Prices are not indicated clearly, misleading information is provided concerning products, consumers' rights are restricted in contract terms. These problems are constantly encountered in connection with different goods and services.
The Finnish Consumer Agency spends a lot of time on basic surveillance work, which ensures that businesses comply with the requirements in the Consumer Protection Act. It repeatedly has to go over basic matters with newcomers and also firms that have operated for a long time.
Price is one of the most important criteria when consumers decide whether to buy a product. Consequently legislation contains provisions designed to ensure that businesses indicate the prices of goods and services clearly and understandably in all marketing as well as in shops and windows.
Prices have not always been indicated clearly in the marketing of kitchen fittings or tours, for example. In the case of kitchen fittings websites sometimes fail to give prices, and these are not always available in shops either, according to consumers' reports.
In the marketing of tours the problem has been additional charges. Consumers are not able to purchase a trip for the advertised price but have to pay different surcharges. Ads do not always provide clear information about restrictions on special offers, either.
The goal of the marketing provisions in the Consumer Protection Act is to ensure that consumers receive correct information that is essential for decision-making and can compare different products on this basis. Advertising should give a truthful overall impression at first glance.
There is a difference between creating a certain kind of image in marketing and making concrete claims about a product. Advertising can be spiced up, but factual claims must be truthful, whether these concern digital receivers, cosmetics or whatever. If a customer has to pay to get a product, this cannot be described as free. Nor is advice free if a customer must call a premium-rate number.
Consumers are often in a weaker position than businesses. This is especially visible if a business has drawn up unfair contract terms.
The Consumer Agency has intervened in contract terms concerning additional insurance for appliances, according to which the customer must pay for insurance before receiving the product. As a rule the seller remains liable for any defect in a product until it has been delivered to the consumer.
Instead of complaining to individual firms, the Consumer Agency increasingly bundles reports and sends them to branch associations. Good examples are the Finnish Travel Association (tours), the Finnish Cosmetic, Toiletry and Detergent Association (cosmetics) and the Finnish Furniture and Joinery Industry (kitchen fittings).