Distance Selling Theme Issue includes Consumer Ombudsman’s decisions on teleselling which continues to cause a lot of problems to Finnish consumers. In her editorial, the Consumer Ombudsman Päivi Hentunen writes about the recent bankruptcy of Finnish department store chain Anttila which reminded Finnish consumers about the difference between payment methods in online shopping.
The Finnish Consumer Ombudsman’s Newsletter 4/2016 features the following cases:
- Misleading telesales of natural products: The Consumer Ombudsman received several complaints concerning misleading telesales of vitamins and natural products. Consumers reported that a company called Nitrox Oy had sent them goods that they had not ordered, which is against the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act. Several of the complaints concerned telesales targeted at older people. The company had also marketed its products under the name “Finnish Pharmacy”, which had confused some consumers into thinking that the calls were coming from their own pharmacy.
- Sales calls started by questioning consumers: Finnacta Oy has been making sales calls for magazine subscriptions which consumers have been unable to identify as marketing and the contract terms of orders have not been explained with sufficient clarity. The calls began by informing consumers that they had answered an online survey and by asking them whether they would be willing to answer more questions. The consumers were also told that they had won a free cruise. In reality, the cruise was a welcome gift that consumers would receive if they subscribed to the magazine.
- Default setting in app stores: A default setting in Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system enabled consumers to buy products such as mobile games from an app store, by adding them to the consumer’s mobile telephone bill. However, consumers should have a genuine choice as to how they pay for their app store purchases and protect themselves from unwanted purchases. The default setting bypassed this. The special status of minors as mobile telephone users must also be taken into account. The Consumer Ombudsman’s position is in line with the common position adopted by the consumer protection authorities of EU Member States in 2014 on in-app purchases from Apple and Google.
- Confusing contract terms for magazine subscriptions: Calls from telesellers marketing a magazine to promote the end of bullying in schools have left consumers confused about the business behind the magazine, called K R Kustannus Oy. The telesellers failed to abide by the rules of distance selling and used confusing contractual terms. The company has revised its telemarketing practices and contract terms as instructed by the Consumer Ombudsman.
- Goods delivered without an order: Campus Group Oy marketed pet welfare products to consumers by telephone. Consumers had not been informed clearly about the cost of the order or about the length of the contract. Some consumers had been sent products, even though they have not placed an order. Consumers had also had difficulties in reaching Campus Group and cancel their orders.
- Column: A long-awaited end to telesales? Telesales are known to annoy consumers. No wonder: Telesellers’ calls come unexpectedly, and consumers are often persuaded by promises of gifts and other benefits to buy goods or services or to conclude a contract without the total cost, the length of the contract, or other essential information being clearly explained to them. Once the true nature of the contract is revealed, it is difficult to cancel. Could the much-awaited solution to these problems come from the EU, asks Deputy Director Katri Väänänen in her column.
Consumer Ombudsman’s Newsletter is published 6 times per year. You can find the previous issues here.