named Best Dutch Government Website 2011 named Best Dutch Government Website 2011

For the second consecutive year, has been voted ‘Best Government Website 2011,’ the organization behind the ‘Website of the Year’ contest, the most important website contest, announced on November 10. Pauline Bijlenga, head of consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, reacts: ‘This years marks ConsuWijzer’s five-year anniversary. So far, the site has had approximately 8 million hits. We consider this prize awarded by the Dutch public to be our crowning accomplishment.’

ConsuWijzer actively helps consumers by offering them advice, either by phone or by email, and has already done so approximately half a million times in five years. When visiting ConsuWijzer’s website, consumers can find, for example, sample complaint letters. In 2011, roughly 500,000 letters were downloaded. In addition, the website offers sample scripts (to help consumers with conversations with store employees), as well as easy-to-understand legal information. In five years, the website has seen its number of hits increase from half a million to 2.2 million a year. As more and more information, suggestions, and tools have become available online, the number of phone calls has seen a gradual decline, from 83,000 five years ago to 57,000 last year.

Each year, ConsuWijzer receives roughly 100,000 questions and complaints from consumers about their rights. These are valuable indications for the three authorities behind ConsuWijzer: the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa), the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands (OPTA), and the Netherlands Consumer Authority. They have the power to take action if businesses fail to comply with regulations, for example, by imposing fines. On January 1, 2013, these three authorities will merge into a single authority: the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

The ‘Website of the Year’ contest is the largest and most important online prize awarded by the Dutch public. Everyone was invited to evaluate their favorite websites across 21 categories on aspects such as contents, navigation, design, and recommendation likelihood. The website with the highest quality score wins the Best Website of the Year Award. The award for Most Popular Website goes to the website with the most votes.

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