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Unfair trading practices

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

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Do you sell goods or provide services to consumers in the Netherlands? You must act fairly. You should give your customer enough information and time to make a decision to buy a product or service. You are not allowed to use unfair trading practices. Unfair trading practices are misleading or aggressive selling actions. This applies in all EU countries.

Examples of unfair trading practices

Examples of unfair trading practices are:

  • you offer incorrect or incomplete information on the products or services you offer
  • you offer enticements which turn out not to be available
  • you offer 'free' products for which customers ultimately have to pay
  • you quote prices that do not include all additional charges or costs
  • you use a false certificate, quality mark, or similar label, or you use it without permission to do so
  • you use (online) consumer reviews and endorsements that are false
  • you are pushy and put pressure on your customer to buy something

You can find more information in the Unfair Trading Practices Act (Wet oneerlijke handelspraktijken, in Dutch) and in the European directive concerning unfair commercial practices.

Cancel purchase or fine

Did you mislead your customer, or did you make use of aggressive commercial practices? Your customer can cancel the purchase (annul the concluded agreement). If you violate the rules, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) can impose a fine of up to €900,000. If it concerns financial products or services, fines may be imposed by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM).

Unfair trading practices in agriculture

Are you a food supplier? For instance a farmer (livestock or horticulture) or fisherman? Unfair trading practices in the agricultural chain and the food supply chain are prohibited (in Dutch). Large customers (for example supermarkets) cannot:

  • pay you too late
  • cancel an order too late
  • make you pay for wastage

This only applies if your customer is bigger than your company. This protection is arranged for in the Unfair trading practices act agricultural and food supply chain (Wet oneerlijke handelspraktijken landbouw- en voedselvoorzieningsketen, Wet OHP). If a customer does not keep to the rules of this act, you can report a violation to the ACM (in Dutch). You can also report foreign customers. If you are established outside the Netherlands, but inside the EU, you can report to the ACM or your national supervisory authority.

Unfair competition by the government

The government may compete with you as an entrepreneur. This competition cannot be unfair. In order to prevent unfair competition here, they must follow rules of conduct (in Dutch). Do you believe the government does not keep to the rules against unfair competition? You can file a complaint with the responsible government organisation. If you cannot work it out together, you can file your complaint with the ACM. They can conduct an investigation into the alleged unfair competition. If it shows the government organisation breaking the law, the ACM can impose a penalty.

Do you have to deal with obstacles as a result of incorrectly applied European rules by governmental entities? You can make a complaint to the SOLVIT Centre.

Unfair trading practices outside the European Union

Do you encounter unfair trading practices outside the European Union? You can report this to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by email.

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This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
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