DNA and Saunalahti don’t openly advertise that immigrants must live in Finland for two years and pay a deposit

by , under Enrique

Migrant Tales got in touch today with two telephone operators: DNA and Saunalahti. Both companies said that the minimum residence requirement of two years in Finland for an immigrant to get a mobile phone line or contract. Everything got complicated, however, when I asked them to tell me what they said in writing.

When I asked a DNA employee over the phone about a hypothetical friend who was a foreigner who has lived in Finland for a year, she said that there is a two-year minimum residence requirement and that the deposit could be anywhere from 300 to over 500 euros depending who was applying.

I did get a prompt SMS message from DNA: “Costumer service cannot determine beforehand the amount of the deposit to be paid. The customer will receive a personal letter stating if he has the possibility to get a contract [with DNA]. If a deposit is asked, we’ll tell the person why this is required. Greetings from DNA”

The Saunalahti employee couldn’t find on the company’s website any mention of a two-year residence requirement never mind any mention of a deposit.

Both operators offered a quick solution: Why not get a prepaid phone line or a friend to open a mobile phone line for you?

One of the valid questions that we could ask concerning these requirements is why they are required in the first place.

Is this the way DNA and Saunalahti build customer relations and mutual trust?




  1. Brave

    Hi Enrique,
    This is what i call it walls… this kind of walls are everywhere in Finland,i know it very well and have enough examples… this is a control method that Finland improve it day by day and hour by hour.
    Boycott.. thats a kind of boycott.
    The only place we r not boycott are shops and markets…
    🙂 because its about money Ha ha ha
    I am shopping from Finnish markets too, but
    Oh if there was a foreigner shop that i could buy all i need…oh it was great for me… i would like to boycott them who boycott my life too 🙂
    But look at here MT… It made a gteat chance for Lidl, oh lucky Lidl Ha ha ha we foreigners all go to Lidl… specially Finnish shops make a high price on foods However LIDL is very good too and truely deserve it.
    Walls oh wallls look at walls

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Hi Brave One, walls, walls and walls. Maybe you should write a poem for MT about those walls.

  2. Chef

    It seems there is a saying in Finland that a man’s 1€ is equal to a woman’s 80cents. How many cents in the case of an immigrant then?

    Imagine a typical immigrant student. I do not have many friends in Finland, and my family do not live here. I have been using prepaid connections from Saunalahti last four years or so. Always found it too expensive (7 cents per sms, 6-11 cents per min for a call). It may look ‘cheap’ but then you only need to make calls to one or two organizations seeking a job or their services, your balance will be finished while waiting someone to pick your call.

    Finnish friends never share ‘helpful’ information. They rather prefer to say ‘I do not know’ if they are 95% aware, but 5% unsure, on some details. Or they never fail to say the well known excuse ‘this is Finland’! In Finland, a stranger in the road can be more helpful than a 3 year old friendship.

    Anyway, coming to taking the mobile connection. I came to know that if I take a postpaid connection, the mobile charges are way too cheaper. Something like, 10€ in a month can give 500 calls and 500 sms ! There are even better offers if you can bargain or if you have a boy/girlfriend working in DNA or Saunalahti.

    I first approached DNA in December 2012. I wanted to have a new number from the beginning of the New Year! The salesman asked for my passport. The same question was asked: “how long have you been in Finland? We offer postpaid only for people who lived in Finland minimum 2 years”.

    Verifying the passport, the salesman was satisfied. He helped me to choose a wonderful number. My application was put on their system. He said, in a week time you will get a letter from DNA to verify your address. Your number will start working from then.

    I was happy and waiting – 1 week, (New Year passed), 2 weeks… I again visited the shop and spoke to the same salesman. He checked in their system and told me that the letter to me was in ‘preparation’ and soon I was going to get it. “Be patient”! “It is normal”! “We have thousands of new customers”! ….

    Fine, 1 month passed. Nothing happened. Visited the shop, spoke to the salesman. That was when he spoke about the requirement of 300-500€ deposit may be required to start the connection ! I asked him, why? He started telling me another business horror story while being a bit critical about how DNA handled my file !

    He said, a couple of years ago there was no such deposit conditions. Some immigrants bought some expensive hand phones as postpaid customers and later they sold it and left the country. This caused a lot of loss to DNA !

    While it is immaterial to ask how many million €s DNA got lost by such dishonest immigrants, let us say, DNA had a point to have a condition in place. It was also stupid from DNA’s part not to make sure their investment was safe then.

    After hearing this story, I expressed that I understood his version. Then I asked the salesman, “Is it fair to delay my application because someone else cheated DNA some years ago?”

    Many rules in Finland resemble the conditions of DNA and Saunalahti. These rules are backward looking and the people who suffer out of these rules are the ones who live currently in Finland.

    As no hope prevailed,I visited Saunalahti. Heard the same questions, and they too asked for a deposit. Had a lengthy argument with the salesman there. Finally, he said, I will give you a postpaid connection. But you will anyway get a letter from Saunalahti asking for a 300€ deposit, which you can ignore ! I have a connection from Saunalahti now. Already paid last two months bill. My mobile bill is 10€ in a month, which otherwise was 30€-40€ for less talk time and less number of sms messages.

    A man’s 1€ is 30 cents for an immigrant in Finland?!

    I had read a report on mobile connection issues of immigrants some days ago in the Migration Tales. I was reminded then by my own experience. Today while passing through the DNA shop area, I saw the same salesman standing without a single customer in his shop !

    I thought let me inquire what happened to my application after nearly 5 months. He checked the details. He then remembered the whole story! How he then reacted was very Finnish ! He said, “if I say a sorry, it doesn’t mean anything. But I must say that I am terribly sorry for this. But I can’t help it”!

    Migration Tales had the resources (knowledge of Finnish) and concern to cross check whether there was any legal base for asking immigrants to pay such a deposit. It was indeed informative to know these mobile companies were making their own rules.

    I repeat, Finland has several such ‘backward looking’ laws that discriminates and hinders well being of people with immigrant background who are living in Finland today. Conditions of mobile companies like DNA and Saunalahti, though weird, are somewhat understandable as they are business organizations. But this is how government agencies in Finland treat immigrants too.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Hi Chef, thank you for sharing what happened to you with us.

      The issue has, I believe, to do with the way Finns have been educated. As you know, the fear of the outside world is very present in our history and affects the way we act. It’s not only foreigners opening a bank account, getting a mobile phone line or getting life insurance coverage that is the issue. If you read our history one of the matters that comes across is our suspicion of foreigners. See the Restricting Act of 1939, which was in force until 1995. Why did it take until 1983 when Finland got its first aliens’ act? All these matters point to one issue: suspicion of the outside world because our society cannot handle yet cultural diversity well.

      In the long run Finns will learn but for the meantime we will have to put up what you call “backward looking” laws that reinforce our fears.