There’s a good chance that you, like many other consumers, start your online search for products on an online marketplace or platform. But how can you stay safe when shopping on these platforms and what are your rights?
Marketplaces and platforms often have a broad or very specific range of products and services and give you lots of different sellers to choose from. But how can you tell what your rights are as a consumer, where can you submit complaints or ask questions, and who is responsible for the warranty? More importantly: how can you be sure an online platform is safe?
Platforms and marketplaces feature many different sellers offering their products and services in one place, with examples including AliExpress, Amazon, bol.com and ebay. Through a single URL, you have access to multiple sellers of products and services.
Some platforms also sell products and/or services themselves, such as bol.com. They distinguish between the products and services they sell themselves and products and services that others sell through their platform. There are also platforms, such as marktplaats.nl, that do not sell anything themselves and only offer a platform to others.
Whether you buy directly from an e-retailer, from a seller on a platform or from the platform itself: everyone has to comply with the applicable rules and regulations. All these rules and regulations make up what we call Consumer Law, which can be found in sections 6:230m through 6:230s of the Dutch Civil Code. As a consumer, you are entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period and you have the right to return products you do not want.*
You might think that buying from a platform is the same as buying from a seller on a platform, but there are some differences. The main difference comes down to the handling of complaints, warranty and service. If you buy a product or service from a seller on a platform, they are who you should contact with any complaints, questions or requests. The platform is not responsible for the quality of the products offered by the seller and will therefore refer you to the seller.
Of course, this is not to say that platforms knowingly allow consumers to buy subpar products. Platforms often employ staff who are tasked with regularly reviewing sellers’ product ranges to prevent them from selling counterfeit or illicit goods, or from cashing in on scarcity (as we saw with face masks and hand disinfectant at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic) by selling in-demand products at sky-high rates.
To help you make a safe choice and offer consumers better protection when shopping online, Thuiswinkel.org has launched several new certification programs. These trustmarks help you tell exactly which retailers comply with all rules and regulations and also show you who will give you good service if you have a complaint.
This trustmark shows that the platform complies with all relevant rules and regulations for platforms and has its own complaint mediation procedures.
* The revocation right does not apply to tailored products or products that spoil quickly. These and some other products are excluded from the revocation right. Please read Article 10 of the General Terms and Conditions of Thuiswinkel.org.