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Dutch Railways NS informs consumers more clearly thanks to ACM

The information that Dutch Railways NS presented on its website or included in its emails to consumers was either incorrect or unclear on several points. The information about cancelling passes in particular did not comply with the rules. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) instructed NS to bring its information in line with the statutory rules on the provision of information. NS has since complied with the instructions. Anita Vegter, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “It is important that consumers are informed correctly, when visiting the website of NS. Only then will they be able to make well-informed decisions such as about cancelling their passes.”

Cancelling passes

Through its consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, ACM received reports from consumers who tried to cancel their NS passes. In general, ACM believes it is essential that businesses comply with the rules on cancellations, and has therefore repeatedly reminded various businesses in recent months about such rules. Now, ACM will take action straightaway, which is what it has done in this case involving NS.

Dealing with consumer problems swiftly

ACM has different instruments at its disposal for dealing with consumer problems. When choosing its approach in each case, ACM puts consumers central. In this particular situation, ACM opts for a swift and targeted approach. In other situations, ACM may opt for fines. Over the next few months, ACM will make sure that NS complies with the rules.

ACM has pointed out to NS the following issues:

  • NS failed to inform consumers in a clear manner about the conditions attached to passes, giving consumers the impression that NS always renewed their annual passes automatically.
  • In some cases, NS told consumers they could only cancel their passes with a notice of more than a month. According to the law, consumers must be able to cancel permanent contracts with a notice of one month at the most, and consumers must be able to cancel at any time.
  • NS failed to comply with severa\l information obligations. For example, NS failed to give consumers complete information about the cookies it used on its website, and the information about the supplement fees for certain trains was not transparent.

Following ACM’s intervention, NS immediately adjusted all issues on its website.