The underwater stones of online shopping
Apparently, each of us at least once in his life was in a situation when he had to return the goods to the store. So from the person I never had the impression that I am glad to see you there.
Sellers and stores, in principle, can be understood, because their profits nobody likes to lose.
Fortunately, in a civilized world there are rules of law that regulate such issues. In our case, these norms are prescribed in the Law “On Protection of Consumer Rights”, which gives a fairly broad rights to consumers in the event of the purchase of goods by him. Thus, in particular, the goods can be rotated within 14 days for any reason, ask for it to be repaired, exchanged for a new one or refunded during the warranty period if a good defect was found in the product.
In case the store refuses to satisfy the legal requirements of the consumer, the latter may apply to the State Consumer Protection Service of Ukraine, which is obliged to consider the complaint and can check the offender. In principle, this system works, and a persistent consumer can defend his rights, which I tested on my own experience (a publication on how to protect the rights of consumers).
At the same time, Ukrainians are making more and more purchases on the Internet today. So let’s look at whether online purchasers have the same rights as those who buy offline. In theory, yes, because the law does not say anywhere that Internet buyers have less rights or discriminated in some other way. But in practice, very often buying poor-quality goods on the Internet, consumers are faced with the impossibility of returning it. And even if such a consumer addresses a complaint to public authorities, there comes an explanation that they can not find the offender and bring him to justice.
So, at the beginning of this year, acting Deputy Chairwoman of the State Committee for Consumer Goods and Consumer Protection Lilia Stierko showed disappointing statistics that they could only consider 1% of all complaints received at their address in 2016 and related to purchases made in online stores. In other cases, they were not able to find the seller and prove the fact of making a purchase of the goods. Why is this happening and is there a way to correct this situation somehow?
The problem, as often happens in our case, is the imperfection of the legislative framework. Thus, the Law “On E-Commerce” establishes clear information requirements that the seller is obliged to provide to customers in the implementation of electronic commerce (Article 7 of the Law). In particular, the seller must provide information about the full name of the legal entity or the surname, name, patronymic of the individual entrepreneur; the location of the legal entity or place of registration and the place of the actual residence of the sole trader; e-mail address and / or e-shop address, as well as information on the acceptance of the claim. It is precisely these data, in the event of problems with the product, to enable the consumer or controlling authorities to locate the seller. However, as sometimes joking, the rigidity of legislative requirements in Ukraine is offset by the lack of necessity for their implementation.
In other words, our legislation does not specify, but what to do if the seller does not fulfill his obligations and instead of the above information only indicates the number of mobile or email address, which later it is impossible to find or bring to justice.
According to the experts of the European Business Association, the draft law 6754, which was registered in the Parliament in the summer, could improve the situation. The said bill envisages amendments to the legislation on consumer protection and on e-commerce as regards the introduction of mechanisms for responding by state authorities in violation of the requirements for disclosure of information to be communicated to consumers. In particular, if the store does not provide an address for obtaining written complaints from consumers, the valid contact number and other information necessary for its identification and provided for by law, the State Committee for Consumer Goods and Consumer Protection may send an order to eliminate such violations and to place the necessary information on the store’s website. In case of non-compliance with such an order, the responsible public authority may decide to suspend access to the website of such a seller until the violation has been eliminated.
I hope that the introduction of such a mechanism will enable Ukrainians to better defend their rights and, finally, will force all online sellers to comply with legal requirements.
And as long as the lawmakers fail to adopt the relevant draft law, it seems to us that it is up to us to check the seller’s information before making an online purchase. In addition, it will not be in vain to ask which confirmation documents you will receive. So, if you buy appliances or electronics, then you must provide a fiscal receipt, which is a guarantee of warranty service. If you buy something else and the seller has the right not to provide you with a fiscal check, make sure you get another proof of purchase, such as a merchant receipt, and ask for warranty terms.
It will be useful for each of us to read the Law “On Consumer Rights Protection”, because it is in our interests to know our rights and be able to defend them.
Source: Novoe Vremia