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Consumer complaints against online businesses in SG skyrocket to 47% in 2023: report

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Azunta Gaviola

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3 months ago

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Singapore – Following the increasing e-commerce complaints in the country, the latest report by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) recorded a total of 3,711 consumer complaints against online businesses and marketplaces. This marked a significant increase of 47% in 2023 compared to the 2,530 complaints received in 2022.

In this report, CASE observed that one in five of these cases involves consumers not receiving their orders within the agreed delivery timeframe. Another 17% of them included complaints about consumers being unable to receive refunds within the specified timelines set by businesses.

Furthermore, the association noted a total of 13,991 complaints in 2023, marking a 24% decrease from the 15,144 complaints received in 2022. While complaints decreased across various industries, there was an 8% increase in the motorcar industry, primarily due to a rise in complaints related to rental or shared cars.

As complaints involving rental or shared cars nearly tripled, the report also recorded the escalating number of complaints from 152 in 2022 to 435 complaints in 2023. These grievances often revolved around disputes concerning pre-existing defects, damages, and repair charges imposed by rental or car-sharing businesses on consumers due to alleged damages.

Interestingly, findings also revealed that complaint levels for the travel and airline industries have also stabilised to pre-2020 levels, primarily because of the easing of travel restrictions.

This resulted in fewer complaints regarding trip cancellations, noting a significant 38% decrease in complaints in the travel industry, dropping from 757 complaints in 2022 to 471 complaints in 2023.

In the same way, a 22% decrease was also observed in the airline industry, with 478 complaints in 2022 dropping to 375 complaints in 2023.

Talking about the report, Melvin Yong, president at CASE, shared, “CASE is deeply concerned about the 47% surge in complaints from 2022 to 2023. The high percentage of complaints against e-businesses is also a cause for concern. That is why CASE launched the CaseTrust Accreditation Scheme for E-Businesses last year to help consumers identify reliable e-businesses that are committed to fair trading and consumer-friendly policies.”

“Currently, 11 e-businesses have applied for accreditation, and CaseTrust is assessing their applications. CASE will be stepping up efforts to encourage e-businesses to apply for accreditation, which will foster a trusted e-commerce environment for all,” Yong further continued.

In addition, out of the 13,991 complaints received in 2023, CASE offered advice to 84% of the consumers on resolving their disputes with businesses. They have further aided 16% of them in negotiating and mediating their disputes with businesses. Among the complaints where parties were open to negotiation, 76% were successfully resolved.

“We are happy to see an overall decrease in consumer complaints in 2023. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to strengthen consumer protection and address common consumer pain points. CASE will continue to engage the government and industry stakeholders to strengthen consumer safeguards and put a stop to undesirable business practices,” he concluded.

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