Marjolein: ‘Because of my zip code, I was not allowed to pay with a credit card at an online store’

Marjolein van Gelderen: “You give people fewer opportunities, purely because of the place where they live. I think that is injustice.”

Marjolein van Gelderen

Because her old washing machine broke down, Marjolein van Gelderen needed a new one. She opened the website of a large store, compared a few washing machines and decided to take the plunge. With that, the hardest part seemed to be over: making a choice between all those different types and sizes. “But that turned out not to be the case. I wanted to pay with my credit card, because it was a large purchase and it was immediately insured during the transport. But that was impossible,” she says.

To her surprise, she could only pay with iDEAL. There was no option to use the credit card. Must be a mistake, she thought, that is corrected by telephone. But on the phone, the web store told her that her address was on a blacklist. She was therefore not allowed to pay by credit card. “An exception was impossible. I couldn’t object either.”

Van Gelderen had to deal with the blacklists that are widely used by Dutch online stores and that everyone can have to deal with. Anyone who has forgotten to pay a bill will be put on such a list. That still sounds somewhat logical. But you can also end up on it if you live in the wrong neighborhood – a neighborhood where relatively many people don’t pay bills. Online stores make massive use of these lists. “It seems harmless, because you do have other payment options, such as iDEAL. But it is definitely a form of discrimination. You give people fewer opportunities, purely because of the place where they live. I think that is injustice.”

“At the time I lived in a deprived neighborhood with a bad name in Tiel. In our apartment block a number of people were undergoing debt restructuring. Most likely this was known to the web store and our entire neighborhood was put on a blacklist. But I had no debts at the time, not even a mortgage. So it was strange that we didn’t get all the payment options after all. I work a lot with data myself; That’s why I understood that we were on that blacklist in the first place. But I didn’t understand that there was no way to get rid of it again. There’s nothing you can do about it anymore.”

She decided to put it to the test and see if she could order from another large online store. It worked. This company apparently used a different list. It is therefore possible that you can order from one and not the other. And now? Van Gelderen no longer suffers from it. She moved to another neighborhood and was able to order everything again with her credit card and even on installment.

In the theme Your data and you, NEMO Kennislink will dive into the world of data and algorithms in the coming period. In response to Marjolein’s story, we wrote:

Four questions about algorithms

More articles will follow in the near future.

Read the ten personal experience stories from the theme ‘Your data and you’.

Melanie Kranenburg

Source: Kennislink by

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