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If you are involved in the long-distance selling of products or services in the Netherlands (e.g. through a webshop or by telephone, fax or post), you must comply with the rules of Book 7 of the Dutch Civil Code (Burgerlijk Wetboek). 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
Your website must provide full clarity about your company’s identity. Besides your address details, you state your Netherlands Chamber of Commerce number and VAT identification number. You must also inform your customers about the price and features of the product, the method of payment and the delivery details. 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.
If you and your customer have a dispute and you are not able to resolve it, your customer can submit a complaint to the Webshop Disputes Committee (Geschillencommissie Webshop). For this, you must be affiliated with the Foundation Webshop Trustmark (Stichting Webshop Keurmerk, SWK). If your web shop is a member of the Dutch Homeshopping Association (Nederlandse Thuiswinkel Organisatie, Thuiswinkel.org), then your customer can submit his complaint to the Homeshopping Disputes Committee (Geschillencommissie Thuiswinkel). If your shop is registered with the Dutch Foundation for Consumer Complaints Boards (De Geschillencommissie), both disputes committees are available to your customers.
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. In that case, they 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.