematic electricity telemarketing practices.
- Bottle recycling machines in Lidl grocery stores in Finland offered consumers a chance to enter a prize draw organised by Parpa Oy. Consumers were surprised to discover that entering the prize draw meant that they were not entitled to the money from their recycled bottles. Consumers were also confused as to what the money had been used for and what they could have won in the prize draw.
Current Issues in Consumer Law is the Finnish Consumer Ombudsman's online newsletter for all those who want to keep up to date with the latest developments in consumer law and consumer policy.
Next issue is published in December/January and it is a financial services theme issue (covering topics such as billing practices, quick loans and debt collection).
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