Bol.com to inform consumers clearly who the seller is
The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has reprimanded online retailer bol.com, urging them to inform consumers clearly about who the seller is of a product or service. That has not always been entirely clear. After all, Bol.com not only sells its own products, but also offers other sellers the opportunity to sell their products on bol.com. Over the next couple of months, ACM will also actively check with other platforms whether they comply with these consumer information rules.
Edwin van Houten, director of ACM’s Consumer Department, comments: “It is crucial for consumers to know who the seller is. In order to prevent consumers from being sent from pillar to post, bol.com has now updated that information on its website. That is wonderful news for consumers. We are calling on other platforms to offer the same level of clarity.”
Basic principles for platforms that sell to consumers
Platforms such as Bol.com have a responsibility of informing consumers correctly. ACM received many complaints about Bol.com from consumers who said it was unclear who the seller was, and whom they could contact for solving their problems. When providing that information, platforms must follow these basic principles:
- It must be clear to consumers that they are dealing with a platform on which multiple sellers are active. The platform must be clear about its role if a consumer makes a purchase through the platform (for example: what is the platform’s role if the consumer has a complaint about a purchase made with another seller on the platform);
- It must be clear to consumers what their rights are, and whom they can remind of those rules. In that context, it is important that consumers know with whom they have entered into an agreement: with the platform or with another seller on the platform? In that way, consumers know before they make the purchase whom they can hold responsible for faulty products or if products are not delivered.
- The platform designs its website in such a way that the other sellers are able to comply with the statutory requirements (such as providing information about their identity and registered address as well as the product’s main features).
In addition to the information requirements, the platform must also make arrangements with other sellers on the platform about the conditions that they use for their sales. In this way, consumers will be better protected against unfair commercial practices. For example, they could agree to the following:
- not admitting all sellers to the platform, and verifying new sellers when they have been admitted.
- only admitting sellers that comply with consumer protection rules;
- reprimanding sellers that do not comply with the rules, and imposing sanctions on them if they do not adjust their behavior.
The digital economy
The digital economy is one of the key priorities on ACM’s Agenda. In order to ensure that markets work well for people and businesses, ACM will actively check online platforms over the next few months, for example, by monitoring the reports filed by consumers with ACM’s consumer information portal www.consuwijzer.nl.