ACM’s oversight during the Coronavirus crisis
This is an updated version of ACM’s statement published on 18 March.
The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has far-reaching effects on people and businesses. These are extraordinary times. ACM is closely monitoring economic developments, and is ready to answer any questions about consumer rights and collaborations that companies wish to launch in order to combat the crisis. On the website of ACM’s consumer information portal, ACM Consuwijzer, consumers can find information (in Dutch) about, for example, canceling trips, vouchers issued by businesses instead of products or services, or subscriptions that cannot be continued. On ACM’s site, we also provide guidance for businesses.
Working together aimed at limiting harm to society
The rules and regulations we enforce offer many opportunities for working together in extraordinary times like these in order to prevent people and businesses from getting harmed as a result of the current crisis. Several companies and trade organizations have already contacted us with questions about what opportunities exist for collaboration. We always try to find the right balance between the interests of all parties involved. ACM will not take any action if that balance is found and the collaboration is therefore in the general interest of people and businesses.
Fair business practices, also in times like these
Businesses cannot take advantage of the current crisis to do things that, under normal circumstances, they would not be allowed to do either. For example, companies are still not allowed to conclude any price-fixing agreements. And, businesses still cannot abuse their dominant positions (which they either already had or obtained as a result of the current crisis) by asking too high prices or by excluding competitors.
Consumers cannot be misled. Sellers cannot make any wrongful claims, or take advantage of uncertainty and scarcity. Companies must continue to provide correct and realistic information if products will be delivered later or can no longer be delivered at all due to factory closures, for example.
Questions about consumer rights and the COVID-19 pandemic
What are your rights now that your gym is suddenly closed? What happens if an event is cancelled? Do I have to accept a voucher if classes are cancelled? On ACM Consuwijzer’s site, you can find the answers to many of these questions (in Dutch).
Information about ACM’s work
For ACM and its consumer information portal ACM ConsuWijzer, it is business ‘as usual’. ACM ConsuWijzer can be reached by email and Facebook. On weekdays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., ACM ConsuWijzer can be reached by phone as well.
Virtually all ACM employees work from home. ACM has resumed conducting unannounced dawn raids and interrogations that are part of investigations into possible violations committed by businesses. In addition, ACM has resumed organizing public hearings.
If, because of these temporary circumstances, you experience any delays in reaching us, or delays in procedures, we ask for your understanding. On our end, too, we will be sensitive to these circumstances when it comes to deadlines.