Power, transportation and a place to live are the three most essential things, besides food, that people need to meet their most basic needs.
Unfortunately, issues with these were the most common reasons households in Norway contacted the consumer rights watchdog, the Norwegian Consumer Council last year.
While the number of people lodging inquiries over second-hand cars and problems with renting remained relatively stable compared to previous years, the number of people who had issues with their energy agreements increased by over 70 percent.
“Electricity sellers violate consumers’ rights and push and trick customers into paying too much for electricity. Not surprisingly, this creates many angry and despairing consumers,” Inger Lise Blyverket, director of the Norwegian Consumer Council, said in a report.
“In the past year, we have seen electricity customers being thrown out of agreements with fixed prices and price caps, sky-high demands for advance payment, variable customers with shock bills and companies that embezzle the customers’ right of withdrawal. In addition, there are challenges with telephone and door sales, electricity invoices and the compensation scheme,” she added.
The director of the consumer rights watchdog said tighter regulations and the withdrawal of providers’ licences when they routinely break the rules would be one solution for cutting down on issues.
The consumer council’s guidance service received some 52,000 thousand complaints last year. Problems with used cars accounted for under ten percent of inquiries and were the most common issue. After that, it was power agreements and then rental disputes.
Similar to energy agreements, complaints about airlines saw a large spike in 2022, increasing by 88 percent. The summer of 2022 saw several strikes affecting air travel in, out and around Norway. First was an aircraft technicians’ strike, then a strike of SAS cabin crew in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Airlines affected by the strike, such as SAS, have received flack numerous times from watchdogs for their failure to pay out compensation to those affected by delays and cancellations triggered by the strikes in a timely manner.
“Many desperate consumers got in touch when the planes were left on the ground. But, unfortunately, the company’s handling of refunds and compensation has also generated many questions and legitimate irritation,” Blyverket said.
The director of the Norwegian Consumer Council said a large number of conflicts were triggered by a failure to have the proper paperwork in place between consumers and a provider of goods and services.
“Many of these cases are probably connected to the fact that there are amateurs and consumers on both sides, and the level of conflict would probably have been much lower if the parties were better at documenting what was agreed,” she said.