Your Swedish consumer rights: What you need to know

Maybe you’ve had a flight cancelled recently or a package holiday you went on didn’t live up to its promises. Or perhaps a product you ordered online arrived long after it was due. What would you do next? Are you aware of your consumer rights?

Your Swedish consumer rights: What you need to know
Travel problems? Find out where to go for free help and advice. Photo: Getty Images

It can be hard to know basic things like your consumer rights and who to turn to for help when you are living in a foreign country. 

As consumers handing over our hard earned money for goods and services, there can be nothing worse than feeling ripped off or disappointed. Even more frustrating is not knowing what to do about it. Then there are the rights we don’t even realise we have. Like, did you know travellers affected by certain flight delays and cancellations could be eligible for up to €600 in compensation?

So we spoke to legal advisor Nora Shoki from European Consumer Centre Sweden (ECC Sweden) to find out about the most common issues and how to get free assistance if you need it.

ECC Sweden offers legal advice and mediation on consumer rights in cross-border trade within the EU, Iceland, Norway and the UK. Last year alone it received 7,189 questions. 

As part of the ECC Network, ECC Sweden can assist consumers by putting them in touch with other offices in its EU-wide network to help resolve issues. In 2021, ECC Sweden shared 110 complaints to its colleagues within the ECC Network, and in turn it received 934 cases involving Swedish traders. 

The most common problems

The two biggest areas for consumer issues, according to ECC Sweden, are online shopping and travel. 

Online shopping continues to grow in the EU. A 2021 Eurostat survey showed that 90 percent of people aged 16 to 74 in the EU had used the internet the year before, 74 percent of whom had bought or ordered goods or services for private use. And when it comes to who shops online the most in the EU, Sweden ranks in the top three (after the Netherlands and Denmark).

It makes sense that a rise in online shopping also means a rise in issues around ecommerce. Most of us would have had some sort of online shopping experience that wasn’t quite right. It’s hard to tell the quality of something from a computer screen. Maybe the fabric or sizing was bad, your item turned up broken, or didn’t arrive at all.

Another area that has always been a cause for consumer problems is travel. The enormous amount of disruption to air travel brought on by the pandemic has meant many more cases concerning airlines in recent years, says Nora. 

Dealing with cancelled travel? Get free legal help and information on your Swedish consumer rights from ECC Sweden

Nora Shoki from ECC Sweden can help you with your consumer rights.

What to do if you have an issue

If you’ve had an issue buying something – whether a product or service – or are curious to know more about your rights as a Swedish consumer, the first port of call for information should be the website Halla Konsument (Hello Consumer), explains Nora. This is an independent service by Konsumentverket (the Swedish Consumer Agency), with information in a range of languages. Hello Consumer also has a range of guides depending on your issue – from cancelled flights to card complaints to problems with a hotel to finding out exactly what your right of withdrawal is. 

“Hello Consumer can assist people with their consumer issues, and if they need further assistance in their case, and the trader is based within the EU, Norway, Iceland or the UK, then they can transfer the case to us at ECC Sweden,” says Nora.

“Perhaps you’re not able to solve the dispute or the company doesn’t respond when you contact them,” she explains. In that case, Nora advises you can contact ECC Sweden and they will help in the best way they can. Sometimes knowing your rights plus having an official letter can really help you get taken more seriously!

“We’ll firstly provide legal advice on how to solve the case. And if the consumer isn’t able to solve the case by themselves, then we’ll investigate it based on the documentation that we received from the consumer. And if necessary, we’ll send the case to the ECC office in which the trader is based,” says Nora, adding that they can also mediate with a company to fight for the consumer’s rights. 

“It’s important for the consumers to know that we’re always standing by their side.

“For example, if we have a Swedish consumer, her name is Anna, she has a dispute with an airline that is based in Germany, we’ll send the case to our colleagues at ECC Germany, and they will contact the airline in order to mediate between Anna and the airline.”

In general, people know when something is wrong, says Nora. But when it comes down to the specifics of a law that helps a consumer – like when you’re eligible for compensation from a delayed flight, or how long you can own something before it is no longer covered by a warranty – people tend not to know their exact rights and how to use them. 

Explains Nora, “Say you buy something online and it arrives in your letterbox and it’s faulty in some way or another. In Sweden, by law, you have up to three years to file a complaint on faulty products. And if you purchase the product from a company in another EU country, you have at least two years.”

Hello Consumer’s site contains all the rules and regulations of buying online, and further advice if you need it, in one handy place

Shopping online doesn’t always go to plan. Photo: Getty Images

Things to know

There are a few instances when ECC Sweden is not able to help out. Like if the dispute is between two traders or between private persons.

If a consumer has already initiated legal action, such as if they’re already contacted a lawyer about going to court with a case or a complaint has been filed with Allmänna reklamationsnämnden (the National Board for Consumer Disputes), ECC Sweden is not able to assist them

Naturally, some cases may be more complicated than others. Nora points out a typical instance related to travel. 

“These days it is common for us to buy airfares through an online travel agency,” she says. “But if something goes wrong, it’s worth knowing that your opponent in the dispute, according to EU law, is the airline, not the travel agency.”

