Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Watch out: TV shopping can prove a painful ordeal

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sitting on a couch with a remote control in hand has become a popular shopping activity, especially among women, but a survey released yesterday shows that 60 percent of buyers have had unpleasant experiences with TV home shopping.

These include difficulties in getting refunds or returning flawed products, and the unfriendly attitude of suppliers when asked for after-sales services, according to a survey conducted by the Consumers' Foundation (消基會).

"TV home shopping has become the latest trend but we found that disputes stemming from such non-store retailing are also on the rise," said Jason Lee (李鳳翱), chairman of the consumer advocacy group, during a press conference.

SMALL SURVEY

The foundation's online survey collected opinions from 241 respondents between June 29 and July 7.

Of the respondents, 109 said they had never purchased goods through TV channels because of worries about product quality (76 percent), hassles in getting refunds (59 percent) and personal information leaks, such as credit card numbers (56 percent).

For the 132 respondents who had shopped using TV channels, 38 percent complained about allegedly fraudulent advertising, 20 percent said they received flawed products and 14 percent expressed discontent that shopping channels and suppliers avoided offering after-sale service, the survey found.

HORROR STORY

Lee said one consumer purchased a liquid-crystal-display TV in July last year from a TV shopping channel. Although the buyer repeatedly demanded the company exchange the flawed TV for a new one, the supplier did not deal with the matter until November.

Making things worse, the replacement TV was found to have scratches on the body and malfunctioned the first time it was used.

After the Consumers' Foundation intervened, the supplier agreed to issue a full refund and a coupon for NT$1,000, Lee said.

The chairman said that the Consumer Protection Law (消費者保護法) also applies to TV home shopping.

WAITING PERIOD

This means consumers are allowed seven days of deliberation before deciding whether to confirm a purchase on most items, a right many people are not aware of, he said.

Last month, the Fair Trade Commission issued a fine of NT$5.27 million (US$161,000) against the nation's largest TV shopping company, Eastern Home Shopping Network (東森購物), for bogus advertising.

"We cannot say our services are perfect, but we do our best to offer guarantees," said Randy Lee (李傳偉), vice president of Eastern Home, which runs four TV shopping channels.

The market is dominated by Eastern Home, which expects to rake in sales of more than NT$30 billion this year.

Fubon Multimedia Technology Co (富邦媒體科技) is in second place and ShopNet Co's (中購媒體科技) Viva ranks third.

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