Complaints culture on rise

Norwegians’ lamentations are increasing in quantity and scope, reports say

Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Complaints regarding goods and services have been fewer in past decades, but this has changed recently. 2015’s first six months have seen the highest-ever number of protests lodged with the Press Complaints Committee (PFU) and NRK superior and advisory council Kringkastingsrådet.

Other sectors are also experiencing a rise. 2014 was a record year for the Consumer Ombudsman regarding complaints about illegal marketing and unreasonable contracts. There were 11,000 last year, while 2013 saw some 8,000.

According to Norwegian Labor and Welfare Service (NAV) staff, a case processing backlog was the reason for the number they received in the 2013-14 period.

NAV’s Yngvar Åsholt explained to Dagsavisen that they believe that “several of these could have been avoided if we’d managed to better inform people about the rules and the reasons for the decisions.”

“People have also become more aware of the right to complain and they have generally high expectations of the welfare state,” he continued.

The stream of complaints submitted to the Board of Health Supervision (Helsetilsynet) since 2012 has been steady, but with an upward curve. This public body deals with the Child Welfare Service (CWS), health, and welfare sectors.

“There are several things that play a part here. The population has increased, and looking back in time reveals that there have been legislative changes that may have influenced the number of complaints,” stated Rannveig Bjerkmo, assistant County Governor for Oslo and Akershus Counties.

Parliamentary Ombudsman Aage Thor Falkanger believes one of the reasons for the general rise in complaints is that people have also “been granted increased rights.”

“Moreover, the courts now often make decisions that used to be politicians’ area of responsibility,” he concluded.

Complaint numbers regarding the transport sector have decreased. State railway NSB received 27,000 in 2013 and 23,000 last year. Dagsavisen reports it looks as though 2015’s level will likely be some 20,000.

Oslo public transport company Ruter received slightly fewer complaints in 2014, while 2012-13 showed an increase in these.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the July 17, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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