Kotimaan Energia Oy marketed new electricity supply contracts to consumers by phone. At the start of the sales call, the company referred to the consumer’s electricity supply contract with the local electricity company. At the same time, the salesperson mentioned a price adjustment or a reduction in the price paid by the consumer for electricity. Many consumers had received the impression that the call concerned their current electricity supply contract and a reduction in its price.
The Consumer Ombudsman ordered Kotimaan Energia to revise their telesales practices. The company was reminded that, in telephone sales, the traders must begin their call by stating their name and the commercial purpose of their call. The company for which the salesperson is selling electricity to the consumer must be indicated so clearly that the consumer understands that the call concerns a new electricity supply contract offered by Kotimaan Energia.
There were also repeated telemarketing cases where consumers reported having received the impression from the sales call that the salesperson was only sending them an offer, and no binding agreement was made over the phone. The Consumer Ombudsman stipulated that the company’s marketing should make it clear that in telesales, the agreement is made between the parties over the phone and that the salesperson will confirm the content of the agreement by sending a contract confirmation to the consumer.
The Consumer Ombudsman also drew attention to the claims of low or reduced prices made to consumers in Kotimaa Energia’s marketing. Consumers were promised that their electricity prices would fall by 10–20 per cent, for example. In order to use such discount claims in marketing, the trader must be able to reliably prove that the claims are truthful as pertains to the consumers at whom the marketing is targeted.
In some cases, Kotimaa Energia’s telemarketing had targeted consumers who did not have an electricity supply contract in their own name for the location in question, but a valid contract had been made by their spouse, for example. The company was reminded that an electricity supply contract is personal; only the consumer who has signed the contract for a specific location has the right to manage the contract or choose to terminate it. No other person canterminate the contract on behalf of the consumer without their authorisation.
Kotimaan Energia announced that the company had already partly changed its sales practices to meet the Consumer Ombudsman’s requirements and that salespersons had been provided with training to communicate more clearly. In situations where the electricity supply contract is in another person’s name, the company is to revise its practices to ensure that switching suppliers does not take place without authorisation or consent from the contract holder.