Investigators have uncovered widespread “structural deception of consumers” during the sale of tulip bulbs at Amsterdam’s floating Flower Market (Bloemenmarkt) and at the ‘Bloembollenboulevard’ in Lisse. According to a probe commissioned together by the municipality of Amsterdam, Lisse, and the Royal General Association for Flower Bulb Culture (KAVB), of the tulip bulbs sold in Amsterdam and Lisse, only 1% (Amsterdam) and 2% (Lisse) actually bloom into flowers.

Reports also indicate that of the few tulip bulbs which do blossom, sometimes only one of the tulips matches the photo on the package and there were fewer bulbs than advertised.

KAVB general chairman René le Clercq says this type of fraud has existed for at least 20 years, causing millions of tourists to fall victim to structural deception. Clercq says, “The tulip is our national symbol and the bulb sector is an important sector for the Dutch economy. As an association, we think it is very unfortunate that scammers structurally mislead consumers and harm the image of the bulb sector.”

According to the Guardian, one flower market vendor acknowledged the ongoing fraud, saying, “There are indeed stalls here that sell rubbish. That is to everyone’s disadvantage because it portrays the whole flower market in a bad light.”

KAVB writes on its website that the three parties commissioned the tulip study because the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) – an independent guardian of consumer interests – required a “substantial signal” to take action against the long-reported tulip consumer deception. After receiving the results of the probe, KAVB says the three parties wrote ACM Tuesday requesting an investigation into and action against these abuses.

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