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September 15, 2010

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Law to rein in delivery agencies urged

LOCAL consumer protection watchdog announced yesterday that it has teamed up with 20 big Chinese cities, including Hong Kong and Macau, in urging the government to unveil a law banning delivery companies from violating consumer rights by using unfair "business rules."

The Shanghai Commission of Consumers' Rights and Interests Protection, leading the campaign, will submit a draft of the new regulation to the national lawmaking committee. The rule is expected to effectively curb delivery companies bad practices.

Many of the current business rules set up by delivery companies directly violate the terms of consumer protection laws, local law experts say. So far, however, no specific stipulations have been enacted to regulate business in the delivery industry.

"For example, almost all delivery companies say in their contract that the upper limit of compensation is 500 yuan (US$71), which is absolutely unfair to consumers," said Fu Dingsheng, a professor with the East China University of Political Science and Law.

The commission cited a case yesterday. An 80-year-old local writer sent manuscripts he had written over several years to a publishing house, but the manuscripts were lost during delivery. The express delivery company was only willing to pay 500 yuan as compensation.

The writer filed a lawsuit against the company, but as there is no law regulating the industry, his plea was dismissed.

"Usually the terms of the contract reduce the companies' liabilities and also violate consumers' rights," said Fu.

The commission said that consumers must learn to protect themselves. "We urge consumers to examine the goods before signing any contract," said Zhao Jiaoli, secretary general of the commission. "If the company refuses the allow the examination, consumers can complain to us."


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