Changes to phone sales: consumers must be sent written offer after call
The Consumer Ombudsman provides guidance for businesses conducting phone sales on the written confirmation procedure. It became mandatory at the start of this year. It means that after a sales call, the seller must send the consumer a separate written offer.
The written confirmation procedure for phone sales became mandatory at the start of this year. It means that after a sales call, the seller must send the consumer a separate written offer. The offer may be made by email, for example, or another verifiable method.
If the consumer does not accept the offer, no contract is formed.
“The purpose of the confirmation procedure is to reduce problem situations in which a consumer does not realize a sales call means they’ve entered into a contract, or where crucial parts of the contract are not clear to them,” Sanna Lempiäinen, a specialist at Suomen Yrittäjät, the Finnish SME association, says.
The regulation is particularly intended to protect consumers who are vulnerable or in a weaker position than other consumers.
“These include people with dementia or consumers with reduced capacity to understand the explanation of a contract by phone due to an illness or their age, for example.”
Who makes first contact and when decisive
The confirmation mechanism is not mandatory if the seller has contacted the consumer on the consumer’s explicit request. Because the request must be explicit, it is not enough for the consumer to have given the company consent to marketing phone calls, for example, when taking part in an online competition or otherwise interacting with the company.
Nor is the confirmation mechanism mandatory if the consumer has contacted the seller on their own initiative.
The confirmation mechanism must be used in situations where the consumer calls the seller back after the seller has first called the consumer. The Consumer Ombudsman says by way of guidance that this is because this is not a case of the consumer contacting the seller on their own initiative.
The confirmation mechanism does not extend to electronic communication services, such as phone sales of phone and internet contracts. The confirmation mechanism does not apply in contracts between companies, either.
The Consumer Ombudsman’s guidelines help companies solve problems observed on the market. They explain the impact of the new legislation and/or practice on the businesses’ operations.
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