Scams and Unwanted Marketing

10 common consumption traps

Updated: Dec 13, 2018 Print
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6. No outside food or drinks allowed in cinemas

Many consumers may have encountered such a scene: snacks and drinks purchased outside are not allowed in the cinema. The cinema requires that only popcorns and drinks purchased at the cinema can be brought into the theater.

Basis for rights protection: The “no outside food or drinks allowed in cinemas” rule established by the cinemas are imparity clauses. This extra obligation imposed on one party is actually legally invalid. Article 9 of the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests of the People’s Republic of China clearly stipulates: "Consumers have the right to choose the operators who provide goods or services independently, choose the product varieties or service methods, and decide whether to purchase some goods or accept any service."

7. Minimum spending

In recent years, some restaurants, cafes and other places have set a minimum spending amount. Customers in these places, whether willing or not, must pay at least the minimum amount of money set by the operator, and the exceeding part is calculated according to the actual price. As a hidden rule prevalent in the catering industry, it infringes on the legitimate rights and interests of consumers and leads to waste.

Basis for rights protection: The Supreme People's Court made it clear that the “no outside drinks” and “the minimum spending in private rooms” in the catering industry are imparity clauses. These are unfair and unreasonable regulations for consumers. The Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests of the People’s Republic of China also stipulates that operators must by no means make unfair or unreasonable provisions for consumers to exclude or restrict consumer rights, or enhance consumer’s liabilities.

8. Sale itemwith inflated original price

During festivals, a large number of shopping malls would offer discounted goods, coupons, and premium sales. However, some merchants use this promotion to set sales traps by raising the original price and then reduce the price in the name of promotion, such as the "lowest price" and "most cost-effective", "70 percent off" and "limited time offer" to attract consumers.

Basis for rights protection: These acts violate the principle of fairness, legality and honesty in the pricing in the Price Law and the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests of the People’s Republic of China. These acts constitute price fraud or violate the price law, seriously infringing on the consumers' rights and interests.

9. Pre-paid trap

In recent years, “prepaid consumption” has gradually become the mainstream in the consumer industry, and it is widely used in many service sectors such as education and training, beauty salons, tourism, car washing, fitness, and supermarkets. “Prepaid consumption” means that the consumer deposits a certain amount of money to the operator in advance, and the merchant provides service according to their agreement, often promised to offer additional discounts. However, there are widespread problems such as false advertisement, shrinking services, compulsory services, imparity clauses, arbitrarily suspension of services, price changes in disguise, illegal business entities, malicious fraud, and runaway bosses.

Basis for rights protection: According to the relevant provisions of the Law on Consumer Protection of Rights and Interests of the People’s Republic of China, the Measures for the Administration of Single-Use Commercial Prepaid Cards (Trial), the operation of issuing pre-paid cards for single use needs to be filed and the system of deposit of funds for enterprises must be established. The goods or services must be provided in accordance with the contract. The agreement shall be fulfilled accordingly or the advance payment shall be refunded based on the requirements of the consumer.

10. Misleading online shops

Some online shops operators use pictures of authentic products and claim what they sell are genuine to lure consumers with low prices. When consumers find that their online purchases are not as good as the former description and claim the return, the merchant may make excuses that "the pictures are for advertisement purpose, please refer to the actual item for reference" and refuse to return. Such cases are quite common.

Basis for rights protection: Article 25 of the Law on Consumer Protection of Rights and Interests of the People’s Republic of China confers consumers the right to return online purchases without reason within seven days (after signing in), and Article 55 gives consumers the right to claim compensation worth of three times the original purchase price for frauds made by merchants.

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