Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Questions in parliament on direct debit procedures

Repeatedly questions keep coming up about the direct debit procedures in the Netherlands and their applications in the on-line world. See this reply by the Minister of Finance (questions by MP Kant).

The issue has popped up repeatedly at this log. Most interesting is the fact that some of the answers of the Minister of Finance are not fully adequate. Asked how long the period is within which an illegitimate direct debit can be undone, the Minister replies one year. This is incorrect. If anyone succeeds in getting money out of your account without the existence of a prior legal agreement, we call this either a non-obligatory payment or robbery. Anyone facilitating such a transaction (bank / merchant) is for at least five years responsible/liable as an accomplice. Such an organization should thus undo the unlawful direct debit or prove that a prior legal agreement exists.

Replies such as the one of today do not help MP's or the public understand the issue properly. Hopefully, If I find the time, I'll try to provide an overview of this topic one of these days. Because there is also a competition element in this debate (some bankers are allowed usage of direct debit procedures that are denied to Internet merchants).