General

Online shopping boomed but many falling prey to fraudsters

As online shopping has become much more popular amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a section of unscrupulous e-commerce businessmen has started cheating unsuspecting netizens taking advantage of the lack of transparency.

e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) says it is developing a ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ to bring its members under accountability and hopes the policy will help protect customers from being cheated.

E-commerce has been around in Bangladesh since the late 90s but its popularity grew in the last five years. And during the Covid-19 pandemic, online shopping grew by leaps and bounds as people opted for remote shopping from the safety of their homes.

But a vested quarter has been taking advantage of the situation and cheating customers. Online businesses have mushroomed across the country due to a lack of proper surveillance.

There are allegations that some online businessmen are putting up pictures of high-end products but providing low-quality goods to customers. They are attracting people with various offers.

Farida Yasmin, a resident of Basabo area in the capital, told UNB that she ordered eight three-pieces on Facebook several months ago. The Mirpur-based seller informed her that she would get delivery after 15 days of paying for the products. She Tk 5,700, including Tk 100 delivery charge, through bKash.

More than two weeks later, Farida was yet to get her products. “I called their number provided on their Facebook page but nobody answered and I didn’t get the products,” she said.

She got back her money from the online vendor after two months following negotiating by one of her journalist friends.

Meanwhile, Afroza Begum, a resident of Kushtia, said that she had bought some cosmetics online.

She said she had placed an order after seeing the picture of the product and paid for it in advance.

“They did not send my products. When I rang them several times, they blocked me,” Afroza said adding that she did not get back her money.

E-commerce sites guidelines soon

General Secretary of e-CAB Abdul Wahid Tomal said most of the cheating incidents occurred through online Facebook pages. There are around 100,000 Facebook pages through which vendors are selling their products.

“They have no accountability as most of them have no trade license or TIN number,” he said.

It is a big challenge to prevent customers from being cheated. Customer sensitisation is the best way to control cheating, he said.

e-CAB has been formed to improve the e-commerce sector of Bangladesh. There are currently around 500 websites and 2,000 Facebook companies under e-CAB.

Replying to a question, he said trade license, TIN and some other information are mandatory to get membership of e-CAB.

“We provide membership after verification of that information,” he said. “We take action when we get complaints against our members but it is not possible to take action against the vendors, who are not our members.”

Replying to another question, Tomal said e-CAB and Commerce Ministry have been jointly working to prepare ‘Standard Operating Procedure’.

“We’re also working to prepare guidelines for e-commerce sites. Online cheating will fall drastically after completion of ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ and guidelines for e-commerce sites,” he added.

e-CAB has been also working to provide ‘ESCROW Service’ through which customers, vendors and deliverymen would come under a transparent process, he said.

Until then, customers have to order products after scrutinising the track record of the pages and ensure that the vendor of the Facebook page is a member of e-CAB, Tomal said.

SOURCE: UNITED NEWS OF BANGLADESH