KCA warns about buying online from abroad
“There are so many choices that you wouldn’t find at discount stores here, and they are still offered at bargain prices,” Kim said.
In recent years, many Korean consumers have been shopping more on overseas online malls, causing alarm among Korean retailers that has led to major campaigns like the so-called Korean Black Friday.
But the experiences of shoppers like Mr. Kim notwithstanding, the Korea Consumer Agency released a report Wednesday showing that some products are still more expensive from overseas online malls compared to local retailers, and that complaints about service have doubled in the last year.
According to the agency, the same popular sneakers by brands like Nike and Reebok sold at Korean retailers were often cheaper than from overseas online shopping malls by as much as 70 percent.
The situation for children’s shoes wasn’t much different.
According to the study of nine different shoes - five for adults and four for children - only two were cheaper online from overseas than in Korea.
One pair of New Balances was 27.6 percent cheaper when bought from overseas, while Puma’s Blaze sneakers were 16.4 percent cheaper.
In most cases, the retail prices of popular brands were slightly lower on overseas online shopping malls, but those quickly swelled when delivery costs were included.
In the case of Nike’s Air Force 1 07 Low, the retail price on overseas online shopping malls when converted to won was 94,375 won ($82), which is 15 percent cheaper than the 108,860 won price tag here in Korea. But when the 16,722 won delivery costs are included, the same Nikes cost an additional 21 percent when bought from overseas.
Price wasn’t the only problem with the overseas online malls that the consumer agency found during its study. The biggest issue was delivery time, which was oftentimes twice that of local online shopping malls.
“When we ordered the products from a Korean online shopping mall, it took us an average two to six days, whereas when we placed the orders on an overseas online shopping mall, it took us seven to 11 days,” an official at the consumer agency said.
“We advise consumers to be careful when purchasing popular brand sneakers from overseas online shopping malls, as the price of the same product could be different according to the size and color, and there are also frequent price changes.
Also beware of additional charges that can be incurred when trying to return or exchange goods.”
In fact, the Korea Customs Service on Wednesday said complaints made about direct purchases made on overseas online shopping malls has doubled last year, from 2,781 to 5,613.
Most of the complaints were about delivery problems including late delivery, items being delivered to the wrong place or the wrong item being delivered.
These complaints accounted for nearly 30 percent. The second-most frequent complaints came from refusals to cancel or refund orders, which accounted for 22.6 percent.
But even these cases are unlikely to deter consumers from buying online.
“Shopping overseas is still most convenient and best for items that are rare here, like the Crocs golf shoes that I bought for 30,000 won,” Kim said.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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