Consumer complaints related to travel and vehicles increased last year

Consumers contacted the Consumer Ombudsman or the consumer advisory services operating under local register offices more than 77,000 times in 2016. As in previous years, the commonest complaints concerned vehicles, housing, electronics and household appliances. Contacts related to vehicles and travel increased from the previous year.

Consumers contacted consumer advisory services operating under local register offices for information about their rights and sought advice for problem situations, or contacted the Consumer Ombudsman for a total of 77,779 times in 2016.

“The views of the consumer and the company do not always match. Consumer Advisory Service provides instructions, interpretations of the Consumer Protection Act and mediation in such situations,” says Consumer Rights Adviser Raija Marttala of the Local Register Office of Uusimaa.

In 2016, consumers contacted the Consumer Advisory Service in matters concerning, for example, vehicles, travel and online purchases. Contacts concerning vehicles increased by six per cent. Contacts about vehicle sales mainly concerned second-hand cars. The commonest complaint by consumers was about a fault or faults soon after the sale had been completed. Consumers do not always understand that old cars that can have hundreds of thousands of kilometres on the clock have natural wear and tear that dealerships cannot be held accountable for. When it comes to new cars, consumers ask about accessories, transport damage, delivery times etc.

Contacts related to travel increased by almost by eight percent. This is partly the result of a rise in the popularity of DIY travel. People who book their flights online do not always read the reservation terms carefully enough. Consumers who contacted the authorities were sometimes surprised that the ticket could not be altered or that making any changes was charged for. Many consumers also asked about their right to a standard compensation if their flight was delayed. Questions arose especially when the airline tried to avoid paying the standard compensation by referring to exceptional circumstances.

The bankruptcy of department store chain Anttila in July 2016 also showed in the number of consumer contacts. Consumers asked more questions about Anttila, NetAnttila and Kodin1 department stores in July than in the first half of the year put together. The commonest question was what they should do when they had already paid for their purchase online but never received the product because of the bankruptcy.

“You can order products in online stores safely, as long as you keep in mind a few basic matters regarding the method of payment, for example. Consumers who have paid with a credit card can also claim a refund from the credit card company if there are problems with the order,” says Consumer Rights Adviser Raija Marttala of the Local Register Office of Uusimaa.

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority supervises consumer advice provided by the local register offices. Consumer Advisory Services are a national service, providing information on consumer rights and obligations and offering mediation assistance in disputes between consumers and businesses. The nationwide Consumer Advisory Services are available on weekdays between 9 am and 3 pm by phone on +358 (0)29 505 3050 or by filling in the FCCA’s online contact form. The Complaint Assistant launched in late 2016 helps consumers make a written complaint that can be sent to the trader.

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