This doesn’t mean, however, that Nora recommends purchasing your airfares directly from the airline. Just be aware that you may need to be in contact with more than one company if your flight is cancelled or there is some other issue. 

Read up on your rights

So what can we do to better protect ourselves and avoid consumer rights headaches in the future? 

Nora advises to be prepared for what might happen. Read about your rights, spend a few minutes researching the company before you buy or sign anything. Another two minutes of your time should also be spent reading the terms and conditions, she says.

Also consider how you make your purchase. Using a credit card usually means you can use the bank’s service to get your money back if you need to. 

And it is worth knowing where a company is based before you make a purchase, because if it is outside the EU, Iceland, Norway or the UK, your rights will be different. 

“It’s important to understand that if you live in Sweden, you have all the rights that other Swedish citizens have,” says Nora. “That would be my number one message.”

Get free legal help and information on your Swedish consumer rights from ECC Sweden

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What parents need to know about travelling through Copenhagen airport with kids

Flying with children can be stressful at the best of times, so here are The Local’s best tips for departing from Copenhagen airport with your kids in tow.

What parents need to know about travelling through Copenhagen airport with kids

Things to do

Obviously, your family’s needs will vary depending on the age of your children. If you have young children, it can be a good idea for them to blow off some steam before getting on the flight.

A great way to do this can be to head to one of the airport’s playgrounds. There’s one after security near the entrance to Finger B, complete with luggage carts, a control tower complete with a slide, and a couple of planes for kids to climb on.

There’s also an outdoor playground before security with a couple of slides hidden inside a wooden cloud, outside Terminal 2.

Make sure to check out the large blue fish tank before security, too. It’s just next to Lagkagehuset/Ole and Steen and WOK restaurant near the baggage drop in Terminal 2.

There are also two Lego shops inside the airport: one between gates A&B and one between gates B&C. These are both after security.

If you want to buy something to keep your slightly older child occupied during the flight, there are a number of 7 Eleven and WH Smith shops which sell magazines, sticker and activity books and stationery, as well as snacks and drinks.

There’s also a child area in the SAS lounge with toys and children’s TV – free for SAS Business or Plus travellers or Gold EuroBonus members. 

For non-members, entry costs around 200-250 kroner per person, with free entry for kids under 2. This is sometimes cheaper off-season and you may be able to pay with EuroBonus reward points if you’ve got a stash saved up.

The SAS lounge also includes a buffet and unlimited drinks (including beer and wine), and wifi, newspapers and magazines included in your entry fee.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that transiting, arriving and departing passengers all share the same space at Copenhagen Airport (once they are on the gate side of security). So the same areas that can be used by families before departing are also available to anyone transiting through Copenhagen and you can also use them on arrival if you somehow have the energy for this.

Getting through security

Just before you get to the actual queues for security, there will be a child-size security scanner made out of Lego. If your child is scared about flying or worried about going through security, you can act out the process here to make them feel less nervous.

If you have kids under six, you’ll be sent to the family lane at security, with another security officer made out of Lego pointing the way.

If your child uses a buggy, you may need to check it in depending on size. Usually if it’s a small buggy you can fold down (a klapvogn or paraplyvogn in Danish), you can take it through security all the way to your gate. If it’s larger, you’ll probably have to check it in at the baggage drop and borrow an airport buggy after security.

Places to eat

Copenhagen Airport isn’t cheap, and if your child is a fussy eater you might want to take something with you from home. You are allowed to bring food through security with you as long as it isn’t a paste or liquid over 100ml (so avoid any soups, smoothies, or any pots of dressings, dips or sauces, to be on the safe side).

One exception to this is food or milk for babies. You can bring enough food or milk for your baby to last the duration of your flight, including water or hot water to make formula milk, and it’s exempt from the 100ml rule, although they may make you taste it at security.

Inside the airport, there are a lot of places to buy kid-friendly food both before and after security. If you sit in a food-court area, rather than inside one of the actual restaurants, you can eat food you’ve brought with you or each member of your group can grab whatever they fancy from a couple of different restaurants. There’s one between gates A and B and another near gate C. Both have lookout points where you can look at the planes taking off or landing while you eat.

Travelling with a baby

There are changing tables (puslebord or puslerum) in most of the toilet blocks in the airport, as well as dedicated taps for filling up a water bottle. These are marked drikkevand.

In the toilet block under O’Leary’s and MASH between gates A and B there’s a room for breastfeeding, as well as a couple of microwaves you can use to heat up formula milk, although you are of course allowed to breastfeed elsewhere in the airport. There’s an elevator, so you can take your buggy with you.

There’s also a pharmacy before security where you can pick up extra nappies or any medicines, although bear in mind any liquids will need to be under 100ml unless you’re planning to put them in your checked baggage.

Leaving Schengen

Bear in mind that if you’re leaving the Schengen area, you will have to go through passport control before you can go to your gate, meaning you won’t be able to return to the rest of the airport. 

In some areas (like Gate C), there’s a 7-Eleven after passport control where you can grab supplies, but others (like Gate F) only have toilets and benches, so make sure you’ve grabbed everything you need before you head through to your gate.

Once you’re in the gate, you may not be near a toilet until you get on to the plane, so bear this in mind before you head through.