Online shoppers warned anew to be extra vigilant
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - March 31, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  While online shopping demand is on the rise as majority of consumers are now staying home due to the coronavirus scare, online buyers are again warned to be very extra vigilant when transacting via the internet.

The ASEAN (Association of Southeast East Asian Nations) recently launched a regional information campaign reminding the over 130 million consumers across ASEAN, including Filipinos, the importance of easy and safe e-commerce purchases.

“It becomes faster, cheaper and more convenient but there are also risks that may cause loss or harm. As consumers, it is important to know that you have the right to information and the right to seek compensation," said a video on the campaign on online shopping which was launched in all 10 ASEAN members simultaneously on March 16.

In Cebu, retailers are currently investing on fixing or improving their online store platform to take advantage of the online, and delivery services, as consumers are now forced to stay at home or work from home to contain the further spread of COVID-19.

According to Philippine Retailers Association (PRA-Cebu) past president Robert Go, a lot of homegrown retailers are not well prepared in terms of the full online retail set-up, thus most of them are catching up and currently improving online shopping access.

According to the Asean Integration Report 2019, there were more than 350 million internet users across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as of mid-2018.

While online trading has becoming the new norm in the retail sector globally, the campaign was launched to remind both retailers and consumers to be responsible in taking advantage of the online shopping portal.

It advised online consumers to have a high level of awareness about checking the company registry, reading the product or service reviews, verifying the use of safe websites, and studying the terms and conditions carefully.

“After purchase, if anything goes wrong, do not hesitate to contact the company to demand appropriate compensation," the infographics on the campaign also said.

It underscored the importance of applying good business practices online.

There should be no fake reviews or removal of negative feedback; fair terms and conditions on delivery, payment, warranties and guarantees; and available mechanisms for dispute resolution and redress, it added.

The video campaign on online shopping said it is imperative to promote responsible business practices, such as ensuring good quality products and satisfaction services, price transparency and secure payment channels, on-time delivery, and providing a customer care hotline.

“Businesses have the responsibility to respect consumer rights by providing accurate information, addressing consumer complaints, and providing replacements for faulty products or refunds for unsatisfactory services," it said.

Moreover, the campaign cited the importance of having an effective law enforcement.

This is achieved by implementing relevant regulations, guiding businesses to abide by those regulations, informing consumers, and encouraging them to exercise their rights. All of these will make shopping online not only easy but also safe for consumers in Asean," it added.

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