17 September 2010
The Consumer Agency and the Association of House Suppliers (Pientaloteollisuus PTT ry) urge companies offering prefabricated house packages to supply their customers with comparable information about package contents. Not all companies have adopted the table drafted for the industry, which the customer could use to easily see the package content.
A consumer choosing a house package needs as clear, transparent and comparable information as possible about the different options to support his or her decision. To promote this objective, the Consumer Agency and the Association of House Suppliers published in the autumn of 2009 a guideline for the house package industry concerning marketing of house packages. At the same time, a table was adopted that includes the terms used to advertise house packages and their meanings. The purpose is that the delivery contents of a ‘Move-in’ house, for example, would be similar in all companies of the industry. Then, consumers would also have better possibilities to compare offers of different companies.
The Consumer Agency and the Association of House Suppliers have now monitored the use of the table for a year and have gathered feedback about it. The Consumer Agency has been concerned about the fact that not all companies of the industry have adopted the table.
“The objective of the table has expressly been to ensure legal protection of consumers. With the help of the table, the consumer can clearly see what each delivery contains and does not contain. This way, he or she can compare the scope and costs of offers,” says Lawyer Mika Hakamäki from the Consumer Agency.
The Association of House Suppliers has promised to invest in getting companies of the industry to start using the table more often. In addition, the Consumer Agency encourages consumers to ask for the table or an offer formulated in a similar comparable fashion. A company that does not agree to this and hence prevents the consumer’s possibilities to comparison does not necessarily operate fully openly otherwise either.
The Consumer Agency also warns consumers about relying too much on quotations provided by sales persons. According to information provided to the Agency, some house package suppliers have given quotations on behalf of other service providers without committing themselves to the quotation. In the worst case, nobody has taken responsibility for the accuracy of the quotation. In such case, it may have come as a total surprise to the customer by how much the final costs overran the original quotation. Consumers should demand that the quotation provider commit, in writing, to take responsibility for the accuracy of the information.
A consumer purchasing a house package must usually pay part of the price in advance. According to the Consumer Protection Act, the seller must set an advance payment security that secures the consumer’s money should the company delivering the house package lose its solvency before delivery. A separate guideline was prepared about advance payments and securities in 2007. It was drafted by the Consumer Agency and the Association of House Suppliers as well as by the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT.