Yangyel Lhaden

Consumers have filed 11 complaints of unfair business practices to the Office of Consumer Protection (OCP)  against unregistered online businesses.

OCP’s Chief Program Officer Jigme Dorji said that his office was working on the consumers’ complaints seeking redressal.

He said that social media sites have become popular places for online businesses which could lead to an increased risk of consumers being scammed. “In order to streamline electronic commerce (e-commerce) and protect consumers, a guideline on e-commerce is developed which requires e-commerce operators to register and abide by certain regulatory requirements.”

Jigme Dorji said that increasing online businesses was not a problem as long as they registered with OCP.

To curb unregistered online businesses, OCP regularly uploads public notifications sharing lists of registered businesses in public forums including the websites of the economic affairs ministry and OCP’s website and Facebook pages.

Jigme Dorji said that public notifications create awareness among the public and also advertise online businesses and their legality.

According to the OCP, there are 106 registered e-commerce businesses as of December 23, 2021.

Jigme Dorji said that when consumers were scammed by an online business not legally registered with OCP, it would be difficult to track the scammer. “For the OCP to help consumers, the consumer will have to show some proof of the scam.”

“So far, the complaint received from victims were traceable. In case, the unregistered online business owners were not traceable but if consumers have a copy of the online transaction record, we’d still be able to trace the person behind the online business from the Bank details,” Jigme Dorji said.

He said that interested consumers should shop only with registered and reliable e-commerce business entities or any trusted business entities engaging online.

Jigme Dorji said the risk of fraud with registered online businesses was low but if consumers felt they were wronged or cheated by not getting the right product in good condition or if delivery was not as per their terms and condition, the OCP could help the aggrieved consumers get redressal, as long as there was proper proof of transaction.

He said that violating business entities would be warned and given the chance to rectify their way of doing business and in case of repeated violations, the OCP would take action as per the Consumer Protection Act, 2015. “We urge consumers who feel they are wronged by both registered and unregistered businesses to register their cases with OCP or call the toll-free number 1214.”

Quick tips while shopping online

Always do business only with registered and reliable e-commerce business entities, or any trusted business entities engaging online businesses.

Always study the product or service offered and their terms and conditions (costs including delivery, delivery time, payment mode, insurance, warranty, replacement, reimbursement if goods are damaged) in full detail and do not hesitate to ask for clarification or more information.

Compare prices and other terms of the offer with other online businesses before making a purchase decision.

Goods can look deceiving on the internet. Always check the goods thoroughly – be it design, colour, size, volume, weight, brand, etc. before deciding.

Report to OCP of any unfair trade practices or in case aggrieved by the business entities