Business / Industries

Online shopping sees surge in consumer complaints

By Wang Zhuoqiong ( Updated: 2015-03-12 20:49

Consumer complaints, particularly those related to online shopping, have surged to a five-year high in China, the market regulator said on Thursday.

According to officials from the State Administration for Industry & Commerce, the number of complaints filed by consumers till date have seen a 14.3 percent year-on-year growth, and totaled some 1.26 million cases.

Online shopping complaints have increased more than three times the number a year ago. Complaints about online shopping rose to 77,800, up 356 percent year-on-year, involving a value of 31.65 million yuan ($5.10 million), the SAIC said in the runup to March 15, the World Consumer Rights Day.

Complaints about contracts, after-sales services and quality issues accounted for 28.4 percent, 22.7 percent and 21.7 percent of the total, it said.

About 82.1 percent of the complaints about online trade involved merchandise, with the rest belonging to the services category. Cell phones, clothing, shoes and accessories, televisions and computers were the top categories for complaints.

Last year, consumers filed about 705,900 complaints about merchandise, or 60.7 percent of the overall complaints. Consumer goods, telecommunication, home appliances, transportation and food were the top five categories that saw the most complaints.

About 456,200 complaints were about shopping services, such as telecom services, residential services, Internet services and repair and maintenance services.

The SAIC also said on Wednesday that the onus was on companies to offer compensation and take steps to resolve the consumer disputes. It said consumers can take steps to safeguard their rights, if the same were hurt during purchases, or when using products or availing services from companies.

In cases involving online shopping, consumers who have completed the transaction using e-commerce platforms can ask sellers or service providers for compensation. If the online trading platforms cannot provide the real name/credentials of sellers or service providers, consumers can seek compensation from the online platforms.

Consumers buying goods online will be able to return them within seven days without having to provide a reason for doing so, even if they are opened, and will have the right to a full refund, under new government regulations.

The SAIC also announced new changes to industry and commerce regulations and said the same are likely to come into effect from March 15.

Under the new regulations, online retailers who refuse to refund money or delay in doing so are liable to fines of up to 500,000 yuan, the SAIC said.

The current law requires that goods bought online be returned within seven days without exception, but it does not specify whether this includes items that have been opened.

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