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Attention should be paid to sellers when purchasing overseas goods online

Source:Department of Consumer Protection

In order to deal with consumer disputes arising from the online purchase of overseas goods by consumers on a "cash on delivery" basis, the Department of Consumer Protection, Executive Yuan, Taiwan (hereinafter referred to as the DCP) has assigned consumer ombudsmen , along with the General Administration of Highways, to check 29 consignment notes in four major carriers in Taiwan. The carriers have followed the Article 118 of the Transportation Industry Management Rules and put down in writing, on the consignment notes, the information of the shipper, which is responsible of collecting the overseas goods bought on the website overseas and delivering them to consumers in Taiwan. They also assisted consumers in handling relevant disputes.

In 2017, consumers bought overseas products via social media website advertisements (ex. Facebook and LINE), and the disputes arising from overseas goods sold by sellers in foreign countries totaled 986 cases. The DCP asked the General Administration of Highways to urge carriers in Taiwan to put down in writing the name, the address and the telephone of the shipper on the consignment notes, according to Article 118 of the Transportation Industry Management Rules. By doing so, consumers can immediately request that shippers suspend payment for the overseas business operators in order so to reduce their losses.
The DCP designated consumer ombudsmen along with the General Administration of Highways to conduct on-site inspections of overseas cargo handling sites of four major carriers in the country (Taiwan Pelican Express Co., President Transnet Corp., Kerry Tj Logistics Co. and HCT Logistics Co.). The contents of the inspection included whether the cargo consignment note is in compliance with the regulations and whether the transportation industry assists in handling consumer disputes. The results of the inspection are as follows: (detailed table)

1. A total of 29 consignment orders for goods, all of which were up to standard:
1.1 Pelican Express Co.: Five consignment orders with the same shipper.
1.2 President Transnet Corp., HCT Logistics Co. and Kerry Tj Logistics Co.: Upon checking the consignment slips of 24 items, all were found to be in line with the previous disclosure requirements
2. Assisting consumers in handling disputes:
2.1 President Transnet Corp. and the shipper have an agreement to deal with consumer disputes.
2.2 HCT Logistics Co. and Kerry Tj Logistics Co. assist in handling the returns of refunds by notifying shippers.
2.3 Pelican Express Co. only delivered goods and didn’t deal with payment (In last year's cases of appeals, there was no case about Pelican Express Co.).

The DCP appeals to consumers to pay attention to the following matters when purchasing overseas goods via the Internet:
1. Carefully choose sellers, choose trustworthy sellers, and understand that, in practice, handling cross-border disputes is not easy.
2. Pay attention to the content of advertising if the price of the product is extremely low, and the seller’s identity cannot be confirmed. Special attention should be paid if the quality and specifications of the product are in question.
3. Consider choosing a seller to whom you can pay by means of a third-party payment system.
4. In the event of a dispute, consumers should immediately report the dispute and appeal to the shipper (customs clearance agency) in Taiwan and the transporter, so that the business operator can come to terms with the timeliness of the matter and assist in handling or suspending payment to the overseas company.