FTC tightens rules on deliveries from abroad

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FTC tightens rules on deliveries from abroad


Local online retailers and delivery companies that deliver goods to domestic customers who purchased items from foreign retailers now have to inspect the purchased goods thoroughly before shipping them. Customers who purchase goods from foreign countries also have 10 days after they received shipment to return them or ask for a refund.

The Fair Trade Commission released new regulations on Tuesday as more customers are having unfavorable experiences buying goods from online retailers and the competition between online retailers overseas has become fiercer. This is the first time the Korean government has issued regulations or guidelines for retailers or delivery companies.

Foreign direct purchases have increased over the last five years and grew to 15.86 million transactions last year, Korea Customs Service said. However, government data showed that more local customers are having unfavorable experiences with their purchases from overseas as well.

There were 5,613 complaints reported to the Korea Consumer Agency last year and 15.7 percent, or 879 cases, were related to problems with products. Many customers said they had a hard time receiving refunds or canceling orders because online retailers and shippers often blamed the customers even if they shipped defective products or didn’t package them carefully, KCA said.

“Many companies enter and leave the foreign direct purchase businesses very frequently and it makes it hard for customers to ask for their rights [to cancel or refund],” an FTC official said.

Currently, there are three types of foreign direct purchases. The first type delivers purchased goods to domestic customers; another purchases goods from foreign online retailers and ships them to customers in Korea upon their request. The most common type of business sells foreign good through their online shops by signing deals with foreign brands and ships them to customers in Korea.

“Such businesses that are related to foreign direct purchases need to inspect their goods thoroughly before shipping and they now need to notify customers if there are any problems with the products,” said the FTC. “They also need to have customers receive new products if they are the manufacturers’ fault.”

The FTC introduced new rules requiring delivery companies to notify customers where their products are during the delivery process as many customers have complained about delays. The KCA received 1,667 complaints related to delivery, about 30 percent of total complaints.

The FTC also introduced specific guidelines for customers to ask for refunds or cancellation. Customers need to cancel their orders before shipment to return their products without delivery charges. Otherwise, they need to pay a fee to return.

Additionally, customers need to notify delivery companies within 10 days of receiving purchased goods about any problems. Delivery companies need to replace products if they can’t prove that the problems were not their fault.

BY CHO HYUN-SOOK, KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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