The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is charged with:
- competition oversight;
- sector-specific regulation of several sectors;
- enforcement of consumer protection laws.
Our ultimate goal is to create a level playing field, where all businesses play by the rules, and where well-informed consumers exercise their rights.
ACM will take action if businesses fail to play by the rules, for example, because they have concluded price-fixing agreements. If businesses wish to merge, we will assess what the effects will be on competition and consumers. If we think that the effects will be negative, we are able to attach conditions to that merger or acquisition. Or we can even block them altogether. We devote special attention to cooperation between health care providers. We encourage collaborations that improve the quality and affordability of health care.
In several sectors, we impose additional rules in order to promote competition. This is because competition in these sectors does not naturally exist. These sectors are:
- postal services;
With these additional rules, we also wish to safeguard the affordability, quality, and availability of the products and services in these sectors. And we wish to stimulate innovation in them. Businesses and consumers that encounter problems with their energy providers or telecom providers can contact ACM for advice. ACM takes action against providers that do not comply with the rules.
ACM keeps a constant eye on the issues that consumers are facing, for example through our consumer information portal ConsuWijzer. If we notice that a firm has generated a lot of complaints, we will then try to find out what is needed in order for that firm to adjust its practices as soon as possible. Have the rules been violated? If so, we are also able to take legal steps such as imposing a fine or an order subject to periodic penalty payments. If we do that, we will issue a warning to consumers via ConsuWijzer. Consumers may also contact ConsuWijzer if they have a problem with a company. They can do so by visiting ConsuWijzer’s website or by calling us. ConsuWijzer offers free advice. With that advice, consumers will know what their rights are, and how to exercise them.
- Visit Consuwijzer.nl (in Dutch)