Taobao Mall postpones fee hike to ease protests
Updated: 2011-10-17 21:38
HANGZHOU - China's largest business-to-consumer platform, Taobao Mall, announced Monday that it will postpone raising its annual service fees and deposits for its registered sellers, after its small vendors protested the move.
The platform announced last Monday that it planned to charge higher service fees at the end of this year, triggering online protests carried out by tens of thousands of small vendors.
Taobao Mall intends to increase its annual service fees for businesses currently registered from 6,000 yuan ($942) to 30,000 or 60,000 yuan.
The platform's small vendors claim they will be disadvantaged under the new policy as only the larger businesses can easily afford the increase.
Jack Ma, president of Taobao Mall's parent company Alibaba Group, said the fee hike is part of the group's efforts to bring order to its online shopping platform. Customers have repeatedly complained about cases of fraud and the sale of counterfeit products in recent years, demanding the company take action.
He said Taobao Mall will not give into the demands of the small vendors. But he admitted that the new policy may not have been introduced in the right way.
According to Ma, the compulsory fixed sum deposit will be increased from 10,000 yuan to up to 150,000 yuan in 2012, but registered sellers only need to pay 50 percent of the required sum as Taobao Mall will pay for the rest.
He said Alibaba Group will also set aside 500 million yuan as a loan guarantee for small businesses that have difficulties gaining bank loans.
The group will also add 300 million yuan to its budget on marketing and technological service improvement, as a way to increase support for registered businesses.
Daniel Zhang, president of Taobao Mall, said he believed Taobao Mall revised the new policy in accordance with a request put forward by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
On Saturday night, the MOC said in an article posted on its official website that all parties concerned should stop disputing the move in order to stabilize prices and support small businesses.
While Taobao Mall should accept reasonable requests from merchandisers, the owners of small businesses should express their requests through legal means, the MOC said.
Taobao Mall is an offshoot of e-commerce firm Taobao, China's largest shopping website.
Commodities sold on Taobao Mall range from daily necessities such as bread and fruit to home appliances and cars.
Taobao Mall was set up in 2008 and hosts more than 400 million registered users, 50,000 registered businesses and 70,000 brands.