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November 15, 2013

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Single’s Day ‘bargains’ singularly unimpressive

The online shopping spree on Single’s Day has generated an outbreak of complaints, the city’s consumer rights watchdog said yesterday.

Online retailers drew the ire of consumers for canceling orders after shoppers successfully completed transactions, denying promised discounts or offering the wrong products, according to the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission.

Some offered products with quality problems or items which did not match what was claimed in promotions, said the commission.

It had received 42 complaints regarding online shopping for Single’s Day as of noon yesterday, and expects the number of complaints will surge as more shoppers receive their goods.

A consumer surnamed Cao said he bought headphones from on Monday at a big discount, with the transaction showing as successful, and with the money paid.

But the company later canceled the order and negotiations with customer services personnel have failed, complained Cao.

A shopper surnamed Li from Hongkou District said he bought a fire engine toy on Monday from the online outlet of Suning, China’s largest home appliances retailer.

The business promised a 100 yuan (US$16.12) discount if an order reached 199 yuan.

But when it came to paying, Li’s total showed that he should still pay the original price with no discount.

Suning claimed that it was an unusual order and there were many factors involved.

It said consumer services staff are dealing with the complaint.

Wang Fang, deputy director of the complaint consultation division of the commission, said it is a major problem that businesses cancel orders seemingly at a whim, claiming that a price is unusual or no products are available.

The commission said it is talking with businesses and consumers in an effort to mediate.

Lawyer Jin Song said such practices may constitute breach of contract, as a contract is formed after consumers place an order and pay for it.

But it is hard for consumers to safeguard their rights in such cases, Jin said.

Chinese shoppers spent billions of yuan online on Monday, taking advantage of discounts offered on Single’s Day, a festival seized on by retailers to increase sales.

It took just 13 hours for sales on just two online sites, Taobao and Tmall, to fly past last year’s overall total of 19.1 billion yuan.

The final figure reached an astonishing 35.02 billion yuan as hundreds of thousands of consumers rushed to buy clothes, furniture and home decor items at Single’s Day discount prices.



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