15 August 2018
In our agency, much uncompromising work is done hidden from the public eye, through negotiations, with guidelines and in meetings. Often a problem is settled before spreading further, affecting a large numbers of consumers, Consumer Ombudsman Antti Neimala writes in his last editorial before starting as a Director General at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
Other topics of Finnish Consumer Ombudsman's Newsletter 4/2018 include:
- Inappropriate practices in Instagram marketing. The Consumer Ombudsman has admonished Laatukirurgia Finland Oy for its marketing on Instagram, where the company’s Silikonirinnat (silicone breasts) profile had liked pictures posted by minors and started following them on Instagram. The marketing of cosmetic surgery to minors is prohibited by the Consumer Protection Act.
- Fighting subscription traps in the 2010s. Consumer Ombudsman Antti Neimala met with Päivi Hentunen, the Consumer Ombudsman in 2011-2017, during the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Finnish Consumer Protection Act. In the 2010s, the Consumer Ombudsman fought against online subscription traps and instant loans, digitalised the processing of consumer reports and played a major role in the FCCA merger in 2013.
- Elisa changed its inaccurate marketing. Elisa Corporation marketed phone subscriptions and mobile broadband subscriptions as 5G subscriptions. The 5G network is not yet in general use and no 5G terminal devices are yet available for consumers in Finland. In actual fact the subscriptions run on 4G. The Consumer Ombudsman demanded that Elisa changes its 5G marketing and stops giving untruthful information about its products. Elisa has made the changes required by the Consumer Ombudsman in its marketing.
- Market Court prohibited XXL’s misleading advertising. In June 2018, the Finnish Market Court prohibited the sports equipment retailer XXL Sports & Outdoor Oy (XXL) from misleading consumers with its advertising by making unsubstantiated claims according to which the prices of its products are the most affordable. This latest injunction, which is the third one for XXL, is linked to a case in relation to which the Market Court had already in 2015 prohibited XXL from giving a misleading impression of the affordability of its prices.
- Changes in consumer credit legislation. The draft Government proposal on extending the interest rate cap of consumer credit has been circulating for comment during summer 2018. According to the proposal, the interest rate cap would be extended to include credit of at least 2,000 euros. The changes concern not only instant loan companies, but also other parties, such as banks. Housing loans would be partly excluded.
- Legislative reforms needed for the pricing of telephone-based customer services. Many companies use business-rate telephone numbers for customer services, and calls to these numbers are more expensive for consumers than normal telephone calls. However, the law requires companies to provide their customers with a so-called basic-rate telephone number for calls that relate to after-sales services or consumers’ existing contracts. The Consumer Ombudsman has concluded that Finland’s current laws do not protect consumers’ rights in the manner stipulated in the applicable EU Directive and has consequently asked the Ministry of Justice to review the regulations concerning basic-rate customer service numbers.
The previous newsletters are in the archive.
Newsletter 5/2018 will be published during Autumn.