Once again, Deputy-Ombudsman Petri Jääskeläinen is having to look into the practice within the spheres of administration of the Ministry of Justice and of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy of charging for telephone advice. The Deputy-Ombudsman has been tasked with investigating complaints concerning the premium rates charged for telephone advice services provided by both ministries. Based on information gleaned from the Ministries? web sites, it would appear that the telephone service for their sectors of administration still does not in every respect meet the requirement that advice be provided free of charge. The Deputy-Ombudsman has asked the ministries to explain, by the end of April 2009, why their telephone advice services are still being charged for.
In late May 2008 the Deputy-Ombudsman recommended to all ministries that they make their telephone advice services cost free. He emphasised that an authority is obliged to provide procedural, factual and legal advice free of charge as well as to answer questions relating to transactions with the authority. Advice and transactions can not be separated, because normal transactions often include also advice. Good administration includes the requirement that advice be provided free of charge. Authorities' contact numbers, client service numbers and the numbers of officials whom clients of administration may contact concerning their business may not be excluded from the scope of cost-free advice.
The Deputy-Ombudsman intervened in relation to charges being made for telephone advice within the labour administration as long ago as June 2006. In December 2007 he issued a reprimand to the Ministry of Justice for its delay in making the telephone service within its sector of administration free of charge.
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