Foreign online retailers see complaints increase

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Foreign online retailers see complaints increase


More Korean customers are having unfavorable experiences with buying goods online from foreign retailers.

According to the Korea Consumer Agency, complaints about foreign direct purchases made by Korean consumers rose 36 percent from 100 cases in the first quarter of this year to 156 cases in the second quarter.

“We have received more complaints from customers who purchased goods online from foreign retailers that offered Korean-language services on their websites,” said Park Doo-hun, a director at the agency.

“People should be aware that just because websites offer Korean-language services, it does not necessarily mean that they are operated here in Korea. There are cases where people can’t get refunds from them since retailers are operating overseas.”

Many complaints made by Korean customers buying products online through direct purchases from overseas were related to delivery, refunds and cancellation, according to the consumer agency.

Of the 256 complaints reported in the first half of this year, 29.3 percent had to do with unsatisfactory delivery. Another 26 percent said foreign online retailers refused or delayed cancellations and refunds after the orders were placed, and 12.5 percent of consumers said they were unable to contact the seller or that retailers shut down their websites after the transactions were made.

Complaints about refunds and purchase cancellations rose 43 percent from 24 cases in the first quarter to 42 cases in the second quarter, and complaints about the inability to contact sellers more than doubled from nine to 23 cases during the same period.

By product, clothing and shoes were the items that Korean consumers were most dissatisfied purchasing from foreign online retailers. More than 30 percent of total complaints reported in the second quarter were related to buying clothes and shoes, followed by bags and accessories at 17 percent and electronics, including computers and cellphones, at 10.6 percent.

The agency released the names of three online retailers that received the highest number of complaints: Nuviante, Bellavei and Gentle Monster.

“Korean laws that mandate they provide refunds upon a customer’s request only apply to Korean retailers. Foreign retailers, on the other hand, do not have to follow Korean laws regulating this matter” said Park of the consumer agency.

“And it appears that many foreign retailers that offer refunds tend to ask for expensive cancellation fees compared to Korean retailers. Customers should be aware of such circumstances before making purchases.”

The agency has started a website ( to provide information for Koreans on making foreign direct purchases.


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