A customer shops online. — VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
HÀ NỘI — About 30,000 e-commerce stores were taken down in the first nine months of this year due to trade fraud, counterfeit and contraband goods, and the scale of the problem is looking daunting.
Lê Đức Anh, director of the Centre for Information and Digital Technology under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that consumers had changed their traditional shopping habits and switched to online more over the past five years, especially after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the fact that stores were selling counterfeit and contraband goods had caused consumer confidence to fall on e-commerce platforms.
This is clearly shown by the numbers of cases authorities have detected and punished. Specifically, e-commerce inspectors, together with market management forces, had checked over 2,400 cases and handled over 2,200 e-commerce violations, while issuing fines of nearly VNĐ17 billion (US$730,500).
The Việt Nam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency co-operated with the Việt Nam Competition and Consumer Protection Authority and the Department of Cyber Security and High-tech Crime Prevention under the Ministry of Public Security to investigate suspected violators and fined them VNĐ173 million in the first nine months of this year.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said that it had asked e-commerce platforms to review and remove nearly 223,600 online stores and more than one million products this year, handling over 30,000 stores with nearly 48,000 product violations.
In addition, the Việt Nam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency has sent warnings to users about online fraud.
Counterfeit goods are threatening people's livelihoods, as well as affecting the reputation of genuine businesses.
Experts said they had received hundreds of complaints from consumers about commercial fraud on e-commerce platforms. They mainly involved people paying for their goods but not receiving them, poor quality products and services, and stolen personal information.
Information theft, financial fraud and disturbing advertisements were the sad reality of e-commerce in Việt Nam today, said experts.
Economist Võ Trí Thành said that handling violations was very difficult as inspecting and tracking "virtual enterprises” was not so simple.
Meanwhile, sanctioning stopped at administrative punishments, but the profits some firms were making were very high, so violations remained rampant.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade said that in order to handle the problem of counterfeit goods, tighten trading on e-commerce platforms and enhance consumer trust, it had been studying and preparing a draft amendment for Decree 52. The draft would introduce stricter regulations for mandatory information for companies that operated on e-commerce platforms, increased responsibility for shop owners, and regulations for social networks on which e-commerce transactions took place, along with stiffer penalties.
For consumers to truly trust online channels, experts said stores needed to restore confidence and improve the quality of goods and accompanying services such as delivery and dispute resolution. — VNS