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If you are involved in the online selling of products or services in the Netherlands (e.g. through a webshop), you must comply with rules protecting your customer from the risks involved in long-distance sales. The most important rules are the business’ obligation to provide information and the customer's right to return what he or she purchased.
Obligation to provide information
You must provide clear information on:
- who you are
- what your customer buys exactly
- the price of the product or service and the payment method
- how you supply the purchase
- the legal reflection (cancellation) period
- the ordering process
You must always clearly confirm an order (in Dutch).
Do you sell products or services via telephone? Then you must comply with the rules for telesales.
Clear information on your company
Your website must provide full clarity about your company’s identity. On your website you must state:
- name and trade name
- address details
- your Netherlands Chamber of Commerce number (KVK nummer)
- VAT identification number (btw-id)
- contact details (e-mail address and telephone number)
- how you deal with complaints (and whether you are affiliated with a complaints board)
Your customer must be able to easily find this information on your website.
Clear information on products and prices
You must make clear exactly what you sell and what the costs are. Your customer should be able to read all the information before ordering, for instance:
- the features and characteristics of your product (in Dutch) such as size, colour, material model or type number etc, or service (in Dutch), for example what is needed to use the service, how often do you supply the service, what is included and excluded
- the price including VAT (btw) (you may only state prices excluding VAT if you do not sell to consumers)
- additional costs (for instance shipping costs)
- accepted payment methods
For the delivery of the products, delivery time and the risks you should fulfil at least the following requirements:
- you tell your customer upfront where, how and when you deliver
- you must deliver within 30 days or the time agreed
- if you fail to deliver on time your customer may cancel the purchase and you must reimburse all payments already made
- you bear the risk of loss or damages until the customer has received the product. If the customer chooses a transporter, the risk falls to the transporter.
In case of long-distance sales your customers are entitled to a reflection period (approval period) of at least 14 calendar days. The reflection period starts from the moment your customer has received the product.
Customers have the right to cancel their purchase during those 14 days. This reflection period is not applicable if you sell to businesses (B2B). In that case the general rules on purchase agreements apply. You state in your general terms and conditions which conditions are applicable if your business customer wants to cancel a purchase.
You must treat customers from other EU countries the same way as customers in your home (EU) country. If you fail to this, it may be considered geoblocking which is prohibited. Foreign customers from the EU must be able to use your website or app in the same way, with the same conditions and for the same price(s) as your national customer. This does not aply to all services. Services suchs as financial services, telephone subscriptions and healthcare are excluded from this rule.
Selling to businesses
These rules have been specially created to protect consumers and do not apply to businesses that sell products at distance to other businesses. This means among others that:
- these customers do not have a legal reflection period. You may offer this of course, but you state this in your general terms and conditions
- less guarantee rules apply than for consumers. You state the limited guarantee in your general terms and conditions
For B2B sales you have to observe the rules on agreements and purchase agreements of Books 6 and 7 of the Dutch Civil Code. The same rules that apply to businesses, also apply to foundations and associations.
Doing business with online platforms
Entrepreneurs doing business with online platforms are protected under the European regulation on platform-to-business practices. This includes all booking and comparing websites, webshops and appstores. The regulation also applies to companies that do not have their headquarters within the EU, but do operate there, such as Facebook, Google and Amazon. The new rules improve transparency and make it easier to resolve conflicts. They are as follows:
- Digital platforms must make sure their general terms and conditions are clear and easy to find
- Platforms must be open about how they order search results
- If platforms decide to remove a trader, they must be transparent about the reason why
- Platforms must be open about how they present their own products or services compared to other parties’
- Platforms must enable entrepreneurs to resolve a conflict quickly and for free
- Platforms should have external mediators that can be deployed to deal with conflicts
The last two rules do not apply to smaller platforms, that have fewer than 250 employees and a yearly turnover of less than 50 million euro.