Disputes with consumers
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Start by finding out the cause of the dissatisfaction:
What is the consumer dissatisfied with?
Is there a deficiency/defect in the service or in the item?
What can you do to satisfy the customer?
Talk to the consumer
The consumer should first complain, or “file a complaint”, as it is called in the law, directly to you. By talking to each other, you can hopefully come up with a common solution.
If you have difficulty getting along, you can get help from an independent professionally knowledgeable person.
If you agree that a defect/deficiency exists, you are almost always entitled to correct what the consumer is dissatisfied with – but within a reasonable period of time and at no cost to the consumer. What constitutes a “reasonable period of time” is determined on a case-by-case basis. If time is important to the consumer, it is especially important that you correct the deficiency/defect immediately.
If you have tried to correct the deficiency/defect but the consumer is still dissatisfied, the consumer can request a price reduction. The reduction should correspond to the cost to the consumer of having the deficiency/defect corrected by another entrepreneur. In some cases, part or even all of the contract may be cancelled. Keep in mind that the consumer has the right to withhold payment equal to what it costs to have the deficiency/defect fixed or the job completed.
Contact your trade association
If you are a member of a trade association, you can turn to it for advice on how to handle the situation. The consumer can get advice from her/his municipal consumer guidance service and our guidance service, Hallå konsument (Hello Consumer). In some municipalities, the consumer guidance service also offers advice to entrepreneurs. Contact your municipality to find out if they can help you.
Examine the dispute
As a last resort, you can take the matter to court and have the district court settle your dispute. The consumer may have her/his case examined by the National Board for Consumer Disputes (ARN).
Obligation to provide information about alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
If a consumer files a complaint about an item or service and you cannot reach an agreement, it is your duty to provide information about alternative dispute resolution (ADR) via ARN or another approved industry board. You should provide clear, understandable and easily accessible information about ARN’s or the trade board’s web address and postal address. It is not sufficient to include general information about ARN in your terms of contract or on your website.
In connection with the complaint, you must also indicate whether or not you intend to participate in the dispute resolution procedure.
E-commerce companies must provide information about online platforms
If you sell online and have undertaken or are required to use one or more ADR entities, your must provide information about the fact that an online dispute resolution platform exists. This information should be available on your website. If the offer is made by e-mail, the information should be included in the e-mail message.
A company that does not provide the information described may face marketing law penalties. The Swedish Consumer Agency is responsible for ensuring that the rules are followed.
The National Board for Consumer Disputes (ARN)
ARN is an authority that handles disputes between consumers and businesses. Only the consumer can submit a report. ARN’s decision consists of recommendations and is not mandatory, but most companies follow ARN’s recommendations and in some cases they are required to do so under the terms of their affiliation with their trade association. ARN does not provide counselling.
If your company has been reported to ARN
If the company has been reported to ARN, it is important that you respond to the report and address the information provided by the notifier. If you do not respond at all, ARN usually assumes that the consumer is right. On their website you can take note of common cases and indicative decisions.
Read about the process when a company has been reported to ARN (available in Swedish)
Common cases on the ARN website (available in Swedish)
Indicative decisions on ARN’s website (available in Swedish)