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Shipping Service Providers and Convenience Stores Can Help Consumers Deal with Refunds for Disputes Related to One-page Advertisements

Source:Department of Consumer Protection

Driven by the still persisting COVID-19 pandemic, the stay-at-home economy trend has continued to develop. Because of this, we have seen an increase in the number of disputes related to one-page advertisement. To ensure consumers’ rights and interests, the Executive Yuan's Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) and relevant authorities have helped shipping service providers and convenience store operators establish mechanisms to handle disputes relevant to cash on delivery, so that consumers can directly ask their money back from the shipping service provider or convenience store operator who collected their payment, or ask for relevant assistance in the case of disputes on packages delivered from abroad, where consumers are unable to contact the seller or the shipper for any reason.

The DCP stated that due to the pandemic there has been an increasing demand for online shopping. Consequently, there has been a rise in one-page advertisement on social media platforms or sites. Unfortunately, some fraudulent vendors have begun to take advantage of people’s need to prevent from the virus and started selling allegedly imported finger pulse oximeters, protective masks, protective clothing, and masks made in Taiwan. Once consumers realize that the products are not consistent with the advertisement or are clearly defective and want to return them, the sellers frequently disappear or stop replying to their messages. According to statistics, from May 19 (2021), when the nationwide epidemic alert was raised to level 3, to June 6, local authorities in Taiwan received a total of 201 consumer dispute complaints regarding one-page advertisements.

It is difficult for consumers to have their money refunded because most products sold in one-page advertisements are shipped from abroad and their sellers are from other countries. In addition, the quality of those sellers’ domestic agents varies greatly. To protect consumers’ rights and interests, last year (2020), the DCP and other relevant authorities asked shipping service providers to affix information of shippers (namely domestic agents) on packages in accordance with regulations for consumers’ reference. What’s more, the DCP and relevant authorities also coordinated with shipping service providers and convenience store operators to strengthen the mechanisms to handle disputes regarding cash on delivery and fully disclose information. Shipping service providers and convenience store operators should fulfill their corporate responsibility to implement these mechanisms. The practices of larger companies are summarized as follows:

    1. Shipping Service Providers:
  1. HCT Logistics and President Transnet: Goods can be returned for a refund within seven days of receipt. Otherwise, consumers have to ask their shipping service provider to contact the shipper for further handling.
  2. Taiwan Pelican Express: 1. For those who did not place an order, Taiwan Pelican Express can help them contact shippers for further handling within three days of receipt. If consumers do not get a response within seven days, a refund will be made. 2. For those who did place an order but received something different from what they ordered, Taiwan Pelican Express will help them contact the shipper for further handling.
    1. Convenience Store Operators: President Chain Store Corporation (0800-008711) and Taiwan FamilyMart (03-2550119) provide consumer service hotlines. Assigned employees receive and register cases to help consumers contact shippers for further handling.

Finally, the following are the DCP's reminders to consumers:

  1. Features of one-page advertisements to attract buyers: Emphasis on cash on delivery, prices are clearly lower than market prices, seven-day trial periods, limited time and limited quantity, and no physical contact number and address (see the attached picture). Consumers must pay attention before making any purchase and avoid buying goods from social media platforms to avoid scams.
  2. Upon receiving cash-on-delivery packages, unwrap the packages to check the items. If different or defective items are delivered, consumers may contact the shipper shown on the shipping order to request returns and refunds. If consumers cannot contact the shippers or the shippers respond in a passive way, consumers may contact shipping service providers or convenience store operators as soon as possible to ask them for help handling returns and refunds.
  3. For disputes that cannot be resolved, consumers may visit the DCP's website (https://DCP.ey.gov.tw) to file complaints and protect their own rights and interests.