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April 22, 2014

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Web shoppers bemoan missing refunds

COMPLAINTS about online shopping doubled in the month following the introduction of a revised consumer rights law, the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission said yesterday.

Between March 15 and April 14, the agency received about 3,600 complaints on the subject, or almost twice the number it processed from February 15 to March 14, it said.

Under new rules adopted on March 15, shoppers are entitled to a full refund on any item purchased online as long as it is returned within seven days of purchase. They are not obliged to give a reason.

Based on the complaints received, however, almost 20 percent of requests for refunds were rejected.

A woman surnamed Jin contacted the commission after her request for a refund on a Hisense TV set was rejected earlier this month, while a man surnamed Huang had a similar problem when he tried to return a Nikon camera he bought online.

The commission said it is investigating both cases and many more like them.

Despite the introduction of the law, difficulties remain with regard to its implementation.

Two of the main problems regard the establishment of start and end dates for the seven-day grace period, and reaching agreement on whether or not a product was returned in the same condition as it was sold.

Consumers should also note that selected items — including perishables, newspapers and magazines, bespoke items, audio-visual products that have been unwrapped and computer software — are excluded from the guaranteed refund scheme, the commission said.

The commission also advised people to discuss the company’s returns policy before committing to any purchases.


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