Supervision of consumer protection during the pandemic

The spread of the coronavirus has affected the standing of consumers in a scope that was unprecedented and in an unforeseeable manner all over the world, especially in the travel industry.

2020 is marked by a global corona pandemic. Most of the corona-related contacts received by the Consumer Advisory Services and the Consumer Ombudsman during this year have been related to travel.

This article summarises the issues, from the perspective of tourism, that have been addressed this year under the supervision of the Consumer Ombudsman. You can either read a brief overview or each press release related to the topic.

Tour operators must comply with the Consumer Protection Act, also in exceptional situations

Last spring some tour operators announced that, in the exceptional situation caused by the coronavirus, customers who have cancelled travel packages will not be refunded. When the crisis started, the Consumer Ombudsman pointed out that the coronavirus does not give businesses a license to ignore legislation.

“Travellers cannot be expected to carry the financial risk in this unusual situation”, said Consumer Ombudsman Katri Väänänen in March.

Movement restrictions in Uusimaa: what did the restrictions mean for consumers?

In Finland there were restrictions on movement from Uusimaa to other parts of the country and vice versa in order to combat coronavirus. The consumer rights advisors of the FCCA answered consumer protection questions related to these movement restrictions.

Travel restrictions were alleviated in June

On 15 June, the Finnish government mitigated the corona-related travel restrictions. The Consumer Ombudsman reminded that cost-free cancellation no longer applicable to all countries starting from 15 June.

Consumer Ombudsman to tour operators: refunds must be made to customers in weeks, not months

During the corona pandemic, the Consumer Ombudsman examined the activities of key tour operators. There were shortcomings in customer service and the timetables for refunds. Travel organisers stretched the limits of the law in refunds, as their refund periods had been drawn out for even months. “Refunds must be made to customers in weeks, not months”, stated Consumer Ombudsman Katri Väänänen in the FCCA’s press release.

Got questions about coronavirus and travelling? Answers to frequently asked questions

The corona situation raised many questions and concerned among consumers. The FCCA closely monitored the situation and consumer right advisors answered to the most common questions received by Consumer Advisory Services.