Shoppers in the Netherlands have certain protections and rights for purchases they make, whether the products are bought in a physical store, from a Dutch webshop or from a retailer based in another EU country…
Across the European Union, a standard set of rights are in place to protect consumers. Every member state must offer the same ‘minimum’ level of consumer rights. The European Commission does not set a maximum level of protection, however, so there are countries that may deviate if the level of protection is greater than the EU standard. Such is the case here in the Netherlands where consumers have extended rights in certain areas.
EUROPEAN CONSUMER PROTECTIONS
In 1999, the European Commission issued Directive 1999/44/EU on the sale of consumer goods and the guarantees which sellers are required to meet.
Some key protections introduced by the directive include:
- The seller is responsible to the purchaser when there is a lack of conformity at the point the product is delivered. In this case, the seller is responsible to bring the into conformity either by repairing or replacing the product.
- A consumer has two years from the point of purchase to notify the seller about a lack of conformity. For example, the condition of the product after a certain amount of use does not conform to the quality that would generally be expected for such a product. The seller is responsible for bringing the ‘defective’ product to the expected level of conformity.
- In general terms, the directive laid out that it is the seller who is responsible in the event of a lack of conformity, and the seller who must rectify the situation. The seller cannot ‘pass the blame’ by referring the consumer directly to the manufacturer for a lack of conformity issue (rather than a warranty issue).
- When a product ‘guarantee’ (warranty) is offered, it must be stated in clear language along with the manner in which a claim needs to be submitted and the name/address of the guarantor (i.e. usually the manufacturer vs. the seller).
- The term limit for a warranty can be greater than two years but never less.
EU CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY
The European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net) is an independent public service organization for consumers in the EU with representation in each member state.
ECC NEDERLAND is the local ECC branch in the Netherlands. The website provides clear information, in English, about the rights of consumers in the EU (including Dutch consumers), whether the buyer is purchasing in a store , buying off-premises or buying over the internet. In addition, the organization acts as an intermediary when a disagreement arises between a buyer in the Netherlands and a seller in another EU member state, Norway or Iceland, which remains unresolved.
The ECC Nederland website answers questions commonly asked by consumers, such as What information does the seller have to supply in-store? Who is responsible for a product bought online? When does the purchaser have a right to a warranty? In which circumstances can a contract be cancelled due to a faulty product?
DUTCH CONSUMER RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS
In addition to the ECC Nederland, there are Dutch organizations which monitor the retail environment in the Netherlands and help protect consumers against unsafe products, price gouging and unfair trading practices.
CONSUMENTENBOND is the Dutch consumer rights agency. It provides detailed information about specific consumer rights in the Netherlands, gives advice for resolving a dispute with a seller and offers mediation services when an agreement cannot be reached.
KLACHTENKOMPASS is an online public forum created and monitored by the Consumentenbond. It allows a consumer to file a dispute against a company and for the company to explain their point of view, to make an offer to resolve the problem or to deny the claim in total. The communication between the parties is public record and accessible to anyone who visits the website.
DE GESCHILLENCOMMISSIE is the Dutch organization where consumers in the Netherlands can go to formally lodge a complaint against a company.
AUTHORITEIT CONSUMENT & MARKT (Dutch ACM) ensures that fair competition is being practiced within industries to protect consumers against issues such as price collusion.
NEDERLANDSE VOEDSEL en WARENAUTORITEIT is the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality.