The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed fines totaling 1 million on kitchen dealers Keukencentrum Mandemakers, Brugman Keukens, and Keukenconcurrent. The fines were imposed for using misleading practices vis-à-vis consumers when selling kitchens at multi-day consumer events between 2015 and 2017. These three dealers had consumers sign a form, which wrongfully gave the impression that consumers were required to buy a kitchen. The fines on Keukencentrum Mandemakers and on Keukenconcurrent were raised by 50%, because these dealers impeded ACM’s investigation.
Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, comments: ‘Consumers have been misled by these kitchen dealers. And we take firm action against misleading practices. Misleading practices hurt consumer confidence in markets. And without confidence, the economy cannot function prorperly. At these events, consumers signed forms in order to be eligible for a special event discount. These forms gave the impression that they were also required to buy kitchens, whereas this was not a requirement at all.’
Misleading kitchen selling at events
Keukencentrum Mandemakers, Brugman, and Keukenconcurrent are all part of the same group. An investigation by ACM revealed that, between 2015 and 2017, they used misleading practices when selling kitchens at several well-known, multi-day consumer events. In order to be eligible for a special event discount, consumers had to fill out forms, and sign these. On these forms, consumers could indicate which kitchen they were interested in. These forms looked like purchase agreements. For example, the forms stated that these were purchase agreements, they stated prices and terms of payment. In addition, they also stated that general terms and conditions were applicable. Furthermore, these forms also mentioned that consumers had to pay 30% if they decided not to go through with the purchase. Such practices are misleading. According to ACM, the entire process was aimed at giving consumers the impression that they had bought a kitchen, whereas, in reality, consumers were not bound by anything, and this was just an offer without any obligations.
For these misleading commercial practices, Brugman is imposed a fine of 250,000 euros. Keukencentrum Mandemakers and Keukenconcurrent are each imposed a fine of 375,000 euros. The fines for Keukencentrum Mandemakers and Keukenconcurrent were raised by 50% because they had impeded ACM’s investigation. These dealers did not allow ACM to ask any questions to their employees that worked at the events in question about the selling methods used at those events. In that way, the dealers impeded the investigation. Everyone, including individual employees of businesses under investigation, is required to cooperate with ACM’s investigation, and to answer questions.
These dealers still have the opportunity to file appeals or objections against ACM’s decision.
27-08-2019 Fines on three kitchen dealers for having misled consumers (in Dutch)