ACM’s Fake Store warns against purchases made on social media


The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has opened the Fake Store (in Dutch: Nepshop) in downtown Amsterdam to warn consumers against purchases made on social media. In the period leading up to Black Friday, consumers receive a lot of online offers for the holiday season, which, in the Netherlands, consists of Christmas and the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas (December 5). Some of these offers are sent by fake online stores.

Fake Store, Haarlemmerdijk 48, Amsterdam

The Fake Store is a pop-up exhibition on shopping on social media. People assume everything is okay when they buy something online. Sometimes, however, it is not okay. In real life, you may end up receiving something that is completely different from what you had expected. Or you do not receive anything at all. For example, you may think you just ordered a one-off free trial, but you are actually stuck with a subscription. And then the debt collection letters start coming your way.

The exhibition features ten examples of purchases made on social media gone wrong. It is important that consumers know what to look out for in order to prevent shopping mishaps. The most important consumer tips, offered by ACM’s consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, are:

  • Read reviews in order to assess a seller's trustworthiness;
  • Pay later or opt for a payment method that comes with a refund policy (payment insurance).

Online store or fake store?

Consumers buy more and more online, and do so more and more often. Companies try to tempt consumers into making impulse purchases on social media as well. When purchasing products on social media, it is often unclear who the seller of the product is, and under what conditions it is sold. Sometimes, you may have made a purchase from a fake store, and you will not receive your product at all. That is when you find out that the page on which you had bought the product has disappeared, making it impossible to contact the seller.

Awareness campaign video

As part of its awareness campaign, ACM has also produced a video featuring the Fake Store. The ten online shopping mishaps are also shown in the video, and several consumers have shared their experiences. One of them is Marije, who bought a piece of sportswear online: “Then it suddenly turned out I had taken out a subscription.” Marije’s story is one of the ten mishaps that are showcased in the Fake Store. The other online shopping mishaps are also in the video. 

Consumers can share their experiences with ConsuWijzer, ACM’s consumer information portal. ConsuWijzer also offers advice about the steps you can take.

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