Numerous complaints have already been lodged against the company with the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate and e-CAB
After various e-commerce platforms came under suspicion of embezzling consumer money and not refunding despite advanced payments, fingers are also now pointing towards PriyoShop (priyoshop.com) for doing the same.
Numerous complaints have already been lodged against the company with the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate and the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) also carrying out an investigation into the activities of the organization in light of the allegations.
Muhammad Abdul Wahed Tomal, the General Secretary of e-CaB, confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune.
He also said: “We did receive a few complaints against the platform, and we have even given them a warning. Hopefully, they will set the record straight, unlike other platforms.”
According to its website, PriyoShop is a registered member of both e-CAB and Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (Basis.)
Dhaka Tribune could not reach Basis President Syed Almas Kabir regarding the matter.
Similar to several other e-commerce platforms, PriyoShop had collected huge sums of advanced payments from consumers by offering lucrative discounts but did not deliver them.
Even in mid-September, the platform was seen offering 10-15% discounts on home appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, ovens as well as bikes.
It also offered 10-27% discounts on lifestyle products such as face masks, cleansing toners, night creams, and 29% on spices.
They also offered vouchers among other wide varieties of products on discounts.
Consumers who lodged complaints with the DNCRP said they did not receive products even after several months of ordering.
Lubna Jahan Ananya, a consumer of the platform, vented on a social media post: “While other platforms have at least been delivering products even after lengthy delays, PriyoShop seems to not deliver products at all.”
The consumer also claimed to have filed complaints with the national consumer rights as well as E-CAB and to have sent a letter to the WTO cell of the commerce ministry.
PriyoShop also seems to be not abiding by the introduced standard operating procedure (SOP) which dictates a maximum of ten days for platforms to deliver products.
Several consumers complained that although the platform had assured of delivering within 5-10 days, they did not.
Runa Akhter, who ordered Tk2,124 worth of goods (order number 415785) from the platform in July, only got Tk600 worth of products, with the rest never getting delivered.
“I tried calling them so many times and they have been constantly telling me they will deliver within the next week, but it has been several weeks already.
It was also reported that several consumers who reached out for refunds were told by the platform’s officials that they were unable to do so, citing shortage of funds in their accounts.
As of filing this report, PriyoShop did not respond to any queries made over the phone and mail by Dhaka Tribune.
However, Priyoshop Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashiqul Alam Khan denied the allegations to the media recently, saying: “Just come and experience our operations by yourself. We respond regularly to any complaints from customers. If someone places an order and does not receive the product, the money is automatically refunded. The whole process is automated and there is no chance of getting stuck for months.”
According to sources, there have been 626 complaints filed against PriyoShop from August 1, 2018 up to August of this year. Among them, 442 have been resolved following mediation by the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP).
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, SM Nazer Hossain, vice-president of Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said: “The government has formulated a policy to monitor the growing e-commerce sector, but there is no efficient mechanism to handle the current situation."
Recently, people have been duped and scammed through various so-called marketing campaigns, but the authorities do not have any dedicated division or body to look after the complaints, he noted.
Drawing attention to consumer interest, he sought for an immediate monitoring body and participation of deceived consumers.
A senior official of a law enforcement agency, seeking anonymity, told Dhaka Tribune: “We are tracking at least a dozen of e-commerce’s proprietorship and transactions. We are collecting information about money laundering and possible methods that could have been used for money transfer.”
There is no pressure from outside, legal actions will be taken accordingly based on the investigation. Countless customers have lost their money looking for a discount. Now many have filed cases with police, he added.
Noting the possibility of immigration and money laundering abroad, the official also said that there may be a possibility, but these e-commerce businessmen know all the loopholes of the existing system and unknown channels as well.
"Upon finishing the investigation we will be able to draw a conclusion about what happened to their money."
According to the National Department of Consumer Rights Protection, many complaints are being lodged against e-commerce companies.
A number of consumers have also lodged complaints against PriyaShop. Most of the complaints are about non-delivery of goods on time and non-refund of advance payment for products.
The department is trying to resolve the allegations through a process.
Masum Arefin, deputy director of DNCRP told Dhaka Tribune: “If any aggrieved consumer files any complaint with DNCRP, we scrutinize the matter and invite both parties for dialogue and depending on the gravity we fine according to the law.”
Citing the complaints, he said, our key job is to protect the interests of the customers. Based on the complaint and plaintiff negotiation process it gets resolved, countless consumers have benefitted from the DNCRP.
Zisan Bin Liaquat and DS Sourav contributed to this report