Article | Last updated: 2017-04-07 | Ministry of Children and Equality
Information is one of the key measures in consumer policy. Consumers must have good and sufficient information about goods and services offered on the market, as well as knowledge about their rights and obligations as consumers. Information promotes consumer power and enables consumers to make informed choices.
The Norwegian Consumer Council
The Consumer Council is an interest and service organisation for consumers, and the most important source of public consumer information. The Consumer Council presents information about consumer rights when buying goods and services, assistance in the case of disputes and guidance in connection with consumption choices. The Consumer Council has comprehensive contact with consumers through Forbrukerportalen (the Consumer Portal), Finansportalen (the Finance Portal), Forbruker Europa (Consumer Europe), Forbrukertelefonen (The Consumer Telephone), letters and e-mails, complaints boards and visits to the regional offices. The Consumer Council is a state administrative body with special mandates under the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.
The Finance portal
Finansportalen is a tool offering consumers information and comparison of financial products and services in the Norwegian market. If you wish to invest, change your bank or insurance or transfer money abroad, the portal is a useful point of departure for obtaining an overview of what these enterprises offer. The Finance portal is operated by the Consumer Council.
If you are in a specific complaint situation or dispute relating to a good or service you have purchased from a business within the EU or Icelandic national borders, Forbruker Europa may assist you. Forbruker Europa offers general information about your rights as a European consumer, and will help you to easily find the complaints board that can deal with your case. Forbruker Europa is funded by the European Commission and the Consumer Council.
The Consumer Ombudsman
The main duty of the Consumer Ombudsman is to inspect that marketing and terms of agreement are in compliance with the Marketing Control Act. On its website the Ombudsman office supplies information to consumers and businesses focusing on preventing illegal marketing and use of illegal contracts. Special importance has been attached to information about the digital marketplace, and the website offers information about protection of privacy, how to avoid internet fraud and the terms for mobile content services.
The National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO) is a research institute that especially focuses on market conditions and consumer interests. The institute places much importance in presenting its own research findings for use by the public authorities, business and industry, organisations and consumers. Findings are presented on the institute's website, in a series of reports and in national and international periodicals. The institute is a state administrative body with special powers under the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, and is funded through basic appropriations and project revenue.
There are many labelling schemes for consumers in the Norwegian market. Simplified labelling systems and symbol labelling schemes aim to make it easier for consumers to make informed choices. A study from SIFO in 2011 showed that the majority of consumers believe that labelling in the form of symbols and labelling systems helps consumers make better choices when they are shopping for groceries.
Svanen (the Swan)
The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion established the foundation Miljømerking (Nordic Eco-Labelling) in 1990 to manage the official eco-labels in Norway, the Swan and the Flower. The Swan is a joint Nordic scheme for positive environmental labelling, and the Flower is the EU's eco-label scheme. Both are widely used in Norway. Eco-labelled products and services are subjected to an objective environmental assessment by the foundation. The Swan considers a comprehensive environmental perspective through the entire lifecycle of the product or service. There is a wide range of Swan-labelled products and services, including detergents, electrical products, heat pumps and washing machines, services in hotels and restaurants and children's clothing. A complete overview can be found on the foundation’s website: ecolabel.no.
Nøkkelhullet (the keyhole symbol)
The keyhole symbol was introduced as a joint Nordic label in 2009, aiming to make it easier for consumers to choose healthy foods. Foods labelled with the keyhole symbol have less and healthier fat, less sugar and salt and more fibre and more wholemeal grain than other products in the same category. The criteria for which foods may be labelled with the keyhole symbol have been established through cooperation between the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish food and health authorities. The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority are responsible for the labelling scheme in Norway.