Online shopping on the one hand makes cross-border purchases convenient but on the other hand generates consumer disputes, and handling disputes with cross-border online traders is a big challenge for consumers. With a view to enhancing consumer protection, the Consumer Council reached an agreement with the China Consumers' Association (CCA) yesterday (18 November) to join the “Online Shopping Consumer Protection Express Platform” scheme established by the CCA for building a closer partnership with the major online traders in Mainland China in handling cross-border consumer complaints.
The Council will soon formally join the “Online Shopping Consumer Protection Express Platform” scheme which comprises the major online traders in Mainland China, including Taobao and Jingdong, to allow these online traders to handle the complaints directly with the complainants to speed up the complaints handling process so that less controversial disputes can be resolved in a timely manner.
According to the scheme, if a consumer lodges a complaint meeting the stipulated criteria against an online trader participating in the programme, the Council will upload the relevant complaint details on the platform for further handling. The online trader concerned can obtain the complaint details from the system and contact the complainant directly for conciliation. If the case is resolved, the online trader will upload the resolution result on the system for record purpose. When the case cannot be resolved, the case will be referred back to the Consumer Council for further handling or record purpose.
To further enhance consumer protection, the collaboration agreement specifically incorporates privacy protection conditions to ensure that all personal particulars of the complainants are used only for complaint handling and related functions in accordance with the privacy protection legislations of Hong Kong and China so as to strengthen the personal data protection and privacy of the complainants.
The Council received 5,000 complaints regarding online shopping last year, and 3,672 complaints in the first 10 months this year. In recent years, it is common for Hong Kong consumers to shop online from the online traders in Mainland China, and to be involved in disputes about product quality, late deliveries, product returns, and so forth. The objective of this collaboration is to provide a more effective channel for handling consumer complaints related to the online traders in Mainland China, and to increase success rate in conciliation.