In 2019, the European Consumer Centre's Finnish office was contacted a total of 3,160 times by consumers. Approximately half of consumer contacts came by telephone and half via email and the web. In 2019, the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), which operates in 30 countries, was contacted a total of more than 120,000 times by consumers. Air travel and online shopping were the most common topics in relation to which consumers reached out to the network. The Commission steers the activities of the European Consumer Centres and uses the information it collects through complaints in the development of the EU’s consumer protection and when directing supervisory measures.
In 2019, the majority of consumers that contacted the European Consumer Centre in Finland had questions concerning a company based in another EU country, in Norway, Iceland or Great Britain or their rights different cases of cross-border trade or travel.
- Of the just over 3,000 contacts made in 2019, 2,421 included questions concerning, in particular, online purchases, such as the right to cancel online purchases, defective products and undelivered products. In addition to online buying, passenger rights in the event of flight delays and cancellations was a common issue that consumers asked about.
- Consumers have, on the basis of the advice and instructions we provided, continued to independently work on resolving their issues with the company or consumers were instructed to turn to their national competent supervisory authority.
- Examined by country, the largest number of consumer contacts concerned companies from our neighbouring countries, such as those in Germany, Sweden, Norway and Estonia. Air travel and online shopping were also the most common topics in these. In addition to online shops and airlines, contacts concerning Swedish and German companies included a wide range of question on car sales, while in Estonia’s case purchase traps were a common topic.
- In 2019, around 200 contacts by consumers concerned topics outside the jurisdiction of the European Consumer Centre meaning actors outside the EU area, such as various airlines, Chinese online shops or Swiss ticket sales company Viagogo, of which authorities from many different countries have also warned the Finnish Consumer Ombudsman. When companies are located outside our area of operations, we are only able provide general advice to consumers, but we cannot provide actual assistance with mediation.
In Finland, the European Consumer Centre is part of the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority. The total number of contacts by consumers decreased somewhat in Finland compared to 2018 (3,400), which is partly due to the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority’s single window model for consumer advisory services, which allows consumers to get instructions on the initial steps they must take in some cross-border cases directly from the FCCA consumer advisory services and the consumer does not always need to turn to the European Consumer Centre for assistance.
Just over 700 complaints to mediation – Romania exceptionally prevalent in statistics
In 2019, the European Consumer Centre took up 739 appeals that had progressed to mediation. In cases of mediation, we look for a resolution together with the European Consumer Centre in the country where the company is based, meaning we share the complaint mediation with our colleagues in another EU Member State, Norway, Iceland or Great Britain.
- Around a quarter of the complaints lodged for mediation concerned air travel, in particular compensation for delays and cancellations. With regard to online purchases, undelivered and defective products are also often the reason for complaints.
- About one third of the cases that progressed to mediation in 2019 ended in a settlement. Consumers do not always notify the European Consumer Centre on whether they have received compensation, due to reasons such as the long processing times of airlines, meaning that some settlements may not be included in statistics.
- If a resolution cannot be reached, we advise consumers on how to get help where possible from an alternative arbitration body, or we recommend that they contact the competent national supervisory body.
- Last year, Finland’s European Consumer Centre shared the largest number of actual complaints for mediation with Romania (138 cases), which is exceptional. We usually receive very few complaints concerning Romanian companies. In 2019, the next largest number of complaints were forwarded for investigation to Germany and Latvia.
- The spike in complaints on Romania was due to the cancellation of a concert that Snoop Dogg had scheduled for July in Helsinki, which was organised by Romanian company Phoenix Entertainment Agency SRL. Complaints were related to the company not refunding consumers for their tickets. We transferred the complaints to our Romanian office for mediation. The Romanian office in cooperation with the local consumer authority actively tried to reach the representatives of Phoenix Entertainment without success throughout summer 2019. For this reason, the investigation of this case was handed over to the Romanian police.
- Consumers who paid for their tickets with a credit card, as a rule, were refunded their money through their credit card provider when the company could not be reached. However, some consumers are still awaiting the results of the police investigation.
- We would like to remind you once again that the payment of online purchases such as flights and concert tickets with a credit card is advisable, because if problems arise, you can be in direct contact with your credit card provider i.e. your bank to get a refund, if the company from whom you’ve made the purchase cannot be reached and you cannot get your money refunded in that manner. A credit card payment also provides protection in the event a company from which you’ve bought services or goods goes bankrupt.
In 2019, Finland’s offices received 57 complaints on Finnish companies for mediation from European Consumer Offices in other countries. The largest number of appeals by far concerned travel, in particular, air travel, which accounted for half the cases that were sent to Finland for mediation,
This bulletin was published in the European Consumer Centre’s Newsletter 1/2020.
Read more on our website:
Checklist for online purchases
Rights of Airline Passengers
Calculator for checking the rights of airline passengers
Tips for buying a used car in Sweden