This reporter was a victim of one of such websites. Although it claims to be an Australian site, the item was shipped from China. After waiting for two months to receive the parcel, a completely different item arrived. Contacting the customer care of the website via email, they only responded after two weeks, and after several emails, said they will resolve the problem. Over two months passed and the administration of the website even stopped responding. Finally, the entire website disappeared from the Internet.
As this website is not a local one and does not have an agent here, the customer protection department of the ministry of commerce and industry cannot provide any help. Mohammed from the customer protection department gave personal advice to online shoppers. He advised users to create an account on PayPal and pay through it. “PayPal will ensure your payment is refunded and the item returned if the seller sent you the wrong item. They will sue the seller if they are in any country and not just the United States. It happened with me and I returned the wrong items through PayPal, which also refunded the shipping fee, although the seller demanded I pay this fee,” he told Kuwait Times.
This is not the only case of cheating, and these unknown websites exploit the fact that they are in a different country, so it is difficult to sue them. It will also be very costly and not worth the value of the ordered item.
Furthermore, these unknown websites do not care for their reputation, as they are unknown in the first place, and most probably were launched temporarily to cheat people and then change their web address.
Even if some of these websites are legitimate and accept to refund or return the wrong item, it is still not fair for the customer. To return an item, the customer will have to pay the shipping fee twice, which is already expensive. The customer will also pay customs duties twice. All these charges may be higher than the value of the ordered item. So the customer will just keep the item even if it wasn’t what they ordered.
Paying on delivery is safer and ensures paying for the correct item. But this is not available for all websites. Some websites, especially in the GCC, provide this option. Some have been popular since more than 10 years, such as Souq or Sukar that are based in the UAE. Other popular local and Gulf shopping applications which also offer payment on delivery are Sevi, Non, Shein, Brandat, Boutiqaat and many others. These will ensure hassle-free shopping and legal protection by the ministry of commerce.
According to the official PayPal website, the PayPal buyer protection covers them when something goes wrong. It states that the buyer will get a full refund if an eligible order isn’t significantly as described, or doesn’t arrive. It also mentions that it will refund the return shipping cost on eligible purchases with refunded return service.