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November 9, 2010

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Beware the proxy buyer

THE Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests Protection is warning people of the risks involved with proxy purchases.

The commission said China has no laws to define proxy purchases and as a result, consumers may be cheated on price or quality.

"In fact, no licensed, legal 'proxy purchase' companies exist in the city," said Tang Jiansheng, deputy director of the commission's law department.

"Proxy purchase agencies, most of which are online, just make a verbal agreement with buyers. Consumers don't have much evidence to protect themselves," Tang said.

The usual business practice of proxy purchases is to buy things from overseas and then sell it to their clients at a higher price.

"Formal agencies should provide receipts," Tang said.

Zhang Xin, a mother of a nine-month-old baby, said she usually purchased infant formula from the United States through an agency based on, China's leading e-commerce platform. But after she received a can of baby formula of poor quality, she decided to stop such purchases.

"The baby formula wouldn't dissolve in water and it smelled strange," she said. "I think they filled the original can with fake powder. I asked him to show me the receipt for the original, but he refused."


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