The Consumer Ombudsman has drawn its attention on Elisa Corporation’s marketing of 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 Corporation changes its 5G marketing and stops giving untruthful information about its products. Elisa committed to make the changes required by the Consumer Ombudsman in its marketing.
Elisa has since late spring been marketing Saunalahti Huoleton 5G Ready and Saunalahti Huoleton 5G phone subscriptions and Saunalahti Mobiililaajakaista 5G Ready and Saunalahti Mobiililaajakaista 5G mobile broadband subscriptions. When taking issue with this matter in May, the Consumer Ombudsman pointed out that the products were presented in the marketing as 5G subscriptions.
Marketing must be truthful – 5G subscriptions are not available yet
The Consumer Ombudsman required that Elisa change its marketing so that the subscription names or advertising texts do not present the subscriptions as 5G subscriptions. In future, Elisa will emphasise, as required by the Consumer Ombudsman, that the subscriptions’ work as 4G subscriptions until the 5G network is generally available for Elisa customers.
According to the Consumer Protection Act, marketing may not give untruthful information if this is liable to make consumers make purchase decisions they would not otherwise make. Untruthful information may concern, for example, the product’s existence, availability or main characteristics. Elisa’s marketing presented the subscriptions as 5G, although the 5G network is not yet in use or unavailable for consumer subscriptions. In actual fact the subscriptions will operate in a 4G network until the 5G network will be generally available for Elisa customers. Another aspect is that there are no 5G devices available that could make use of 5G features.
Elisa has a radio licence granted by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority for testing 5G technology. However, nationwide construction of a 5G network is only beginning once the actual operating licences have been granted by the Government, which is estimated to take place in autumn 2018. This means that the network may be available during 2019. Indeed, many device manufacturers are only developing their 5G products at the moment. In practice, consumers will not benefit from the 5G network and their 5G subscriptions until the 2020s.
If consumers feel that they have been misled by Elisa’s 5G marketing owing to false information, they can file a complaint with Elisa, demanding that the contract be cancelled, with the previous contract restored and the price difference refunded. Elisa will deal with refund claims case by case. The subscriptions are valid until further notice, meaning that consumers may also terminate the contract.
The Consumer Ombudsman negotiated with Elisa about 5G marketing in July 2018, and Elisa committed to make the changes required by the Consumer Ombudsman, and has already communicated about this to its customers.