Dutch authority fines two furniture retailers for using fake discounts

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed fines reaching almost 250,000 euros on two online furniture retailers for using fake discounts.

ACM has imposed a fine of 130,000 euros on Dutch furniture retailer Leen Bakker and 112,500 euros on Danish furniture retailer JYSK, which used fake discounts. Leen Bakker has not acknowledged these violations, the ACM said, although JYSK has and “promised to mend their ways”.

The online stores offered multiple products with discounts on misleading ‘was-prices’. As a result, consumers were shown fake discounts. “In reality, the discount was lower or none was offered at all. As a consequence, consumers were misled,” the ACM said.

Since 1 January 2023, ACM has enforced compliance with the tightened rules on ‘was/now’ prices. The basic principle is that discounts can only be given on the lowest price for which a product was offered in the 30 days prior to that discount.

Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Member of the Board of ACM, added: “Price is one of the most important characteristics of a product on which consumers base their purchase decisions. Fake discounts make consumers think they are getting an interesting deal, even though that’s actually not the case. Consumers must be protected against this practice. The fines that we have imposed today are an important signal that this has to stop.”

Over the past few months, ACM has checked the discounts of online sellers in the clothing, consumer electronics, and bedding-store sectors. With the recent decision, ACM has fined the companies with the most violations. Over the next few months, ACM will hold warning conversations with all investigated companies that did not comply with the rules on ‘was/now’ prices.

“In the future, ACM will continue to investigate clear prices and fair discounts. It is important that consumers can rely on the price information they encounter,” ACM said. “Companies must be honest about the prices and discounts that they offer and, in that context, cannot mislead consumers. In addition, it is a form of unfair competition if companies with clear prices compete with companies with unclear prices.”

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