In the summer of 2016, the Consumer Ombudsman drew attention to the way in which the use of data via TeliaSonera Oyj’s (Sonera) subscriptions while abroad was being marketed on television and the Sonera website. The subscriptions were advertised using slogans such as: “Use your telephone in the Nordic Countries and Baltic States without worrying about extra costs” or “You can use your telephone in the Nordic Countries and Baltic States as freely as at home".
In practice, however, unlimited use of Sonera subscriptions in the Nordic Countries and Baltic States was possible only if the customer did not exceed the fixed monthly data cap included in the subscription at his or her disposal. Once the data cap was reached, the subscription speed fell. The advertising made no mention of these restrictions.
Use of a subscription while abroad is part of the basic use of a data subscription, and any related limitations are essential information with regard to the consumer’s purchase decision. Sonera’s conduct was in violation of the Finnish Consumer Protection Act because the company had omitted essential information in its marketing, the lack of which would result in the consumer making a decision which he or she would not otherwise have made. Any information relating to a marketed product must be also provided for consumers in a clear and understandable manner. On the Sonera website, however, information on the use of subscriptions while abroad was dispersed across several web pages.
The Consumer Ombudsman required that Sonera undertake not to provide misleading or false information in its marketing on limitations affecting the use of its subscriptions while abroad, and to provide clear and understandable information on limitations affecting its subscriptions. In April 2017, Sonera committed to abiding by the Consumer Ombudsman’s requirements.