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March 15, 2013

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Tourism, finance 'deals' slammed

TRAVEL agencies, banks and insurance companies draw the most complaints for tricking consumers during promotions, a survey by the city's consumer rights protection watchdog showed yesterday.

The survey involving 1,600 residents in the city found that while 63 percent of respondents were participants in promotions, only 26 percent felt the promotions were "reliable."

The survey covered five areas - online shopping, supermarkets and department stores, banking and insurance, telecommunications and tourism.

Only 20 percent respondents were satisfied with tourism promotions.

Most criticized were shortened travel time, extra expenses, too much shopping and reduced accommodation standards, the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission said.

In online tourism promotions, most people complained that they were charged extra fees midway and were not provided with a contract or invoice. Some said travel agencies and tourist guides had no business licenses or certifications.

On some group purchasing websites, a tour to Hainan or Hong Kong is priced less than 100 yuan (US$16). Tourists participating were pressured to shop and hotels turned out to be shabby guest houses.

Banks and insurance companies also drew the ire of most respondents. Only 20 percent of those surveyed said they felt satisfied.

Those who promote financial products often exaggerated the rate of return, but never warned people of the risks. Consumers were usually trapped into opening bank accounts or buying financial products, respondents said.

Some 56 percent of respondents said they were annoyed with calls promoting insurance products. The content of insurance contracts was not easy to understand, they said.

Complaints about online shopping promotions included slow delivery, poor after-sales service, random cancellations, and low availability.

Supermarkets and department stores had the most favorable reviews, with more than 50 percent satisfied. But some said products were outdated and there was no real discount.

"Department stores usually raise prices first, and offer discounts later, which is often no good deal," said Jennifer Zhang, a local resident.


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