Backlash over online shopping promotions

Updated 2017-07-13 09:25:40 Shanghai Daily

Online shopping complaints about dodgy promotions have soared.

The city's consumer rights protection commission said various promotional activities in the first half of this year had sparked a wave of complaints.

It received 33,486 complaints over the six months, up 41 percent from the same period last year. In total, online shopping complaints accounted for 45 percent of all complaints the commission received in the first half of this year.

"There was a sharp increase of online shopping complaints with the creation of various promotional activities like 'online shopping festival' and discounts, but technology bugs, unfair rules and dishonest acts have led to a large number of group complaints," said Tang Jiansheng, deputy secretary-general of Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission.

Forced cancelation of orders, arbitrarily frozen accounts and invalid discount coupons drew the ire of many consumers, the commission said.

In May, the restaurant review website hosted a promotional event, offering a 25 yuan (US.67) discount for 50 yuan meal orders from diners if they held a China Citic Bank credit card. But the website then canceled already paid orders, triggering 81 complaints, according to the commission.

In February, the online shopping site hosted a promotion event of Tenma plastic storage boxes, but it later asked buyers to cancel their orders, saying the product had a "quality problem."However, it did not specify what the problem was, or provided any proof there was a problem, leading to 65 complaints.

In May, the retailer giant hosted a mid-year "deep discount activity," but the website unilaterally froze the accounts of those who successfully booked a shopping card, claiming an "activity rule violation" or a "system bug," causing 177 complaints.

Some businesses refused to allow the use of discount coupons even though they hadn't expired. Nike (China), for example, declined to deliver goods to consumers who used a membership gift card worth 200 yuan for exchange online, leading to 80 complaints.

In another case, 439 complaints were forwarded to the commission after consumers found discount coupons distributed by a Shanghai finance information service company for a "foodie carnival" activity on could not be used.

Such dishonest practices on promotions infringes consumers' rights, the commission said, urging businesses to be open and honest with consumers on the rules of their promotions and to fix system bugs to eliminate losses to buyers.

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