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Expats applaud protection for online buyers

(Shanghai Daily)

11:19, April 26, 2013

Expats living in the city gave thumbs up to the draft amendments for the consumer rights law that mandate a seven-day return period for products bought online, while experts said its implementation remains a challenge.

With online shopping gaining popularity among expats, complaints are also on the rise. Expats said they had high expectations for the new version of the law.

"I think it is a good thing because on the Internet you can be lured into buying bigger things on impulse that you might regret later, and seven days is a good period to regain your senses," said Diederik Scheepstra, from the Netherlands.

He said in his country, there is a similar law that is referred to under the phrase "time to think." This applies to the purchase of products and services that are bought at a distance, meaning online or by telephone, and it gives people seven working days to undo the agreement of purchase.

Celine Chanut of France said guaranteeing a minimum standard of quality is important in China, and "updating the law is great."

"From my own experience, poor quality is often the No. 1 problem of buying online, mostly Taobao," she said.

Sellers don't always take responsibility, Chanut said.

"Now I make sure to buy from well-rated professionals, read first the comments from other consumers, compare the products and choose a place not too far in case of returns."

She said her expat friends use translation tools to buy on Taobao, and she heard lot of stories of poor quality products.

"But usually they prefer not to complain because it is too complicated to do it online without mastering the language."

"I have very high expectations for the new consumer rights law," said a Norwegian who gave his name as Ingar, who has lived in the city since the 1980s. "What we need, in addition, is that the courts follow up on the new law," he said.

He said there is a 30-day full-refund period in Norway when people order commodities online, even if there is no fault in the products.

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