• Sunday, Sep 27, 2020
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Upward trend in online shopping amid Covid-19 creates scopes for frauds

  • Published at 03:03 pm August 6th, 2020
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e-CAB wants the government to pass a law and set legal framework to control the e-commerce sites

The Covid-19 pandemic situation has diverted many consumers towards online shopping which has also created scopes for frauds to cheat people.

Complaints against online marketplaces have been piling up.

The complaints include selling low-quality products, delayed and complicated refunds and selling fake products.

The complaints doubled in numbers after the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP).  

To stop this menace, E-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) urged the government to immediately pass a law and legal framework to stop such fraudulent acts.

Fraud businesses active on Facebook

Mostly, the consumers are cheated on Facebook based online shopping pages, where frauds post product pictures with price and take money in advance for the product. Once they are successful in ripping off people, they close that page without providing the products customers paid for.

Sarmin Sohelia, a victim of such a con, shared her experience with fraud Facebook pages.

She wrote on e-commerce based online platform Women and e-Commerce forum (WE): “I bought some Eid dresses from a page called ‘Soc Susmita’. The page owner told me they will deliver my products through Sundarban Courier Service.”

“Since there was no cash on delivery facility through Sundarban Courier, I had to pay through a bKash account. Few days later after paying I got a call from Sundarban saying that ‘your parcel was delivered ’. But when I went to the courier they said that no products came and no one called from Sundarban. Later I found that the page owner blocked me and their number is off.”

Increasing complains against branded e-commerce sites

There are also numerous complaints against some branded e-commerce platforms which include daraz.com.bd, ajkerdeal.com, othoba.com, pickaboo.com and priyoShop.com and some more.

After visiting the Facebook pages of these platforms, this correspondent found a lot of complaints on the comment boxes, which later were either filtered or deleted.

A consumer named Zaman complained about not getting the same product he ordered from othoba.com. “I bought some products online because of the pandemic. Now I have to go to their office to return those products amid this pandemic as I did not receive the things I ordered. It looks like they are joking with us.”

Poor quality and refund policy

Afsan Chowdhury, a professor of Brac University, also suffered after buying things online, recently. On July 30, He posted on his Facebook page: “Is there any alternative to e-commerce platform daraz.com? They are selling fake products; I have been cheated every time I bought something from them.”

While speaking with Dhaka Tribune, he said he bought a pair of computer mouse which were not working. Earlier he bought two mosquito lamps, a bat and two other products which were all of low quality.

“I lost my faith in Daraz. I will not take the risk to go out to return these during this pandemic. Refunding is not the solution, they never control the quality of their products,” the professor added.

Md Bokhtiar Hossain Bikash from Rajshahi posted on Ajker Deal’s Facebook page a week ago that his product went for the refund process on June 21 he is yet to receive his refund.

Amin Al Rasheed, who works for a private TV channel, said he felt “cheated” when he bought a 40-inch LG TV television using his credit card and availed Equated Monthly Instalment (EMI) from Daraz. When his TV arrived, he found that the packaging, manual, remote control did not belong to LG brand and the picture quality of the TV was very low.

“I will have to continue paying the credit card EMI, even if they pay me later. But the question is who will compensate me for the mental disturbance I went through? How can an established company like Daraz do such things?” Rasheed wrote on Facebook.

While asked about so many complaints, Shayantani Twisha, head of communications at Daraz told that: “100% of the orders will never be processed accurately because of the dependency on so many factors, which is beyond the control of any e-commerce company.”

“According to our company rules, we give a refund within 10 to 14 days. As soon as we can reduce the dependency, we can ensure end to end control, which will drastically reduce the number of customer complaints,” she said.

“We usually send the money to the bank but it gets stuck there. The delay is caused by the bank when someone pays using a debit or a credit card. Bangladesh Bank has to take necessary steps to ease the rules of refund for products paid by cards,” Fahim Mashrur, founder of Ajker Deal said

New law and legal framework urged

Although there is a National Digital Commerce Policy, there is no regulatory framework formed for e-commerce. So e-CAB wants a new law to control e-commerce based marketplaces.

“We have a policy but need to have a law to control e-commerce sites. We have 1,200 members but there are more e-commerce merchants who are not members of the e-CAB. People will not trust us because of their fraudulent acts, so we need a legal framework,” Abdul Wahed Tomal, general secretary of e-CAB said.

Deputy Director of DNCRP Masum Arefin said 3,150 complaints were received after the Covid-19 outbreak, where most complaints are for online shopping.

“We cannot take any action since most of the online pages do not provide the right location and turn keep their mobile phones off. But we are working on fixing this issue. In this case a legal framework is needed,” Masum said.

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