Research from the Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC) showed that people nationwide last year made 45 percent of their purchases online, mostly from Chinese services that offer no dispute resolution, the institute said.
Of all online purchases last year, 69.5 percent were made using Chinese online shopping services Taobao and TMall, and despite the popularity of the Web sites, 41.4 percent of respondents said that they worried about having no way to resolve purchase disputes, the research showed.
The pervasiveness of counterfeit goods on Taobao since 2011 has caused the Office of the US Trade Representative to blacklist the service and advice people against using it, the institute said.
The Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce has said that only 37.25 percent of the products sold through the service meet its standards, discrediting Taobao founder Jack Ma’s (馬雲) assertions that the service does not sell fake goods, the institute added.
Purchases from China also present other dangers, the organization said, adding that the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau once discovered Trojan horse computer viruses on hard disk drives purchased from China.
The viruses transmited users’ personal information to computer servers in Beijing, it said.
Over-the-top streaming media players also present a legal risk to consumers, as they frequently stream pirated content, thereby violating copyright laws, the organization said.
Safety is not guaranteed when buying online through Chinese Web sites, it said, adding that mobile phone power banks purchased directly from China have not been approved by the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection and could be at risk of catching fire.
If an accident occurs with such a product, the consumer has no avenue to pursue compensation, the institute said.
People should avoid purchasing herbal medicine, live plants, or tobacco or liquor products from China over the Internet, as that could result in a lawsuit, lawyer Tai Chih-chuan (戴智權) said.
Many herbal medicines are for sale on Taobao, but they have not been approved by Taiwanese authorities and their side effects could be harmful, he said.
Tai cited the case of a Taiwanese buyer who purchased herbal virility medications from Taobao that were not government-approved and was subsequently sentenced to 50 days in jail after the items were discovered by customs officials.
In another case, a man who purchased 75 bottles of electric cigarette fluid from Taobao was sentenced to four months in prison when the bottles were found by customs, Tai said.
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