NMa: consumer is not always shown lowest bid on Werkspot.nl
Consumers posting their odd jobs on Werkspot.nl, a Dutch website specialized in odd-jobs-related classified ads, are not always shown the lowest bid, even though Werkspot.nl does not inform consumers about these rejected bids during the bidding process. Consumers are thus left in the dark about whether there had been undertakings or freelancers who would have accepted the job for less. 'Werkspot.nl explains this by saying it does so for its consumers' own protection, yet it does not provide any insight into the exact criteria it uses in rejecting bids. If the site would be more transparent about that, consumers, with that information in mind, would then be in a better position to decide whether to post their odd jobs on Werkspot.nl, on a different website, or somewhere completely else,' says Pieter Kalbfleisch, chairman of the Board of the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa).
These are the conclusions of a prelimenary investigation the NMa carried out in response to an indication it had received claiming that Werkspot.nl excluded undertakings from participating in the website if they posted too low a bid in the eyes of the website's owners.
Using DIY-costs estimation software, Werkspot.nl makes their own cost estimate for several odd jobs on offer, such as paint and plaster jobs. In case a bidder attempts to submit a bid that is considerably lower than Werkspot.nl's own estimate, the bidder is asked to contact the website's owners. If the bidder is unable to provide a good explanation for his low bid, the bid is rejected and is not posted. However, the consumer who posted the job is not informed of any rejected bids, which subsequently means he is unable to offer the job to the actual lowest bidder. Werkspot.nl no longer applies an earlier policy where odd-job companies and freelancers that repeatedly submitted too low a bid were completely barred from the website.
Based on the prelimenary investigation's findings, the NMa sees no reasons to launch a competition-law investigation. For example, the prelimenary investigation did not show that Werkspot.nl's way of doing business has been the result of agreements between participating undertakings. Also, consumers have a plethora of alternatives at their disposal for offering their jobs and still be able to see whether there had been even lower bids.
Werkspot.nl is a Dutch website where individuals can post odd-jobs-related classified ads for free. In exchange for paying a fixed monthly fee, odd-job companies and freelancers can submit bids on these odd jobs. In 2008, consumers posted 35,000 odd jobs on Werkspot.nl. The website's owners expect that number to double in 2009, which roughly translates to €200 million worth of odd jobs.