Friday, January 13, 2017

Klachtenkompas complaint

I spent a couple of postings about the worrisome state of consumer rights in The Netherlands, and the way Apple cs. makes clever use of this to takes people's money. One of the steps I have not mentioned yet, is registering a complaint with Klachtenkompas, a site of the Consumentenbond.

Klachtenkompas promotes itself as a facility where you can issue a complaint, after which the relevant company takes action to solve your problem. As is often the case, reality is less idyllic: Klachtenkompas simply forwards your complaint, and relays the company's response, if any, back to you. Companies like Apple, which is expert in ignoring customer complaints, typically ignore emails from Klachtenkompas, so you might as well trash the complaint yourself: Klachtenkompas takes no action at all.

I did complain about Klachtenkompas itself, as its website is misleading, but the Consumentenbond, who is all too eager to publicly scold companies for ignoring complaints, remained silent. One employee mentioned that she seemed to remember about revamping the site, and her colleagues might choose to reword the relevant phrases, but she was not clear about a time frame in which things were going to be fixed. Six months after, nothing had changed.

I took it one step further, and registered a complaint with the Stichting Reclame Code (SRC), a Dutch institute which sees to it that commercials and advertisements conform to the rules as recorded in the Nederlandse Reclame Code. The SRC protocol allows the defendant to respond to the complaint, as well as the plaintiff to respond to that response, so the procedure took a while.

The Consumentenbond defended itself by referring to its terms of use, where they state that a successful solution cannot be guaranteed. In my response, I stressed this is a little weak for an organization that has more than once reprimanded companies for hiding aggravating conditions in their small print.

The SRC declared my complaint founded, and advised the Consumentenbond to stop promoting their Klachtenkompas in the contested wording (File 2016/00841 ). Although, the SRC is not authorised to issue a verdict with binding force, or to impose a penalty, its verdicts are usually seen as authoritative.

The Consumentenbond changed the Klachtenkompas site the same day, which lead to user complaints about inaccessible accounts and complaints disappearing. It shows all the signs of a haphazard redesign, with the cheap slogan "Met klachtenkompas sta je sterker" ("You are stronger with klachtenkompas"). It looks tongue-in-cheek but, as far as I can tell, does not break any rules of conduct.

No comments: