In the Netherlands, almost everyone uses a mobile phone (cellphone). It is quite common not to have a fixed phone line anymore, and companies increasingly tend to use smartphones instead of land lines. If a mobile phone is not included in your employment contract, or you prefer to have a private number, you can easily get a Dutch mobile phone number. The Dutch phone market offers plenty of possibilities for every budget.
The mobile phone market in the Netherlands is very diverse. Almost all providers have a good reputation for reception, reliability and service, as tested by the Dutch Communication Ombudsman. Phone providers differ on types of coverage (4G vs 3G), speed, contracts, price rates (calls and SMS), international rates and customer services.
How to choose a provider?
Many mobile providers have shops in the city where you can get advice in person, while others only operate online. If you know which provider you want, you can contact them via the shop (or online, if you’re certain enough about your Dutch). If you’re not sure which provider to use or if you want more advice, it might be smart to ask Rotterdam Expat Centre or consult a colleague, an online intermediate party, or an independent phone store.
If you choose to use a prepaid SIM card in the Netherlands, you buy your phone credit in advance. You can use this phone credit to call, text and, if applicable, use data services. A prepaid SIM card is easily purchased from any mobile phone store; some supermarkets even offer them at the service desk. The advantage is that you have no obligation to buy credit, and the credit you do purchase is not subject to monthly time constraints. The disadvantage is that it is generally a bit more expensive to call with a prepaid SIM card. Prices may vary per provider.
A phone contract usually has better value for money, but you may have to deal with a fixed contract for one year or two years, depending on what you choose. In the Netherlands, many contracts include a new phone as part of your monthly fee. You can also opt for a SIM-only contract. This will make your monthly fees cheaper, but you will have to purchase your own phone. Contract fees are paid monthly and you can set up a direct debit through your bank. To arrange a contract, you have to provide your bank account details, identification (passport or ID) and your home address.
Regulations for providers
In the Netherlands, consumers are quite well protected by law. This is shown by the Door-to-Door Sales Act (Colportagewet), which places restrictions on consumer sales via phone, door-to-door sales and internet. This law gives consumers a 14-day cooling-off period, making it possible for you to change your mind within fourteen days after cutting a deal via internet, over the phone or with a door-to-door salesman, without any reasons given.
Consumers are also protected by the Wet van Dam, a piece of Dutch legislation that regulates the terms and conditions for consumers. The most important rule is that consumers can quit their contract any time after the termination date with only one month’s notice. It isn’t possible for a provider to renew your contract automatically (via the terms and conditions) for a longer period than one month unless you agree explicitly.