Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers about the popularity of home shopping in their countries and their experiences with television shopping. Here are some responses.
Lee Phil, Korean, HCM City
I have lived in Viet Nam for five years and noticed that home shopping is still unfamiliar to most people here. The general feeling is that this kind of shopping is unreliable and common questions are about how to order or how to make payments or claim for compensation.
Starting in July 1, foreign visitors to Viet Nam can get their value-added tax refunded on departure from the Noi Bai or Tan Son Nhat airports.
The visitors should submit the tax refund application and have their listed products checked, before receiving the money. The items will be transferred to the cargo section, or taken by the passengers as hand luggage.
The goods are required to be new and not on the list of prohibited items. A valid invoice with a value of at least VND2 million (US$95) is required.
The refund will be made in Viet Nam dong and can be converted to other currencies later. To qualify for a VAT refund, a declaration form must be filled out within 30 days from the date of departure.
The pilot program will last until June 30, 2014, giving refunds for purchases at airports, tourism zones and several places in big cities. However, many foreigners complain that they are not aware of the policies and the procedures are too complicated.
Are you aware of the new policy? Do you think the new scheme will help boost Viet Nam's tourism and increase your spending in the country? How do you think we can make Customs procedures easier for foreigners to claim the refund?
Please reply by email to: email@example.com, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, July 12.
I prefer traditional shopping. It is always fun to go around with friends, selecting goods to take home. However, life is becoming busier and sometimes I do not have time to go out so I pick up the phone or do some computer clicks to buy things I want.
I sometimes purchase clothes from Korea via on-line shops. The goods and service is quite good. Once, I was attracted by a TV advertisement about a sporting device to help trim the stomach.
It seemed perfect and the price was very reasonable, so I ordered one.
Guess what happened? I got into trouble with the instructions. They were too complicated and I had to make many calls for help before finding that one part of the device was missing.
I left the machine in a corner for two months after realising it is not the product for me. Maybe with traditional shopping, I could avoid this type of mistake.
In my country, TV shopping is becoming popular with many busy people. However, I think traditional shopping is the better choice.
Dinh Ngoc Mai, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I bought a vacuum cleaner via television several years ago. It cost me more than VND1 million (US$480). I turned it on once long ago.
The advertisement on TV was so attractive and the price quite reasonable, so I ordered it without hesitation. It was quickly delivered to my door.
However, I was completely disappointed with the power of the vacuum cleaner when I used it for the first time. I never used it again.
I bought another one. This time, I went directly to a supermarket to choose one. I was satisfied with my choice. I will never buy another item sold on television.
I learned for myself that consumers should be wise when they shop because no - one will protect them and their pockets better than themselves.
Consumers should boycott products sold by TV shopping companies found to cheat. Then, they would be forced to close.
Paul Wilson, Australian, Ha Noi
I am from Melbourne and live and work in Ha Noi. I have never bought any things from TV shopping companies in my country or in Viet Nam.
I prefer Internet shopping and sometimes doing traditional shopping when I have time.
Internet shopping is more convenient and popular in my country than TV shopping. I often purchase books on-line. Traditional shopping, to me, is for relaxation.
I am still doubtful about the quality of items sold via television.
Pirre Bermond, French,Ha Noi
TV shopping is wonderful. My mother likes watching TV shopping channels and sometimes order items for her kitchen. She said that the quality of the products is fine.
Selling products directly via television is just a business. As any other business, a TV shopping company must satisfy customers if it wants to earn profits.
Most customers would not buy again from a company that let them down or even cheated them, especially on their first try.
Those who sell goods on television or the internet should be careful about the quality of their products. Advertisements should be attractive and interesting, but not exaggerated.
The ordering process, including payments, should be reliable and convenient. And customer care should be available seven days a week.
Le Huong Tra, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I'd prefer to go to the market rather than buy goods via TV shopping because this gives me an opportunity to evaluate and judge the quality of goods with my own eyes.
TV shopping is one of my favourite channels for learning about new products.
However, at times the real quality of a product seems to be exaggerated. This is obvious when 30 minutes of the programme is spent on repeating how the product works and how wonderful it is at its price.
I was tempted to buy a set of appliances to trim fruit and bulbs before realising that it was impractical.
Price is also another issue. Products advertised on TV shopping seem to be more expensive than those sold in the traditional way. While a yoghurt-making machine can cost VND600,000 ($29) on TV, it might cost half that much in the broader market-place – before bargaining.
While TV shopping can be a great solution for busy people, I think it is necessary to think twice before purchasing anything this way.
Mull over whether the goods are really necessary and worth the price. As long as I have time, I'd prefer to go to the real market where I can compare. — VNS