Stronger solutions needed to protect online shoppers

06:00 | 08/09/2021 Trade

(VEN) - The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been working hard to control the infraction of consumer protection laws and regulations as well as to improve consumer protection activities and institutions, contributing to a healthy production and business environment.

Positive changes

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority (VCCA), implementation of consumer protection laws and policy, contract control and consumer complaint handling have improved. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has sharply increased online shopping, increasing the infringements of consumer rights.

stronger solutions needed to protect online shoppers
More and more consumers choose online shopping

Nguyen Manh Hung, Chair of the Vietnam Association for Protection of Consumer Rights said e-commerce increases consumer convenience but has a number of drawbacks. While Vietnam has issued laws and regulations on e-commerce and related guiding decrees, fraud facilitated by legal loopholes continues. Abuses include selling of unlicensed and imitation goods of unknown or uncertified origin and quality.

Hung said to better fight the production and trade of counterfeit goods, the role and responsibilities of provincial administrations must be enhanced instead of relying only on relevant management agencies such as the economic police and market management agencies.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Vietnam E-Commerce and Digital Economy Agency (IDEA) recommends consumers shop through websites certified on http://online.gov.vn.

Apart from receiving and handling consumer feedback and complaints, the Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority regularly gets and analyzes information to provide consumers with warnings and instructions on online shopping.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been working with relevant agencies including inspectorates to detect and control fraudulent trade. The ministry’s Market Surveillance Agency has instructed market management authorities of provinces and cities to strengthen market inspection and supervision, especially e-commerce and the trade in medical equipment for pandemic control, and apply strict sanctions to organizations and individuals infracting law.

Policy improvement

The Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority said the government and the National Assembly Executive Committee have agreed in principle to amend the Law on Consumer Protection.

stronger solutions needed to protect online shoppers
Market management authorities confiscate counterfeit goods

According to the VCCA, suggestions and assessments by state agencies, enterprises, consumers and social organizations will be considered during the law’s revision to make it more practical and efficient.

According to Hung of the Association for Protection of Consumer Rights, not only policy improvement but also consumers play an important role in bettering protection. Online shoppers should choose reputable sellers and carefully read other customer reviews and comments about products they intend to buy. Dealing with reputable e-commerce platforms allows shoppers to track their orders through apps and emails and avoid being cheated.

A VCCA representative said that to protect themselves consumers need to quickly send feedback to sellers when realizing that their rights and interests have been infringed. If the problem is not solved satisfactorily, they need to contact competent authorities for help as soon as possible.

Management authorities must take stronger measures in fighting counterfeit goods in order to better prevent and reduce trade fraud, according to the Vietnam Association for Protection of Consumer Rights.

Under Article 192 of the 2015 Penal Code, which was amended and supplemented in 2017, the maximum penalty for producing and trading in counterfeit goods is 15 years in prison.

People who produce or trade in counterfeit goods valued between VND30 million and VND150 million can be fined from VND100 million to VND1 billion, or suffer a prison sentence of one to five years, according to the law.

Apart from timely detecting, controlling and handling violations of the Law on Consumer Protection, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has launched a toll-free helpline number 18006838 for consumers.

Hoang Lan