Without the consent of a guardian, minors may only make ordinary, minor purchases considered typical for children. The online and mobile worlds do not form an exception to this principle.
Although under the terms of the subscription contract the parent is responsible for expenses associated with the child's use of the mobile phone, operators or companies that offer services through mobile phones cannot shirk their responsibilities by invoking the parents' role as the responsible party. When the amount of compensation is determined, it matters if, for example, children have been enticed to use mobile services or buy products through websites reaching children or TV programmes that interest them.
If unwanted purchases have been made, you can take the following steps:
- Check which company is charging you from the credit card or mobile phone bill. In most cases, the child will be able to tell you what games he or she has played or what services he or she has purchased.
- Contact the firm that is billing you to achieve a possible settlement. State that the bill was run up by a minor who did not understand the fee-based nature of gaming and that you neither authorised nor were aware of the purchases.
If contacting the company proves unsuccessful, consumers are also entitled to present their claims to the credit card company or the operator, who has a joint responsibility with the service provider to clarify problem situations.
- If the payment has been charged to a credit card, you can also complain to the credit card company that made the payment.
- If the payment has been charged in connection with a subscription bill, you can also complain to the operator that charged the payment.
To make the resolution of possible disputes easier, we recommend that all complaints be filed in writing. In addition to the instructions on our website, you can use the Complaint Assistant or our complaint forms.
Filing a complaint
Be aware that you will not be reimbursed in full if what happened was due, at least in part, to your own carelessness. If you make no headway with the case, you can consult
- The Consumer Advisory Service, which provides information on consumer rights, and mediation assistance in disputes between consumers and businesses.
- The European Consumer Centre, which assists consumers with problems related to cross-border trade in cases where a product has been purchased or ordered from outside Finland and from another EU Member State, Norway or Iceland.
Avoid problems: guide your child
Children should always be guided and instructed on the use of devices and various media. Guide your child in using the Internet and mobile phones. Agree on rules. Also instruct your child to recognise what is his or her personal information, and how to protect it online and avoid revealing it.
It is worth remembering that, nowadays, many mobile device and game console games purchased for, and popular among, children include additional features subject to a charge.
Avoid unpleasant financial surprises by means of the following methods:
- Discuss the risks and threats related to using services and games that include extra charges. Inform your child about fee-based features of the game and agree on rules, including that the child must always ask permission from a parent before making purchases. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Free product samples, cheap test batches or brand items sold for a single euro are often a hidden way of leading you into a longer and more expensive subscription – if the product is delivered at all, that is.
- Be aware that, in most cases, your credit card details are stored when you purchase a game and may be available to your child.
- Prevent the use of your credit card or mobile subscription by adjusting the settings of your device or your subscription and by following the instructions provided by the game seller. For example, you can set a password in the game account to authorise purchases, or use the barring functions provided by operators in your child’s mobile phone subscription. Most game vendors and telephone operators also have sites providing guidelines for parents, so please familiarise yourself with these.
- Familiarise yourself with the terms of the contract and features of the game, and check to see what will happen if you try to make in-game purchases.
- You can also use a variety of prepaid cards and prepaid telephone subscriptions, which you can buy from outlets such as kiosks and gaming stores. These place an advance limit on the amount that may be spent on game purchases
Liability for defects (services)
Telephone and broadband subscriptions
Online shopping (European Consumer Centre Finland)