Business at the top of Google? NB!

The Dutch Consumer and Market Authority (ACM) warns against this

Why does a search result appear at the top?

Are you looking for a company for a particular service through search engines? Then the top 3 or 4 search results are usually ads. These are similar to the normal search results, but the difference is that the word ‘ad’ is printed in bold above. Just because these ads appear at the top of the search results does not mean that they are the best choice. Or that these companies are the most reliable. This means that companies have paid the search engine to be at the top of the list. Sometimes the ads are also below the normal search results. But even then, there is the word ‘advertising’ next to it.

Not everyone recognizes ads. And if someone is also busy, they often choose one of the best search results. ACM receives many reviews from consumers who have paid unnecessarily much money as a result. They searched for a company or (governmental) organization through a search engine and clicked on one of the top search results. It turned out to be an advertisement. They ended up with an unreliable company abusing their situation.

An ad is created this way, and search engine providers do not check the reliability of the ads. Companies that appear at the top can be well-meaning companies that provide reliable services. Unfortunately, many untrustworthy companies also use advertising.

Unreliable do-it-yourself companies

We often see that things go wrong with companies that offer help with urgent tasks, such as a plumber or electrician.

Some online brokers also make smart use of advertising. They will arrange something for you for a fee that you can also do yourself. For example, the application for health benefit or a registration certificate. Or cancel a subscription. Sometimes the advertising for such an intermediary is higher in the search results than the official website where you can arrange it yourself for free.

Are you looking for a company online for a particular service? Then ACM gives the following tips:

1 Recognize the ad

You can recognize this by the bold word ‘ad’ in the search results. Ads are often at the top of search results. Do not just choose the best company from the search results. Compare multiple sites. Search a little further.

2 Be critical

Take your time and compare. Check the following at several companies:

• Is there contact information, such as an address? Confirm that this address really does exist. For example, look this up with Google Maps.

• Does the company have a chamber of commerce number? And is this correct? Look up the company in the Chamber of Commerce’s trade register. Enter the company name under ‘Trade name’ and also the street. And then click on ‘Search the Trade Register’. NB! The fact that a company is registered does not always mean that it is reliable or provides good services.

• What does it cost? Usually, the company will provide a price or cost estimate on their website. Is it real cost? Compare this with prices from other companies. Does the company not want to make a price estimate at all? Then search for another company.

• See reviews. See complaint pages, such as www.klacht.nl, www.Complaints Kompas.nl or www.trustpilot.nl. Are there many complaints about the company, the website or the phone number used? Always see more reviews and more complaint pages.

3 Consultation with others

Have friends, family, or neighbors take a look at you before engaging a business: What service (s) does the company offer? Are the costs not too high? How reliable do they rate this company? They may have some tips for you.

Do you have a bad feeling about it? So go ahead and choose another company.

Do you think a company does not follow the rules?

ACM ConsuWijzer is the consumer counter for ACM, and then reports it to ACM ConsuWijzer

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