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Web scammers

E-commerce tops the sector with the most complaints received by the National Consumer Complaints Centre for two consecutive years. As more Malaysians turn to the Internet to purchase goods and services, there is a pressing need for an improved legal framework to protect their rights.

ONLINE shoppers, beware. The e-commerce sector continues to top the list of complaints by Malaysian consumers, with the National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) finding that an increasing number of Malaysians are falling victim to unscrupulous online merchants.
These are mainly products offered by the merchants or direct-sellers who advertise them on social networking sites and online shopping platforms, which lack the consumer protection clout accorded by the industry.
NCCC’s Annual Consumer Complaints Report 2015 stated that 7,692 complaints were lodged with NCCC in 2015, amounting to a loss of RM4 million. In 2014, there were 7,641 complaints.
NCCC legal and policy executive Shabana Naser Ahmad says the e-commerce sector tops the total number of consumer complaints from a total of 23 sectors for two consecutive years.
Referring to NCCC’s Annual Consumer Complaints Report 2015, she says online scamming is one of the three top complaints, other than product delivery and quality.
In the case of online scams, she says, scammers set up fake websites offering goods and services.
“These people usually advertise their products on social media and instant messaging service. They claim to be legitimate online sellers and dupe consumers into making payments into personal bank accounts in order to receive the products and services.”
“Once payments are made, the scammers disappear without a trace. Even the websites and phone numbers are no longer available.”
Besides being victims of online scamming, many consumers also claim to be given the runaround and empty promises when it comes to product delivery, with some products taking more than a month to arrive.
On product quality, she says, more and more consumers who purchase their products online are not satisfied with them.
“We have received numerous complaints on broken or defective products after two of three times of use. Many of them claimed that merchants refused to refund them, or that the product exchange process took a long time.
“There have been occasions when merchants tried to manipulate the situation by presenting the consumers with invalid vouchers, or vouchers that were close to their expiry date.”
Another trap that online shoppers often succumb to, she says, are misleading advertisements.

“Products purchased did not match the picture/description of products advertised online.”

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