Cheap designer clothes or attractive technology offers – dubious online stores are difficult to recognize at first glance. One feature is pre-payment.
“The prepaid goods then don’t arrive at all or consumers get a different, inferior product that is blatantly different from the one they ordered. But: the money is gone,” says AK consumer protector Daniela Zimmer.
ÖIAT was commissioned by AK to examine examples of advertisements on four selected social platforms – Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Google. The result shows: one hour of research per platform was enough to come across ads for three online stores each. Watchlist Internet warns against these portals. Trial orders were placed and returns attempted at these dropshipping stores.
Two orders did not arrive
Of twelve orders, in two cases no delivery arrived despite payment. Twice the ordered clothing did not arrive: a T-shirt was delivered that was visually very different from the one ordered. A jacket arrived that was supposed to have cords and gold buttons on it. In fact, everything was only printed on it. In the other eight cases, the product quality was inferior.
“With the delivered goods, no withdrawal was possible. For example, the return address was missing, there was no response to return inquiries or the return was associated with high return costs and customs duties. To get back the purchase price partly or completely is mostly impossible. Even legally regulated warranty claims cannot be enforced,” says Zimmer.
What is at stake with dubious traders
What consumers “bloom” if you go dubious dropshipping dealers in the net, which deliver directly from the Asian region:
Different as ordered: The goods are inferior and sometimes deviate greatly from the advertised product.
Please wait: There are sometimes unusually long delivery times or delivery failures.
Expensive returns: Returns are difficult and expensive – often high return costs to non-European countries, customs fees and usually no refund of the purchase price.
No rights: Providers violate European consumer protection law, enforcement of rights practically impossible
AK demands more consumer protection against fake stores
The Chamber of Labor demands that online platforms or advertising service providers that play out advertisements must check the information on advertising customers. A label such as “Verified advertising customer” is conceivable. If there are indications of dubious offers, platforms or the advertising service providers behind them should not be allowed to display the advertising.
Initiatives such as Watchlist Internet should be linked EU-wide via a network, financed by the EU and supported by an EU coordinator. Watchlist Internet – an Austrian information platform – publishes daily warnings about current online traps.
Dubious traders from Asia
In addition, web stores will have to centrally indicate where the goods are shipped from and how returns are handled. Dropshipping, i.e. sending goods that the seller does not have in stock himself, is widespread and basically unproblematic. However, the AK survey reveals problems with dubious dropshipping merchants who have their goods delivered directly from Asia – this is often concealed on the website of the online stores.
- sources: APA and vienna.at/picture:pixabay.com
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