By U AC
Post February 2021 e-commerce scene was dominated by pygmy shops of all kinds, most of them selling shading goods or selling snake oils at exorbitant prices. The giants of the recent past, such as shop.com or rgo47 have been forced to hibernate through no fault of their own, but because of the felonious actions of NNCP terrorists, ever trolling online, to slander businesses and government officials. Yet the most ignominious persons of this insurrection are the terrorist who committed treachery against their own country and fellow countrymen.
Without the leaders to set the standards, the online marketplace is now mostly acting like a headless chicken, with most sellers on Facebook making dubious claims about their dodgy products. A thorough examination of the online shops revealed that most of the shops are committing multiple of the following unethical practices in order to exploit and defraud potential customers.
No stating of price
Most of the Facebook ads will not show the prices, asking people to head to the chat box. This could only be one thing; there is no price transparency. Besides wasting consumers’ time having to write a comment ‘price please’, the objective was for the seller to rip the uninformed buyer off, through overpricing. Without competent market knowledge, the buyer is at a disadvantage if he is to negotiate 121 through Chat Box with the seller.
Remedy: Try to avoid shops or sellers that do not display the price of goods and ask you to come to the Chat Box. Display a bit of personal social responsibility by encouraging the seller to display the price (through the comment). Please note that asking the potential buyers to go to the seller’s website or telegram page, to promote its own platforms, is perfectly ethical and legal.
Not clarifying genuine or a replica
Especially in relation to branded sportswear and gear, such as shoes, golf clubs, etc., Myanmar consumers are sold mainly replicas. With limited disposable income, all citizens of developing countries have to choose between affordability and a daily meal. Yet a lot of sellers sell these replica products without stating this critical fact, at a price close to a used genuine item. This is purely cheating, hence the bromide for all buyers: Buyers Beware!
Remedy: Before you purchase a branded product, specifically ask if the item being put on offer is genuine or a replica. If you do not get a response, do not risk your money.
Faking up circumstances for sale
Replicating the strategies from the NNCP terrorist group seeking donations through crocodile tears, online sellers are also stating the sob stories, such as closing down businesses, having to leave Myanmar, loss of jobs, etc. Who would not want to hear a good story? How can the perennial contender of the world’s top three most generous nations and its mainly Buddhist citizens can ignore the chance to do some Dharna for the better of one’s next life, by helping those in despair?
Remedy: Ignore the emotional appeals and hardship tales. See-through all these unverifiable statements and focus on the pricing only.
Creating fake sales
This happens in live sales. Human beings have the tendency to follow the crowd and subliminal etching on the mind that if everyone is doing, then it must be true or good. Fraudsters take advantage of that by asking associates or relatives to bid or buy during a live sales event, intending to drag along unsuspecting buyers to buy overpriced goods.
Remedy: Avoid buying at live sales. They will be products left in inventory. Do not believe the words, limited stocks, pre-orders and ignore the crowd.
False claims/unsuitable items
From products claiming to enhance your manhood to those that claim to be able a cure for all, Facebook online shops are filled with items with unverifiable and dubious acclaims. Some of the products being sold are also totally unsuitable for the environment in question e.g., cherry plants being sold as if they would survive monsoon and extra hot weather down south.
Remedy: Avoid buying medicinal and health-related products online. There would not be any recourse should something go awry. If you are buying living things, such as plants, seeds or animals, do yourself a favour and research via Google or ChatGPT, to figure out the suitability in your environment.
This has been the most common issue since the advent of online shopping; attracting customers with double-digit discounts, via raising the pre-offer price. Even if this huge discounting approach is not used, the pricing may significantly vary among online shops, especially for novelty or popular products. One shop may be selling the same product at twice the price. Remedy: Do your homework and search the correct pricing via Google or Ai, before you commit to a purchase.
What is the government doing?
Recently there was an announcement from MoC, designating online shops/sales under the category of special goods, requiring a separate registration of online shops operating within the country. This comes after years of working out on e-commerce guidelines, regulations, etc., and after thousands of consumer complaints relating to online shops to the Consumer Affairs Department under the Ministry.
The registration cost is likely to be between 50,000 – 100,000 Kyats. Those shops that do not register may face legal action and registered shops also fall under the jurisdiction and supervision of the Consumer Affairs Department. These steps are a move in the right direction to reduce the above fraudulent activities. The gap still exists for those selling personal properties or second-hand goods through one-off posts.