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Shopee commits to process refunds, return requests within average of 2½ working days

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With e-commerce complaints such as wrong deliveries or faulty products on the rise, one big player has committed to raising standards to reduce such occurrences across the board.

Shopee Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding with the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) on Thursday to adopt a new dispute resolution framework to better ensure customer satisfaction. 

Under this new collaboration, Shopee is committing to resolving refunds and return requests within an average of 2½ working days and offering free returns at 112 POPStations islandwide, among other things.

This is comparable with the three working days suggested by Lazada, lower than the seven working days suggested by Case. 

These changes were announced at Shopee’s launch of its new consumer protection initiative, Shop Safe with Shopee, at the company’s office on Thursday.

Under this initiative, Shopee has also committed to improve seller verification, adding more comprehensive and useful descriptions of online products and better crackdown against prohibited listings.

Some examples of prohibited listings seized by the authorities in recent years include sexual enhancement products, male vitality supplements and illegal wildlife items.

Case president Melvin Yong said: “Online shopping has become an integral part of our daily lives... While e-commerce and online transactions have made life easier for many of us, they also carry significant risks and dangers.”

He said Case has observed an increase in consumer complaints pertaining to online purchases, from 2,206 complaints in 2021 to 2,530 in 2022.

They accounted for about 14 per cent and 17 per cent of total complaints received by Case in 2021 and 2022 respectively, he added.

Common complaints include missing items, failed deliveries and defective or non-conforming goods.

Mr Yong said: “I am therefore happy that Shopee, a major e-marketplace for Singapore consumers, has agreed to implement the Standard Dispute Management Framework for e-marketplaces with a shortened resolution time period for returns and refund requests.”

Grab driver Loo Teck Heng, 55, said he had been frequently disgruntled over products and services offered by e-commerce platforms, and is looking forward to better protections for consumers with Shopee’s new commitments.

Mr Loo said his family once ordered a foldable bed from an e-commerce platform and received a safety pin instead.

“It was troublesome getting a refund, which required so many steps such as speaking to a seller... As an older person, I sometimes struggle with the interface on these apps and need help from my son,” he said.

“If you want consumers to continue using e-commerce apps, you need to ensure reliability and honesty on all fronts.”

Attending the event as a guest of honour, Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth, said that as e-commerce becomes more central to everyday lives, digital marketplaces that adopt fair trading practices and a robust dispute management framework will enjoy a higher level of trust from consumers.

“Consumers will well appreciate the presence of strong consumer safeguards as the degree of risks associated with online purchases has grown with the breadth and speed of online shopping, said Ms Low.

“The Government will continue to work closely with Case and the retail sector to deepen consumer protection and promote fair business practices for a healthy and vibrant retail industry.”

Shoppinge-commercePOLITICS AND GOVERNMENT