Test-Aankoop will research in Belgium whether products have been designed in such a way that they give error messages after a while, despite the lack of an actual defect.
This system would force consumers to buy a new appliance or to get expensive repairs, with little or no actual repairs.
"Think about a washing machine pump, which costs 3 euro, but to get it fixed would cost up to 120 euro. Companies also make sure their parts are not readily available, like for the Medion brand sold by Aldi. That forces you to bring the appliance to them", German company economist Stefan Schridde said. He founded a consumer organization a few years ago to fight these situations.
Test-Aankoop will now investigate whether these tactics are also present in Belgium. "We suspect that some appliances do not work as long as they used to a few years back", Jorge Peeters (head of products and services) told De Morgen. "It is difficult to prove, but we will perform a test with washing machines this year and on we will collaborate with our European colleagues on this topic.