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Online shoppers finding a lot to complain about

Updated: 2015-11-03 06:53
By Cao Yin (China Daily)

Online shoppers finding a lot to complain about

Workers at a local express company in Fuyang, Anhui province, sort packages for delivery. WANG BIAO/CHINA DAILY

Most complaints made by Chinese consumers last year were about online shopping, a report from China's top legislative body said on Monday.

The number of complaints and disputes related to shopping on the Internet rose sharply and the network has become a breeding ground for counterfeits, the report by a law enforcement team under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress said.

In 2014, Chinese industrial and commercial authorities dealt with 78,000 complaints concerning online shopping, up 356.6 percent year-on-year.

Of the total of 20,135 cases taken on by consumer associations, 92.3 percent concerned online purchases, the report said. Yan Junqi, vice-chairwoman of the NPC Standing Committee, said: "Ignoring consumers' rights and selling counterfeits are very prominent in the online shopping industry."

She revealed that just 58.7 percent of products sold online were found to be authentic during a random inspection in 2014 by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce.

With the boom in complaints, the number of disputes caused by online purchases also went up, she said.

Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court has handled 107 such disputes since the revised Chinese Consumer Protection Law took effect on March 15 last year, she said. A typical example, from Anhui province's financial website, described how a woman surnamed Xu paid a 2,000 yuan ($316) deposit before she bought sanitary ware priced 1,000 yuan cheaper online than she could find elsewhere.

But when it was delivered, Xu found it was poor quality and she was told the deposit could not be repaid because it was a sale product.

Yan suggested that the Supreme People's Court should clarify the revised law by the end of this year and appealed to consumer associations to play their role.

Qiu Baochang, head of the lawyers' group for the China Consumers' Association, said: "We are always overloaded with work since the revised law came into effect.

"We have asked officers to update their knowledge of the law and how the online industry works, including means of payment, to catch up with the pace at which e-commerce is developing."

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