What to Know Before, During, and After Online Shopping
Online shopping is so easy and convenient, it’s easy to get hooked on it and think to yourself “why did I even bother going to shops to buy things?” One thing is shopping from the comfort of your own home, the other thing is not being able to physically verify the item you’re buying and the entity you’re buying from. This opens up opportunities for scams!
Of course, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t shop online, but there are steps you can take before, during, and after an online shopping spree to make sure you’re not taken advantage of by dishonest sellers.
Know Your Rights
Did you know that online sellers are no longer allowed to use the sentence “PM for price” on social media? This makes sense as without a concrete price tag, sellers can “PM” you with any price they want to. They are required to list their prices upfront, if they don’t, maybe look elsewhere first.
Whilst not strictly enforced, sellers can technically be slapped with a fine of up to RM 50,000 or a 3-year prison sentence for this offence.
There are rules even to the ads sellers display online. Technically, all ads on social media must have these 8 information: –
1. The full price of advertised product, including taxes and other charges.
2. Seller or company name
3. Company registration number
4. Contact information
5. Product information
6. Payment method
7. Terms and conditions
8. Approximate shipping period
How to Buy Safe
1. Know What You’re Buying
- Read the descriptions carefully, are you buying a brand new product? Or is it used? If they’re vague, try asking the seller, avoid buying until you’re sure about what you’ll be getting.
2. Read the Fine Print
- Find and read the terms and conditions, is the product refundable? Can you exchange it? If you return it, is postage covered? These are all things that might incur extra charges!
3. Buy From Social Media Only As a Last Resort
- Social media is good for a lot of things, but shopping on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or communication apps like WhatsApp come with risks. On the other hand, eCommerce platforms like Lazada and Shopee impose much stricter measures on their sellers.
4. Check the Market Price
- Unless you’re looking at a specialty or handmade item, each product should have an approximate market price. What is the price of it in retail stores? How much does it cost in similar online platforms?
- If you see an online shop selling it way below market price, does it mean you’ve hit the jackpot? There is a reason they’re able to sell it at such a low price, that reason maybe it’s a bootleg, or it was obtained illegally.
- Always be careful with prices that are too good to be true.
5. Pick COD for Maximum Security
- COD, or cash on delivery, means you pay the seller only upon delivery of the purchased item. In this case, you’re safe from being scammed off your money without getting the product, or being shipped a completely different item from the one you bought.
- Practise caution and pick a safe and open place area for any CODs.
What If I’ve Already Been Scammed?
If you believe you’ve been cheated on or taken advantage of by dishonest online sellers, you can always submit a report or complaint to the National Consumer Complaints Centre.
You can also report any shady businesses online even if you have not made a purchase from them. For example, if a seller insists on the practise of “PM for price,” you can make a complaint that would help all online shoppers.
Contact For Authorities on Consumer’s Rights
National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC)
Tel: 03-7803 6000
Email: [email protected]
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA)
Tel: 03-7876 2009