Watch out, say duped customer seeking redress from Taobao

Updated: 2011-12-02 10:04

By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)

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Watch out, say duped customer seeking redress from Taobao

The headquarters of in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo / China Daily] 

GUANGZHOU - Wang Hui could hardly believe the Casio watch he purchased online would turn out to be a fake.

The Guangzhou resident spent 599 yuan ($95) in late October to buy a watch that carried a price tag of 2,282 yuan in a local Casio outlet from an online store in Taobao Mall, China's largest business-to-consumer platform run by Alibaba.

"In the beginning, I felt happy at the thought of buying a watch from a reputed international brand at such a low price," Wang said.

But as soon as he received the product, Wang immediately knew he had been deceived.

"There was an unpleasant odor as soon as I opened the packaging. The color had faded from the instruction manual," he said.

When Wang brought the watch to a Casio outlet in Guangzhou's Yuexiu district, he was told it was a fake.

After Wang spoke to the customer service center of Taobao Mall to seek a refund the next day, he was told by a staff member that he would need to get certificates from the local quality inspection department, the administration of industry and commerce and Casio authorities to prove his claim.

"The shops sell fake products because they assume that consumers will not go to the length of collecting evidence and invest the money, energy and time required to get the certificates to seek compensation," Wang added.

Wang is not alone. Insiders said the shop in question in Taobao Mall has sold more than 1,500 fake watches valued at 898,500 yuan online in about an hour. But only 200 victims have decided to join Wang to seek compensation.

Taobao Mall promised to use the online watch store's deposit money to refund and compensate all buyers who ended up with a fake.

The shop has been blacklisted and will be dropped from the online shopping portal once the compensation has been distributed.

Tang Yin, an associate professor of marketing specialty from the management school of Guangzhou-based Jinan University, said Taobao Mall's management does have loopholes and that it lacks policies and rules to manage and supervise the shops.

"Concrete and effective measures should be introduced to enhance the management and supervision of online suppliers and sellers to help regain the confidence of the growing number of online shoppers," Tang said.

"And those who sell fake products online should be seriously punished according to the laws and relevant regulations."

Tang added that as e-commerce developed fast in China, it was normal for some problems to occur.

"Taobao Mall sets a very low threshold for its shops to sell their products online," said Ma Ling, an employee from Guangzhou Rural Commercial Bank who visited Taobao often.

"Taobao Mall should strengthen management and expand supervision on its online shops, instead of merely collecting annual fees and operating charges," she said.

Ma hoped Taobao Mall would give more thought to protecting the legal rights of online shoppers to create a safe online shopping environment.

According to statistics from Internet Society of China, e-commerce transactions in the country will be worth 18 trillion yuan in 2015, tripling their value in 2010.

And on Nov 11, Singles' Day, shop owners on Taobao secured orders worth 3.36 billion yuan, more than triple the amount made the previous year.

Tan Xuezhen contributed to this story.

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