The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has tackled several businesses, including the largest meal-delivery service providers and airline ticket providers in the Netherlands, about their payment fees. They charged consumers too high fees when paying for their online purchases using payment methods such as credit cards or iDeal, a widely-used online payment method in the Netherlands. These providers have now reduced the fees they charge consumers, bringing them in line with the rules. According to the rules, businesses can only charge the actual costs for payment. These are the variable costs per transaction plus any fixed costs for the payment system itself. Other costs such as personnel costs cannot be passed on in this manner. Anita Vegter, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “Consumers must be able to rely on the fact that businesses can only charge them the actual costs such as transaction costs. Businesses cannot use those costs as disguised payments for their services.”
What is the problem?
Meal-delivery service providers, among other providers, charged consumers too high fees. These consumers wanted to pay by iDeal or credit card. In some cases, these fees were over 10 percent of the total amount of their orders. After an intervention by ACM, providers such as Thuisbezorgd.nl and Just Eat have lowered the fees they charge their customers. Following its intervention, ACM noticed that other providers have also lowered their fees or have decided not to charge any fees any longer.
In addition, ACM also tackled various providers of airline tickets, including major airlines. These providers have indicated that they will now charge the actual costs per transaction. As a result thereof, consumers in most cases will pay less than before.
What is next?
In June 2014, new European consumer protection rules came into force. One of those rules is the one that says that only the actual costs for payment can be charged. As businesses were still uncertain about how they could comply with the new rules, ACM decided to tackle businesses, explaining to them how they would be able to adjust their practices relatively fast. ACM assumes that it is now clear how this rule is applied in practice. That is why ACM over the next few months will keep a close watch on businesses to see if they comply with said rule.
Mind how you pay
In November 2015, ACM called on consumers to make a conscious decision about how they pay for their online purchases. This is to prevent consumers from losing their money if something goes wrong or if they encounter any other such problems. Consumers can pay in different ways, for example, in advance or afterwards, insured or uninsured.