Companies should view consumer-friendly, well implemented and lawful marketing as a competitive advantage.It pays to provide comprehensive information on the product or service and on the contracting party, to listen to the customer's needs, to provide adequate time to consider offers and to discuss the contract terms thoroughly. Customers will be left with a good impression of the company even if they do not purchase at that time, writes Consumer Ombudsman Antti Neimala in his editorial.
Finnish Consumer Ombudsman's Newsletter 3/2018 includes the following:
- Aggressive door-to-door selling intervened. The number of consumer complaints related to door-to-door selling has increased over the last few years, in particular in relation to renovation and repair services. Many of the complaints concern aggressive practices, often targeted at elderly consumers, such as sales presentations that last for hours, with the salesperson refusing to leave the consumer’s home. The Consumer Ombudsman has been clarifying door-to-door selling practices with five companies and required that they correct their practices.
- Several problems with additional warranty. Verkkokauppa.com advertised a three-year additional warranty for computers, tablets, televisions and cameras. The Consumer Ombudsman’s view is that consumers receive no additional benefit when, after a product has been used for two years, 50% of the returned product’s purchase price is mechanically deducted. In addition, compensating the purchase price to the consumer by giving a gift card instead of cash or a credit card refund was also violating the law.
- Towards openness and cooperation in the 2000s. Marita Wilska became the Consumer Ombudsman in 2003, in the aftermath of the merger of the Finnish Consumer Agency and the Consumer Ombudsman’s office. Her long and versatile employment history in the area of consumer protection and a different approach to leadership proved to be valuable resources. Consumer Ombudsman Antti Neimala met Marita Wilska during the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Finnish consumer ombudsman institution.
- Consumers must be informed of the actual contracting partner. The Supersaver car rental site, which is maintained and marketed by Oy SRG Finland AB, did not make it clear that the consumer makes a car rental contract with Rentalcars.com and not SRG. Information on the contracting partner is deemed essential information to the consumer. Especially in the case of complaints it is important that the consumer is clearly informed of the party with which he/she made the contract.
- Guidelines for marketing of eyeglasses. In addition to the furniture and sports equipment sectors, the optical industry is one of the sectors that generate the most complaints to consumer protection authorities. The Consumer Ombudsman and optical industry have joined forces to update the industry’s marketing guidelines, with the objectives of increasing the transparency of marketing with regard to, e.g. the contents and limitations of glasses offered.
- Strengthening the consumers’ position. The European Commission is proceeding purposefully with the improvements in consumer protection after having reports and impact assessments prepared regarding the effectiveness and implementation of consumer directives. It is great that consumer protection is being developed, consumers will be better able to use their rights and the Commission is communicating the importance of consumer protection legislation. In addition to consumers, effective enforcement will benefit law-abiding companies, writes Director Anja Peltonen in her article about Commission's New Deal for Consumers.
Previous newsletters are in the Archive.
The next Finnish Consumer Ombudsman's Newsletter (4/2018) will be published in August 2018.