ACM has drawn up guidelines on the prevention of misleading practices with regard to directory assistance services
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) gives directory assistance providers guidelines for preventing misleading practices. These ACM guidelines have been prompted by complaints filed by consumers who had apparently made phone calls using directory assistance services, while thinking they had directly contacted the organization that they were trying to reach.
In the ‘Guidelines on the prevention of misleading practices with regard to directory assistance services’, ACM draws the telecom sector’s attention to the rules regarding unfair commercial practices with regard to directory assistance services. In most cases, a per-minute rate is charged for using a directory assistance service. Consumers pay this rate for the entire duration of the call, even after they have been put through to the organization that they were trying to reach. Directory assistance providers have to make clear in advance that their services are directory assistance services, and what the rate for such services is.
ACM wishes to prevent that directory assistance providers will mislead consumers. Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: ‘Directory assistance services are on our radar. This means that we correct providers if they do not observe the rules, for example, if they fail to make sufficiently clear what kind of service they offer. We also wish to prevent any further irregularities. That is why we explain the relevant rules to this sector.’
Directory assistance providers continue to be responsible themselves
With these guidelines, ACM draws the attention of the telecom sector to the rules regarding unfair commercial practices with regard to directory assistance services so that consumers are protected, and a level playing field for all providers is ensured. The guidelines will also offer a more detailed explanation as well as recommendations on how directory assistance providers are able to prevent misleading practices vis-à-vis consumers. Providers will continue to be responsible themselves for compliance with the statutory standards. If directory assistance providers do not comply with the relevant rules, ACM may take enforcement action. ACM may impose a fine or an order subject to periodic penalty payments. In addition, ACM may repeal number assignments or it may refuse to assign a new phone number when a provider applies for one.