Coronavirus leaves mark on consumer complaints

Hu Min
Complaints were down nearly 30 percent overall in the first half of this year, although grievances related to online shopping and education saw major spikes.
Hu Min

Clothing, home appliances, transportation services, educational training and Internet services drew the most consumer complaints in the first half of this year, the Shanghai Consumer Council revealed on Monday.

The council received 69,676 complaints in total between January and June, a drop of 28.7 percent from the same period last year. Among them, 16.4 percent were related to the coronavirus, involving products and services worth 111 million yuan (US$15.9 million).

More than 23,000 complaints in total concerned products, while the rest involved services, according to the council.

The number of complaints over tourism, air tickets, accommodation and education training soared under the impact of the pandemic, triggered by unreasonable commission charges, refund delays and service quality problems, the council said.

Meanwhile, various promotional activities launched by e-commerce platforms spurred demand, while also leading to a 39-percent increase in complaints regarding online shopping, the council said.

Quality, discrepancies between promotions and actual products, and the cancellation of orders drew the most complaints, the council said.

The council had 10,494 complaints about transportation in the first half, among which 81 percent involved aviation.

High service fees and slow refunding processes were major complaints when consumers applied for refunds, and different refund policies of overseas airlines also drew criticism, the council said.

The council also received 5,625 complaints about online training, a rise of 21 percent from the same period last year.

Many consumers asked for refunds as they said education quality fell short of their expectations. Others complained they were charged high service fees for refunds, the council said.

Meanwhile, because many tourist attractions and parks require reservation for entry due to the coronavirus, there have been many ticketing disputes over failure to make reservation after payment was made, the council said.

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