Dutch camper traders threaten customers over bad reviews; hotline launched

Dutch campers club NKC launched a special hotline for customers after receiving reports that several people were threatened by camper companies after placing a bad review online. Some customers report being intimidated, threatened with lawsuits or even fines of up to 5 thousand euros, the Volkskrant reports. 

The problems started when the NKC launced a business directory on its website during the spring. There camper owners could post reviews. "It must offer customers an overview of the camper market and help them share experiences. It is intended as an independent platform. But after the launch, we received phone calls from companies who asked if we could filter out the negative reactions", Sven Schutte, manager of marketing and communications at NKC, said to the newspaper. Some of the review writers also called. "They regretted their review. Or they did not feel good about it anymore. Often it appeared that they were approached by a camper trader who threatened legal action if the review was not removed."

Some companies also added an extra paragraph to their terms and conditions, according to Schutte. It says that customers are not allowed to post negative comments on social media in any way. If they do, they face a fine of 5 thousand euros. According to a lawyer the NKC consulted on this claus, it has no legal basis. "But it is experienced as intimidating", Schutte said.

"And that's why we now establised a hotline", Schutte said to the newspaper. "So that we can get a better picture of which camper companies are guilty of this behavior." According to Schutte, camper companies still have to get used to bad reviews on the internet. "It is really a new phenomenon [in the industry], such a platform to impmrove service is still unknown to camper dealers."

The NKC hopes that the hotline will help them quickly address companies on bad behavior. The club is also considering a blacklist.