The importance of consumer law in resolving alleged competition problems has increased considerably. Partly because of that, the former Consumer Authority was integrated into the ACM a few years ago. The concept of “consumer empowerment” is playing an increasingly important role in the ACM’s work of regulating corporate behaviour. The ACM monitors compliance with the legislation and regulations in the field of consumer law.
WE ADVISE BUSINESSES ON SUCH THINGS AS:
- unfair trading practices
- privacy and security
UNFAIR OR MISLEADING COMMERCIAL PRACTICES
Consumers are protected against businesses that approach them in a misleading or aggressive manner. The ACM monitors this.
Unfair trading practices include:
- misleading advertising
- advertising products that are not in fact available (“teasers”)
- wrongly claiming to comply with a code of practice or to have earned an accreditation mark
- stating prices without mentioning all the additional costs
- omitting information on important product features
- acquiring new customers in an aggressive manner (aggressive selling)
- claiming that a product is “free” although costs are still involved
The ACM can impose substantial fines on companies that act contrary to the regulations regarding unfair or misleading trading practices.
Consumers are increasingly buying goods and services on the Internet, but also by phone or using order forms, for example from a catalogue. In the case of a distance contract, there is no direct contact between the enterprise and the consumer, as there is in a bricks-and-mortar store. Distance selling – for example via the Internet, SMS, or phone – is therefore subject to additional rules. There are specific information requirements that an enterprise must comply with.
Webshops are subject to additional consumer protection rules. There are also specific rules regarding the supply of energy at a distance, distance selling of digital content (music, games or software), and telemarketing.
PRIVACY AND SECURITY
On May 25th 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force. The GDPR is EU-wide legislation which aims to strictly regulate the processing of personal data of consumers within the EU, in order to offer to those consumers a higher level of data protection. The Dutch Privacy Authority (DPA) can impose heavy fines (fines up to (€ 20 million or 4% of the worldwide net turnover of the undertaking or organisation involved) in case of a violation of the rules laid down in the GDPR.