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CCA: Sales Promotion in Wechat Moments, Benefits Come with Risks
—— 2016-03-14 ——

Since last year, consumer complaints about sales promotion in Wechat moments keep cropping up. For example, Mr. Ma from Shandong Province learned from his Wechat moments that the health products of a famous brand were being sold at bargain price and each box was RMB 80 yuan lower than that in physical stores. He was tempted and made the payment via Wechat. He received the products, but he found that the packing was broken, the color of the products looked strange compared with what he bought before, and the date of manufacture was illegible. For this reason, Mr. Ma requested to return the products, but the seller ignored his request, blacklisted him and could no longer be reached.

A Chongqing consumer Ms. Liu planned to buy a scarf of a foreign brand for her mother’s birthday. A friend recommended her to buy one from a girlfriend in a Wechat moments as a purchasing agent from Australia. According to the introduction, the scarf with the original price of RMB 2500 yuan was only sold at RMB 800 yuan in the Wechat moments. Ms. Liu also suspected of the quality due to the too low price, but the seller explained that the quality was no problem and the price was lower because it was not purchased directly from a physical store and thus saved the consumption tax. Shortly afterwards, the scarf was received from Australia. But, after opening the package, Ms. Liu found immediately that the scarf was felt different when touching it by hands. When she took it to a brand store for examination, the technician told her that the scarf was a very good copy.

Consumers can easily find on social networks some friends’ sales promotion of cosmetics, health products, beauty services and other goods and services, or releasing information about buying things through overseas purchasing agents in Wechat moments. Since these promotions are strongly recommended by friends and prices are so low, many consumers would like to have a try. At the moment, the most common way of sales is to promote goods and services through Wechat moments. A common characteristic of this kind of Wechat momnets is to make use of close relations between friends or indirect social acquaintance to conduct a transaction. Since sales or purchasing by agent are conducted privately and without corresponding bills, once a consumption dispute occurs, it would be difficult to protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. In this connection, CCA presents the following prompts to all consumers.

First, consumers should not easily trust ultra low-price sales and purchasing, especially over overseas purchasing by agent in Wechat moments. Due to the higher international freight charge, it’s usually not likely to have too much discounts for overseas purchasing by agent. Consumers need to pay attention to information verification and buy cautiously when the price of goods and services is much lower than normal price. Consumers are suggested not to easily purchase commodities that may harm personal health and safety, including food, health products and cosmetics.

Second, consumers should not excessively trust the assessments shared in Wechat moments. Some consumers have reported that some “successful” stores in their Wechat moments use software to fake information at will, including the trading volume, trading screenshot, head portraits, names, conversations and assessments of both sellers and buyers to win the trust of friends in the Wechat. In this connection, all consumers should keep sober-minded and not too believe the assessments shared in their circles of friends. Pictures are not necessarily true. Consumers need to ask and check more and strengthen their identification ability through more communications with knowing friends.

Third, consumers need to keep the records of transactions and complain and report any problem discovered. Sales promotion in Wechat moments is different from those of online and physical stores and platforms as most sales promotions lack the guarantee of a third party. In this case, when consumers’ rights and interests are infringed upon, it would lack relevant evidences to effectively protect their legitimate rights and interests. Even so, consumers still need to verify the name, location and other information of the seller and try to choose the payment channel guaranteed by a third-party platform. Consumers should also record their chatting and trading contents and information of the seller for the convenience of safeguarding their rights and interests on the one hand and providing evidences to relevant departments and units if necessary and thus disclosing and supervising the infringement of sellers.

Social network platforms should actively intensify their regulations on and guidance of behaviors in Wechat moments and prompt the public to guard against trading risks in due time. At the same time, social network platforms should work harder to supervise infringement acts on their platforms, such as forged and fake commodity marketing, misleading propaganda and privacy disclosure, and build a safe protective net for the public. Consumers should immediately report to public security departments once discovering any behavior suspected of pyramid marketing, illegal fund-raising or fraudulence in their Wechat moments.

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