China / Society

Online shopping giant looks to punish nuisance sellers

By Cao Yin ( Updated: 2016-07-14 15:15

A guideline issued by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has helped prevent buyers being harassed if they give sellers a negative review on its online shopping platform Taobao, the company said in a statement on Thursday. 

The guideline, which has been in place since June, aims to protect the rights of customers who have been sent spam text messages or harassed on the telephone after leaving negative reviews in the past, the statement said.

If a customer reports such behavior, officials from the company are now authorized to search through historical purchase data to collect evidence and assess the seriousness of the complaint, according to the guideline. 

Zong Bu, a senior employee with the company, said software that allows nuisance callers to repeatedly dial other people's numbers has existed for a long time, and is regarded a "disease" in the industry. 

There is no way for buyers to know who has called them if sellers use such software, as callers change their identities all the time, the company's statement said. 

"Now, with this new guideline, we can use big data and previous comments from other buyers to integrate sellers' information and establish rules in the online purchase environment," Zong said. 

So far, the company has collected evidence against 66 sellers, 14 of whom have been punished for serious breaches of trust, the statement said.

In one case, a woman surnamed Gao from Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan province, found the underwear she had ordered was damaged in transit, so she left a dissatisfied comment on Taobao. 

Less than eight minutes after the comment was published online, Gao received a call from an unknown number and the caller said he had Gao's home address.

Over the following two days, Gao's information was registered on other websites and she received more than 30 spam text messages. 

She registered a complaint with Taobao on June 19, and the company found the seller had been reported for similar behavior in the past. 

Following an investigation, the seller had a negative 12 applied to his trust score on the website, the company said. 

The maximum score reduction for online sellers is 48 and the harshest punishment is for sellers to have their accounts shut down.

Zong said that the new guideline, as well as the company's evaluation rules, aim to make the online purchase environment better and more civilized.

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