Increased consumer complaints on travel and electricity

The Consumer Advisory Service has helped more than 37,000 consumers this year.  Compared to previous years, increasingly many consumers contact the service on matters related to travel and electricity services. Meanwhile, complaints on electronic devices have taken a downward turn. The Consumer Ombudsman has also negotiated electricity- and travel-related consumer problems with various companies.

The Consumer Advisory Services operating in Local Register Offices helped 37,509 customers in January–June 2016. As in the previous years, most complaints are made about vehicles, housing and renovations, but increasingly many also concern electricity services and travel.

In these six months, the number of complaints related to electricity has almost reached the overall number of similar complaints made in 2015. One of the potential causes of this are the electricity company Caruna’s plans to increase electricity transmission rates. Many consumers contacted the Consumer Advisory Service early in the year about changes to pricing and contract terms. The Consumer Ombudsman entered into negotiations with Caruna, and the resulting solution was relevant to all of Caruna’s clients.

The Consumer Advisory Service has also been contacted about other players in the electricity sector. Consumers have been irritated by issues such as groundless or unclear invoices. Many consumers have also had problems due to Kotimaan Energia Oy’s electricity telesales. They have felt that the information provided on the phone was unclear or misleading.

Travel-related complaints have increased – within a period of six months, the service has been contacted about Finnair and Norwegian more often than the total figure for 2015. The most common grounds for complaints have been delayed flights and compensation for them. The Consumer Ombudsman has negotiated these issues, among others, with Finnair. The negotiations are still ongoing.

Consumers’ claims for compensation vary greatly depending on the company and the sector involved. On average, they demand EUR 600 in compensation from flight operators and EUR 120 from electricity companies. Their claims are significantly higher in cases related to housing, vehicles and renovations. Housing-related claims for compensation are EUR 1,000 on average.

Consumers are not always clear on what consumer authority – the Consumer Ombudsman, Consumer Advisory Services or the Consumer Disputes Board – they should contact about different issues. That is why consumer authorities have developed a nationwide operating model based on the one-stop-shop principle. Consumers do not need to know which authority they require and instead can call national Consumer Advisory Services (tel. +358 29 505 3050) between 9.00 am and 3.00 pm on weekdays or fill in a contact form (in Finnish) on the website of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. The authorities ensure that the consumer’s enquiry is forwarded to the right place.

Read more:
Instructions for consumersKuluttajaneuvonta.fi
Consumer Advisory Services on Facebook

The responsibilities and supervisory methods of the Consumer Ombudsman

The number of contacts from consumers and the most common topics in the first half of 2016 (statistics in Finnish)

Further information: Tero Heinonen, Senior Planning Officer, tel. +358 29 505 3118