Consumer council hears 28,999 complaints

Hu Min
Complaints related to the COVID-19 pandemic almost 40 percent of the total from January 21 to the end of March according to the Shanghai Consumer Council. 
Hu Min

Clothing, transport, home appliances, Internet games and online education top the list of complaints so far this year, the Shanghai Consumer Council announced on Thursday.

The council received 28,999 complaints in the first three months of the year, a drop of 43.2 percent from the same period last year.

Between January 21 and March, 8,548 complaints related to the coronavirus pandemic, or 37.4 percent of the total, were forwarded to the council, involving 49.77 million yuan (US$7.05 million), it said.

Of all the complaints, 8,540 related to commodities, or 29.4 percent, with the rest about services, the council said.

In total, 62.1 percent were about after-sales service, and 21.5 percent about contracts. The rest were quality problems.

Online sales accounted for 72 percent, with the rest about offline stores and prepaid cards, the council said.

"Because offline consumption has been curbed due to COVID-19, there had been a slump of complaints over offline sales, while online sales related to pre-payment such as online shopping and Internet entertainment were the hotbed of complaints in the first quarter," said Tang Jiansheng, the council's deputy secretary-general.

The council received 8,060 complaints about tourism and relevant services triggered by demands of change or cancel air tickets, hotel accommodation and tourism itineraries due to the pandemic.

"Extra high service charges for refunds, delays in refunds, and poor after-sales service angered consumers in many cases," Tang said.

A spike of complaints was triggered by Internet games and online education amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the council said.

There had been 1,499 complaints about Internet games in the first quarter, which involved blocked accounts, disputes over refunds and missing virtual equipment, the council said.

The 1,259 complaints concerning online education were concentrated on refund disputes due to class reservation difficulties, class delays, high service charge for refunds, and price disputes, said Tang.

A total of 20,890 complaints were triggered by online sales, with clothing and shoes, home appliances, and food topping the list, the council said.

Among them, 732 related to protective items such as face masks and disinfectant, a surge of 93.7 percent from the same period last year, it said.

Product quality flaws, cancellation of already paid orders and slow deliveries drew complaints, the council said.

Another 1,000 complaints were forwarded over property rental services in the first quarter, growing 49.3 percent from the same period last year, according to the council.

The fulfillment of some tenancy contracts was affected by the pandemic, the council said.

Sudden increases in rents drew complaints. In addition, landlords forced tenants to move out before their contract was up without explanation or refunds in some cases, and some landlords still charged service fees even if tenants could not live at apartments due to the pandemic.

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