Convenience store outlet fined over Ultraman blind boxes

Hu Min
An outlet of FamilyMart in Jing'an District has been fined for violation of Shanghai's consumer rights protection regulations over two Ultraman mystery boxes, or blind boxes.
Hu Min

An outlet of FamilyMart in downtown Jing'an District has been fined for violation of Shanghai's consumer rights protection regulations.

Two Ultraman mystery boxes, or blind boxes, sold at the convenience store failed to clearly mark the probability of the buyers drawing "rare items," "hidden items," and "surprise items."

The Jing'an District market regulators have ordered the store to make rectification and fined it 10,000 yuan (US$1,450) as a result.

Shanghai's newly drafted consumer rights protection regulations include clauses on blind boxes to regulate the fast-growing mystery-box economy so as to encourage above-board sales and rational spending.

Blind boxes have become a craze in China and involve consumers paying a retailer for a box with a random assortment of novelty items inside. The buyer doesn't know what they're getting until they open the boxes.

Lured by uncertainty around, or inside, the mystery boxes, some consumers have fallen victim to irrational spending due to the man-made rarity and been misled by fake advertising based on information asymmetry.

Businesses should make consumers fully aware of the types of "blind boxes" being offered, drawing rules, the amount of products inside and the probability of drawing "surprise items," according to the regulations released last year.

The FamilyMart case was exposed by the Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation on Monday as one of the typical 10 cases of consumer rights infringement last year ahead of March 15, World Consumer Rights Day.

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