Finnish authorities and other organisations campaign widely for safe online shopping. In recent years, consumer shopping at online shops located in distant lands has increased heavily, and Finnish Customs has filled up with small packages. At worst, these purchases can be “dangerous trash” according to the observations of the authorities. The campaign also wants to make consumers aware of their own responsibility: if you buy items directly from outside the EU, you are also responsible for the safety of the products.
The campaign aims to provide online shoppers with tools for choosing safer products online. Tips on what online shoppers should take into account when purchasing items have been collected on the campaign site, arranged by product group.
“Online shops also sell good and safe products. When consumers buy products from online shops all over the world, they need new kinds of skills and competence first and foremost. Consumers themselves must make sure that the product is safe and suitable for its purpose, and that importing it into Finland is legal,” says Tuiri Kerttula, Director of Product and Installations Surveillance at the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes).
The EU sets strict requirements on the safety of cosmetics, toys, health care equipment and electrical appliances, for example, as well as the substances contained by foodstuffs, medicines and chemicals. When consumers themselves buy products directly from outside the EU, these requirements may not be fulfilled. The authorities are aware of cases of a charger purchased from distant lands causing a violent fire, a food supplement containing a designer drug, cosmetics causing severe allergic reactions, and consumers purchasing chemicals, the sale and use of which is prohibited in the EU for safety reasons.
In addition to safety, the campaign also reminds people that unnecessary online purchases may also contain harmful chemicals that increase the load on the environment.
The actor Ville Myllyrinne is the face of the campaign. In the video spots, he plays a seller who sells food supplements to make testicles shrink and shrivel and mobile phone chargers to burn down houses. You are unlikely to see such a seller or offer in a brick-and-mortar shop. The spots starring Myllyrinne can be seen on the channels of the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle as societal advertising, as well as on the social media channels of the campaign participants. For social media channels, the campaign organisations have also created pictures with a sprinkling of dark humour that describe the worst-case scenarios the dangerous products may cause.
Participants in the campaign include the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, the European Consumer Centre Finland, the Finnish Commerce Federation, the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA), the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi), the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), the Finnish Cosmetic, Toiletry and Detergent Association, Finnish Customs, the Association of Products and Services Trade ETU, the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes), and the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA).