FULL DIS­CLO­SURE BY ON­LINE SELL­ERS

Those who don’t ad­here to 8 min­istry re­quire­ments face up to RM50,000 fine, 3 years’ jail, or both

New Straits Times - - Front Page - » RE­PORT BY ALIZA SHAH AND HANI SHAMIRA SHAHRUDIN

THE Do­mes­tic Trade, Co­op­er­a­tives and Con­sumerism Min­istry is go­ing af­ter on­line traders, in­clud­ing those on so­cial me­dia, who do not list prices and other de­tails of their prod­ucts and ser­vices, up front. Phrases such as ʻPM (pri­vate mes­sage)... check in­box’ are among the trig­gers for en­forcers to act.

CON­SUMERS sourc­ing goods and ser­vices from the World Wide Web will be bet­ter pro­tected as the law will now force sell­ers to dis­play ev­ery­thing that buy­ers would want to know be­fore mak­ing any trans­ac­tions.

En­forcers from the Do­mes­tic Trade, Co­op­er­a­tives and Con­sumerism Min­istry will be com­ing down hard on on­line sell­ers, in­clud­ing those ply­ing their trade on so­cial me­dia like Face­book and In­sta­gram, who fail to put up or de­lib­er­ately omit the prices of their goods and ser­vices.

Red flags that would trig­ger en­forcers to act against er­rant sell­ers in­clude when they see in­ter­ested buy­ers post­ing mes­sages like “PM me, sis” on the thread of a prod­uct for sale.

The min­istry’s en­force­ment direc­tor, Datuk Mohd Roslan Ma­hayudin, said on­line sell­ers would come un­der scru­tiny as close as con­ven­tional re­tail­ers.

They, he added, would also face the same kind of pun­ish­ments.

In­di­vid­u­als run­ning on­line busi­nesses with­out ob­serv­ing the eight re­quire­ments listed out by the min­istry could be slapped with a fine of up to RM50,000 or face a jail term of not more than three years, or both.

They are re­quired by the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Act 1999 to dis­play (on their sites) the fol­low­ing:

THE full prices of the goods or ser­vices, in­clud­ing the taxes and trans­porta­tion or other costs;

NAME of the per­son op­er­at­ing the business or the com­pany and business name;

BUSINESS or com­pany reg­is­tra­tion num­ber;

EMAIL ad­dress, tele­phone num­ber or ad­dress of the per­son run­ning the business;

DE­SCRIP­TION of the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of the goods or ser­vices;

METH­ODS of pay­ment;

TERMS and con­di­tions; and, ES­TI­MATED de­liv­ery time.

“We are fully en­forc­ing this law af­ter hav­ing re­laxed on this to al­low traders to ad­just ac­cord­ingly,” Roslan said.

“We want con­sumers to be bet­ter cov­ered... Their rights must be pro­tected, and they must be able to make in­formed pur­chas­ing de­ci­sion with de­tails on prices, the prod­ucts and ser­vices, who they are deal­ing with and hid­den charges at their fin­ger­tips.

“So, if a per­son is sell­ing a cat, for ex­am­ple, he must dis­play the price he wants for it... He can­not sim­ply say ‘pri­vate mes­sage if in­ter­ested’... Not any more.” The coun­try first in­tro­duced the re­quire­ment for price tag­ging in 1977 when the Price Con­trol Or­der (In­di­ca­tion of Price by Re­tailer) was in­tro­duced.

The law, which then cov­ered only those in re­tail, was re­placed with the Price Con­trol Or­der (In­di­ca­tion of Price by Re­tailer) 1993.

When e-com­merce be­gan to grow and cases of on­line fraud be­came ram­pant, the gov­ern­ment came out with the Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion (Elec­tronic Trad­ing Trans­ac­tion) Reg­u­la­tions 2012 to rein in er­rant on­line traders.

Roslan said his team of en­forcers in­cluded a spe­cific one to smoke out un­scrupu­lous on­line sell­ers.

“We don’t have is­sues with sell­ers who use on­line mar­ket­places such as Zalora and Lazada as most of them com­ply with our law.

“Our prob­lem is with those us­ing so­cial me­dia to ply their trade.

“We have given them am­ple time. Now, they have to dis­play their prices or we will go af­ter them.”

Roslan urged the pub­lic to work with the min­istry to en­sure traders com­plied with the dis­play re­quire­ments and tell on them if they failed to do so by call­ing the en­force­ment di­vi­sion at 1-800-886-800.

We don’t have is­sues with sell­ers who use on­line mar­ket­places such as Zalora and Lazada as most of them com­ply with our law. Our prob­lem is with those us­ing so­cial me­dia to ply their trade.

DATUK MOHD ROSLAN MA­HAYUDIN

Do­mes­tic Trade, Co­op­er­a­tives and Con­sumerism Min­istry en­force­ment direc­tor

Red flags that would trig­ger en­forcers to act against er­rant sell­ers in­clude mes­sages like ‘PM me, sis’ (pri­vate mes­sage me, sis­ter) on the thread of a prod­uct for sale.

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