31 October 2021, by Victoria Séveno
The Dutch Consumers’ Association has said that online retailers take too much time to process returns and refund customers, and that many fail to reimburse shoppers for the total bill.
Many Dutch companies fail to comply with consumer rights laws
As part of an investigation, the Consumers’ Association carried out three separate orders at 200 different online stores, purchasing more than 600 items in total. Most of the companies involved in the study were based in the Netherlands, and had a quality assurance guarantee (i.e. Webshop Keumerk). Every single item was then returned within 14 days of the delivery date.
While there are clear refund rules for businesses that operate in the Netherlands, the Consumers’ Association found that a whopping 53 percent of the online retailers involved in their investigation failed to stick to them, refunding customers either “too late or too little.”
Companies had a number of excuses, most notably the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, for their transgressions, but Sandra Molenaar, director of the Consumers’ Association, said there was no excuse: “I find it extremely disappointing that the sector is unable to comply with the rules… Just pay on time and repay the correct amount. It’s not that hard, is it?”
Online retailers aren’t great at sticking to refund and returns rules
Consumer rights state that companies must issue refunds within 14 days of receiving the return, and that, while customers can be charged for the return costs, anyone who returns their full order must also be refunded for the delivery costs.
The Consumers’ Association found that 35 percent of businesses involved in their study were too late in issuing refunds for at least one out of the three orders. Kwantum took between 28 and 41 days to issue refunds, while Kruidvat, ICI PARIS XL, and Leen Bakker were also relatively slow.
Furthermore, the research found that 29 percent of companies, including BCC, de Bijenkorf, and Marks & Spencer, failed to reimburse the delivery costs for at least one out of the three orders, with 10 percent not refunding any delivery costs at all.