CA: Enforcement and providing information go hand in hand
In 2010, the Netherlands Consumer Authority (CA) imposed a record amount of EUR 2,680,000 in fines and penalties. In addition, over 2.3 million consumers visited the website of consumer information portal ConsuWijzer. Over half a million sample letters were downloaded.
Commenting on these figures, Bernadette van Buchem, Director of the CA, says: 'I am proud that we reach many consumers with our information about how they can exercise their rights. Consumers with individual problems can use the information to take action themselves. In cases where the problems are too big or have a more permanent character, we act as regulator, and we can impose fines. Through ConsuWijzer, we receive valuable information from consumers. The combination of enforcement and providing information has been a success.'
Progress of CA 2010/2011 Agenda
With regard to the specific focus areas of the CA identified in the 2010/2011 Agenda, having dealt with websites that resell event tickets has had a positive effect on consumer protection. Consumers are now better informed about the fact that tickets sold by those sites are second-hand, and about what this means for them. A lot of changes to these websites were implemented after the CA had taken strict enforcement actions.
With regard to misleading and aggressive customer-recruitment methods, the CA saw the number of complaints about door-to-door (doorstep) selling decrease in 2010 after it started providing information about and conducting investigations into door-to-door selling. At the same time, an increase in the number of complaints about telemarketing was noticed. As regards the subject of warranty, the CA conducted various investigations in 2010. In addition to this, consumers were informed about their rights, also during a special Warranty Week. The CA will soon publish the results of its investigation into possibly misleading information involving warranty rights in the electronics sector. With regard to international matters, it is striking that they often involve the internet, such as ticket sales and misleading information on websites.
From July 2010 to July 2011, the CA is the president of the global network of consumer authorities ICPEN (International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network).
In 2010, the public voted ConsuWijzer the best government website of the year. Over 2.3 million consumers found their way to the site. A special mobile version of the website was also launched: m.consuwijzer.nl. The top five categories of reports filed with ConsuWijzer in 2010 were:
- misleading and/or aggressive customer-recruitment methods
- warranty and nonconformity
- bills and payments
- canceling agreements
- unclear conditions in agreements
- 03-05-2011 CA 2010 Annual Report