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HomeconsumerComplaints against e-commerce sellers up 54%, despite overall decline: Case

Complaints against e-commerce sellers up 54%, despite overall decline: Case

SINGAPORE – Complaints from consumers involving online purchases were up by 54 per cent in the first six months of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022, despite a general decline in consumer complaints.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said on Monday that it received 1,703 complaints involving online purchases in the first half of 2023, up from the 1,107 complaints received in the first half of 2022.

Common complaints were those related to delivery issues and goods that were defective or did not conform to the contract, as well as misleading and false claims by sellers.

“This increase can be attributed to the increasing popularity of online shopping,” said the consumer watchdog in a statement, adding that 172 e-commerce complaints in this period involved the purchase of electrical and electronic products. This was a 67 per cent increase from the same period in 2022.

Case president Melvin Yong said that an accreditation system for e-businesses under its CaseTrust arm will be launched in the coming months as the increase in e-commerce purchase complaints is “cause for concern”.

“The scheme will cover the entire range of e-commerce practices from pre-sale to post-sale, and addresses common consumer pain points when they shop online,” he said.

Case said it received a total of 7,316 complaints in the first half of 2023, a drop of 8 per cent from the 7,960 complaints filed in the same period in 2022.

The electrical and electronics industry received the highest number of complaints in the first half of 2023, with 653, followed by the renovation contractor, car, beauty and furniture industries.

“Most industries saw a decrease in complaints except a few industries where the increase was generally marginal,” said Case.

Renovation contractor complaints down

In particular, complaints against renovation contractors – which had topped the list in the January-June period in 2022 – fell by 22 per cent, from 807 to 631.

Case said the dip can be attributed to the easing of supply chain disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, where renovation contractors could not complete projects on schedule because of manpower shortages and delays in the shipment of renovation materials.

Mr Yong said more companies in the home renovation industry have been encouraged to adopt the CaseTrust Standard Renovation Contract, which specifies clear work and payment schedules.

“Web portals such as Qanvast and HomeMatch have also started to differentiate between CaseTrust-accredited contractors and non-accredited ones, which helped consumers to make an informed choice,” he noted.

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Increase in complaints against airline industry

Complaints against the airline industry increased by 39 per cent, from 181 complaints in the first half of 2022 to 251 complaints in 2023, with common grouses being issues with booking systems, double bookings and damaged or missing baggage.

Case noted that the increase was aligned with trends in several other countries, where consumer complaints against airlines were also on the rise.

Mr Yong, who noted that the increase in complaints against the airline industry corresponds with the increase in consumer travel demand, said Case is working closely with industry stakeholders to ensure that disputes are addressed fairly and expediently.

“We have also advised airlines to highlight certain terms and conditions to consumers, so that they can make an informed choice when purchasing their air tickets.”

Beauty industry saw highest pre-payment losses

Consumers lost more than $300,000 in pre-payments in the first half of 2023, with the beauty industry accounting for the highest amount of the losses at $87,149, or almost 30 per cent.

The overall 4 per cent increase in pre-payment losses – from $289,842 in the first half of 2022 to $302,205 in 2023 – was generally due to sudden business closures, said Case.

Pre-payment losses for the renovation contractor, education and gym industries stood at $84,500, $31,305 and $20,540 respectively.

“Given the significant proportion of losses against the beauty, renovation contractor, education and gym industries, Case calls on the Government to mandate targeted pre-payment protection in these industries to better safeguard consumers’ hard-earned monies,” said Mr Yong.

“We encourage consumers who intend to purchase beauty and renovation contractor services to patronise CaseTrust-accredited companies, as they are required to protect consumers’ pre-payments and deposits.”


Top 10 industries with consumer complaints in 2023

1. Electrical and electronics (653 complaints)
2. Contractors (631)
3. Cars (629)
4. Beauty (594)
5. Furniture (407)
6. Food and beverage (302)
7. Airlines (251)
8. Telecommunications (235)
9. Travel (234)
10. Pets (231)

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