8 May 2012
The statistics of the European Consumer Centre Network from January–April 2012 show that French and British consumers are the most active to file complaints in problems related to European cross-border trade. On the other hand, every fourth dispute in January–April in the network as a whole related to a purchase made from Germany.
In January–April, the most disputes pertaining to cross-border trade arose among French consumers (424 disputes), then among British (305), Austrian (251), Belgian (226) and Dutch consumers (130). Among a total of 29 countries, Finns were in the ninth position (98 disputes).
Consumers’ disputes related to cross-border trade are resolved and arbitrated in the seller’s home country under the operational framework of the European Consumer Centre Network. Most incoming complaints do not develop into actual disputes, but can be settled through counselling, which means that the consumer receives advice for the further processing of his or her matter.
In addition to Germany, European consumers complain most about purchases made from the United Kingdom, Spain, France and the Netherlands.
Online shopping and air travelling are top topics in Finland
The Finnish office of the European Consumer Centre Network was contacted 660 times by consumers in January–April 2012. Of these complaints, 472 have been processed.
The problems of Finnish consumers related to cross-border trade concern online shopping – a paid product has not been delivered, it does not meet the agreed requirements or it was damaged in transport – or air travelling, such as delayed or cancelled flights.
After online commerce and air travelling, the third most common cause of complaints in the Finnish office this year have been cases where consumers have unknowingly ordered products. In most cases, these complaints have concerned a Danish company called Formlife, which advertises diet-related trial packages on Facebook, for example.
“The free offers on Facebook should be avoided.A free offer often turns out to be a trap that insidiously binds a consumer to making more expensive follow-up orders. Such traps also often involve the fact that problems cannot be settled in Finnish, even if all the advertisement material was in Finnish,” says Director Leena Lindström of the European Consumer Centre.
If a consumer has ordered a “free” trial package, it is advised that the order be immediately cancelled to avoid graver problems – and to do so in writing. Emailing is the best option, as sent messages can be saved and stored for possible further needs.
Few Finnish companies included in complaint statistics
During the first year-third, the Finnish office of the European Consumer Centre Network has only received five complaints related to Finnish companies from elsewhere in the EU area. Like in previous years, most complaints arriving in Finland have pertained to cancelled or delayed flights. Finland is at the bottom the complaint list together with Iceland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Slovakia.
European Consumer Centre, Finland
Director Leena Lindström