In 2005 the Finnish Consumer Agency developed the SAVA system, which bundles reports according to subject, as a basic market surveillance tool. In 2005 and 2006 a total of 2,400 reports were handled through the system and 24 briefings or guidelines were prepared in specific areas or subjects.
The SAVA system is used to handle market surveillance in areas that are not included in annual focuses.
Reports typically concern special offers and sales, price labelling, the use of additional benefits and prize drawings in marketing, contract terms in distance selling and the seller's responsibility for lack of conformity - in other words the basic rules of consumer trade. In these matters rules protecting consumers have already been established, but attention must repeatedly be drawn to these rules and up-to-date information concerning them must be produced for businesses and consumers.
The Consumer Agency passes on information in reports to branch organizations and together with these plans training and information activities for businesses. The goal is to get businesses to show responsibility and comply with the law.
The effectiveness of work is monitored in different fields and subjects. This means keeping statistics and analysing data regarding the effects of briefings, seminars, cooperation projects and negotiations in different fields on problems encountered in marketing. The Consumer Agency can also monitor specific businesses if they repeatedly break the law in spite of reprimands.
The Consumer Agency also uses the SAVA system to keep in touch with key business organizations such as the Association of Everyday Commodities Wholesalers and the Federation of Finnish Enterprises. Each year it selects particular fields on which it wishes to concentrate.
This year the Consumer Agency has held meetings with four branch organizations, arranged three training sessions, prepared six briefings or guidelines, prepared a series of articles for a magazine in the furniture field, distributed information at travel fairs and sent timely feedback and materials on four subjects.
Consumers' awareness of basic rules and timely matters is improved by producing information and placing it online, for example in the form of frequently asked questions or press releases, and by developing claim forms that consumers can use to contact businesses. The SAVA system also provides ideas for articles in Kuluttaja magazine and consumer education materials in schools.
Aims and methods
In addition to ensuring compliance with legislation, market surveillance also strives to strengthen consumers' position in society. Depending on the matter the Consumer Agency uses different means to maximize effectiveness. It sets priorities in a systematic way with regard to the selection of topics, the intervention threshold and procedures.
Consumer Law Division: impulses and means