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Draft regulation to require refunds for most products purchased online

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As reported by the official China Daily news agency, a new draft rule published this week by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) would entitle domestic consumers to full refunds on unsatisfactory products purchased online, even if the packages have been unsealed.

China E-commerce

E-commerce market

This latest consumer protection law would significantly improve consumer rights by, for the first time, covering most goods ordered online. E-commerce in China has grown by leaps and bounds, and now accounts for roughly 13% of the country’s total retail market according to data from consulting firm McKinsey. McKinsey also found that 81% of China’s population in tier-1 cities shop online.

However according to China Daily: “About 30 percent of goods sold on 10 major e-commerce platforms in China failed quality standards, according to an inspection by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine that covered goods such as toys, clothing and electrical appliances last year.

Half of consumers have bought fake products online, and about 23 percent said they have been refused refunds because they had opened the packages, according to a survey of 1,237 respondents that was conducted by Southern Metropolis Daily last year.”

Product returns

Accordingly, the new draft regulation would allow consumers to return most types of products within seven (7) days, and get a refund without specifying a reason, so long as the returned products are intact. The draft further specifies that products whose packages have been opened for inspection or goods that have been tested only for inspection of quality and function are considered intact.

The draft regulation does exclude perishable goods from the aforementioned return requirements, as well as several other types of products that cannot be opened without affecting the quality of the products.

The SAIC is seeking public opinion on the latest draft regulation until Sept 5, with plans to adopt the regulation in October (possibly with some amendments).

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