The Consumer Protection Comm-ission (CPC) has drafted a set of guidelines to protect consumers' rights when ordering frozen dinners for Lunar New Year's Eve.
About five years ago, convenience stores, supermarkets and hotels began offering frozen dishes for the traditional Lunar New Year's Eve dinner. However, the provision of such meals is not regulated, said Chiu Hui-mei (邱惠美), director-general of the Department of Legal Affairs at the CPC.
"Earlier this month, we negotiated with business operators and drafted a set of guidelines," she said.
Although the guidelines are not legally binding, business operators have pledged their cooperation, she added.
The guidelines require food producers to provide detailed information on their products and suppliers. The new regulations also make businesses accountable if they fail to deliver products as advertised, or on time.
In addition, businesses may not require their customers to return their copies of the bill of sale.
"The bill of sale is a consumer's legal proof of purchase [and helps to protect] their rights," Chiu said.
The guidelines also stipulate that consumers should be allowed to return products unconditionally and say this right should be stated in catalogs or on order forms.
"Consumers have the right to return products within seven days and refunds should be processed within 14 days," Chiu said.
Catalogs and orders forms are considered sales contracts, she added.
Consumers, on the other hand, are responsible for ensuring that products are in good condition when returned.
"You can still return a meal even if you have already heated it up," Chiu told the press conference. "But I would suggest that you don't return a product if you have already eaten some of it."
Customers also need to keep products fresh if they want to return them, she added.
The draft regulations will be reviewed by the commission next month and then forwarded to the Department of Health.
"Once the Department of Health adopts the regulations they will become legally binding," Chiu said.
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