Complaints procedure at the European Consumer Centre
What kinds of matters does the European Consumer Centre deal with?
We answer questions about cross-border trade and help consumers to resolve disputes with traders based in other EU countries, Norway or Iceland.
For whom are the services of the European Consumer Centre intended?
Our services are for all EU citizens who have purchased goods from other EU countries, Norway or Iceland as consumers. This means that the goods or services purchased must have been for private consumption.
Does the European Consumer Centre charge for processing complaints?
The European Consumer Centre does not charge consumers for processing complaints.
I am having trouble using the complaints form. How can I get my complaint to the European Consumer Centre?
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on +358 29 553 9500 from Monday to Friday between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm.
How long does it take for complaints to be processed?
The average processing time for complaints is between three and four months provided that we can get in contact with the other party. Complaints take longer to process during holiday seasons.
How will I be kept informed of the progress of my complaint?
We will keep you informed of the progress of your complaint by email or telephone.
What documents does the European Consumer Centre need to process complaints?
The documents that are needed vary depending on the case, but we generally need copies of the order confirmation, payment receipt and your complaint to the trader and the trader’s response. In the case of complaints relating to flights, we also need copies of the airline tickets and the passenger complaint form. Never send the originals.
Can I come and visit the European Consumer Centre in person?
Yes, you can. Our address in Helsinki is Siltasaarenkatu 12 A, 8th floor. Please call beforehand to make an appointment.
Can the European Consumer Centre issue decisions that are legally enforceable against traders?
No. Our aim is always to find a compromise between the parties. We do this by liaising with our contacts in other EU Member States.
How soon after I file a complaint will the European Consumer Centre contact the trader?
We begin to process complaints within five working days of receipt. We often need to ask you for additional information. However, we do not generally contact the other party but try to deal with the matter through the ECC of the country in which the trader is based. A local lawyer will contact the trader if necessary. This approach is essential to the way we work and based on the guidelines issued by the European Commission, which co-finances the ECC network.
What are my other options for getting a refund?
If you paid by credit card, you can sometimes ask your credit card company for a refund under Chapter 7, Section 39 of the Consumer Protection Act. Typical scenarios that fall under the provision are cases where goods or services that you have ordered and paid for have not arrived or were defective on arrival and the trader has not responded to your complaint for one reason or another. The terms and conditions of most banks stipulate that similar refunds are also available for debit card payments.
How should I proceed if the European Consumer Centre cannot resolve the dispute?
Your only other real option is to take the matter to court. It is worth talking to our specialists first to find out whether you have a case and what you should take into account.
If you want a legally enforceable decision in the matter, you can begin a European Small Claims Procedure. The European Small Claims Procedure is available if your claim (excluding interest and costs) amounts to no more than EUR 5000. The procedure is inexpensive and relatively quick. Enforcing the decisions in practice, however, has proven problematic.
I placed a bet with a betting agency based in Malta that offers an online service in Finnish, but they refuse to pay me my bonus based on their terms and conditions. Can the European Consumer Centre help?
The European Consumer Centre cannot provide advice or help in cases that involve the provision of unlicensed gambling services to consumers in Finland. Betting and gambling are regulated by the Lotteries Act in Finland and require a licence. The licensing authority is the Finnish Government. The only gambling providers that are currently licensed in Finland are Veikkaus Oy (lotteries, pools and betting), Finland’s Slot Machine Association (slot machines, casinos and casino games) and Fintoto Oy (totalisator betting).
I bought a computer from the US and it turns out that it is defective. What can I do?
If you bought it online or you have access to the trader’s terms and conditions otherwise, consult the terms and conditions for any instructions on how to proceed in the event of a defect. Send a complaint to the trader as soon as possible and state how you want the defect to be rectified. If you paid by credit card, you can also ask your credit card company for a refund. You can also visit the website of the American Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org for the contact details of the trader’s local Better Business Bureau. The Finnish consumer protection system cannot help you in these circumstances. Disreputable traders can nevertheless be reported to the database of cross-border consumer complaints at www.eConsumer.gov.