Scams resulting from one-page advertisements are very common. To protect consumers' rights and interests, the Department of Consumer Protection of the Executive Yuan (hereinafter referred to as the DCP) asked the Directorate General of Highways to supervise shipping providers to ensure that packages contain information that helps recipients to identify the packages such as the shipper's name, address, and phone number. The DCP would also help shipping providers to reinforce their mechanisms to handle disputes on cash on delivery so that consumers could successfully receive their money back in the case of disputes on packages delivered from abroad.
The DCP stated that one-page advertisements are rife on social media platforms or portal sites. These advertisements contain exaggerated, false information or images of authorized suppliers in Taiwan or celebrities to lure consumers to place an order. When consumers want to return products due to different or clearly defective items delivered, they end up being ghosted by the sellers or receiving late replies. Moreover, there are unscrupulous suppliers who seem to commit fraud by sending cash-on-delivery packages to random recipients who may sign for the unexpected packages and accept paying for them due to the relatively small amount of money involved.
The DCP convened two meetings and invited representatives from the Directorate General of Highways and shipping providers to discuss countermeasures. Matters that shipping providers should comply with are as follows:
- Provide shipper's information and ensure the correctness of information in accordance with Article 118 of the Regulation of Motor Carrier Management.
- Review and strengthen the mechanism to handle disputes on cash on delivery and fully disclose the information.
Regarding the aforementioned "strengthening the mechanism to handle disputes on cash on delivery," all shipping providers are willing to cooperate. In general, several shipping providers such as HCT Logistics, Tong Ying Transportation, Global Express, President Transnet, and Taiwan Pelican Express have already set up different mechanisms to handle disputes on packages delivered from abroad. The maximum amount of time that a company will accept a dispute from the consumer is seven days after delivery. Among these shipping providers, President Transnet has pledged to use the seven-day dispute period starting from 2021. KERRY TJ and KERRY EXPRESS have started planning to change contracts and are expected to establish refund mechanisms in the first quarter of 2021. SF EXPRESS will not directly refund the money. Instead, the company will help consumers contact shippers for refunds and follow the progress regularly. Relevant information is provided on the website of each company.
The DCP stated that online sellers, in principle, should take responsibility when disputes relating to online purchases occur. However, it is difficult for shoppers to have their money refunded because scammers who use one-page advertisements are from other countries or the quality of domestic agents (e.g., consolidation service providers) varies. Therefore, the DCP recognizes the willingness of shipping providers who engage in cash on delivery to eradicate scams and protect domestic consumers by directly refunding money or offering relevant assistance. The DCP has urged shipping providers to strengthen their verification mechanisms in order to screen shippers with poor reputations and asked them not to work with unethical providers. For cash on delivery services offered at convenience stores, the Ministry of Economic Affairs has been in charge of this part.
Finally, the following is the DCP's reminders to consumers:
- Features of one-page advertisements to attract buyers: emphasizing on cash on delivery; offering prices significantly lower than market prices; claiming free return within 7 days and a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the purchase; limited time or quantity offers with a never-ending sales countdown; containing words in unusual Chinese phonetics in website addresses; using terms spoken in China; and leaving no physical contact number and address. Consumers must pay attention before making any purchase or may search for seller feedback to avoid scams.
- It is not easy to handle cases involving cross-border disputes, and social media platforms that are full of all kinds of information may not be safe nor reliable. When shopping online, consumers are advised to choose shopping websites that are either well-known in Taiwan or with good reputations. Consumers may choose third-party payment services to complete their purchases at ease.
- Upon receiving cash-on-delivery packages, unwrap the packages to check the items. If different or defective items are delivered, consumers may contact the shippers shown on the shipping order to request returns and refunds or ask the shipping providers for help to deal with the return and refund.
- For disputes that cannot be resolved, consumers may visit the DCP's website (https://cpc.ey.gov.tw) to file complaints and protect their own rights and interests.