Yangyel Lhaden

While the Office of the Consumer Protection (OCP) cautioned Bhutanese consumers not to do business with unknown online businesses and deal only with registered businesses, many are becoming victims.

A Wangdue resident, Prakash, never thought he would be scammed online.

He claimed he did have a good past experience of online shopping from Facebook pages. “I saw a branded beard trimmer one day and immediately placed an order with full payment of Nu 1,200.”

However, he did not receive the product even after months and the account from which he ordered the beard trimmer never responded to his messages.

Prakash said he later found it was a fake Facebook account with a fake profile picture. “I urge everyone who wants to shop online to check the authenticity of the account.”

Most posts on Instagram and Facebook that deal with online businesses operate on a pre-order basis. While some ask for half of the total cost to confirm the order, others ask for full payment with delivery between two and four weeks.

Another victim is a Thimphu resident, Chimi Tenzin.

She said she bought a bag for Nu 2,000 from an online business operator on Instagram and later found that her friend bought the same bag from other shopping sites for Nu 1,200.

“I wanted to enquire about the price but the shopping page no more exists,” she said.

Many people, who were scammed by online business operators, said that the accounts or shopping pages were deleted after they scammed people.

Another Thimphu resident, Rinchen Dema, said her cousin ordered an item on Instagram and paid full amount. “Even after a month of placing the order, she did not receive the item.”

She said that her cousin claimed full refund after sending repeated messages.

However, it is not only customers, but also owners of shopping pages who are scammed by dealers.

A young diploma graduate, who did not want to be identified, tried doing online business.

She said she couldn’t pay back half payment to many customers after her supplier duped her.

She said that she did not intend to scam her customers, but thought of venturing into online business to earn income.

She started the online business after graduation as per her best friend’s suggestion.

She said the dealer took 50 Thai Baht as commission along with full payment of items. “I paid the money I took from customers to the dealer, but did not receive a single item from the dealer.”

After the unsuccessful attempt in online business, she deleted her pages as she doesn’t have any money to pay the customers.

Meanwhile, according to the OCP, there are 106 registered electronic-commerce (e-commerce)  as of December 23, 2021.