Online shopping scams becoming inevitable risk

ISLAMABAD  -  The influx of online shopping websites and social media platforms have undoubtedly made the life of citizens much easier by making all accessories available at their doorsteps after a little effort of making online orders.

However, the risks associated to online shopping still loom large on the buyers if they purchase costly items through websites or social media platforms - not registered with any regulatory body. As hundreds of online shopping websites and social media platforms including Whatsapp groups, Instagram and Facebook pages are operating in the country to provide variety of goods, some known brands among them are credible. But, there is also a large number of fake websites and Facebook pages created in the names of famous brands to befool buyers by showing the actual brands but delivering substandard stuff.

Usually the buyers are asked to pay online through credit cards and the carriers coming for delivery do not show you commodity or deliver the parcel before charging the agreed amount. Once this payment is made, these guys immediately leave and the buyer astonishes seeing substandard stuff or replica or copied items of the original brands contrary, packed in that parcel. “The fake websites are even using exact names and logos of the famous brands and anyone can hardly feel the difference between original and the fake ones,” said Shaista Rubab, a working woman.

Sharing her experience, she informed, “I placed the order of two dresses on a popular brand website after fulfilling all the requirements. A man from a famous courier company delivered a packet to my office, received payment and left.” “But, when I opened the packet, both the dresses were totally opposite to what I had ordered by seeing the pictures,” she added. “I was taken aback by the poor quality of fabric and embroidery on these dresses.”

She stated that even the phone number mentioned on the TCS packet I had received, was fake. “This was a lesson for me and I decided never to rely again on online shopping and started physically going to stores for shopping.”

“But, this is illegal. Many others could have also been deceived like me,” she asserted demanding from concerned authorities a strict action against such swindlers.

Murad Ali Khan, a government employee also shared a similar experience. “I had ordered a few dresses for my wife through a Facebook Page showing good quality items. But when I received the order after payment, it was altogether different product - poor in quality and meant for men.” “I tried complaining on the cell number provided on their Facebook page but it didn’t respond. I tried to write my comments and reviews on the page but the page had restrictions,” he said.

This is the saga of many others wherein both the male and female buyers are deceived fleecing their hard earned money. “I liked a jacket through an online shopping website (local) and I got crazy to buy it as it was showing a few items left. The only mode of payment was through credit card so I paid it to ensure that it does not go out of stock.” “But, it is two months since I placed the order and am still waiting this jacket,” he stated. “Obviously, it was my mistake to blindly follow this websites and place an order. But, there should be some mechanism to track these charlatans.” The tempting sale offers on fake online shopping sites attract hundreds of thousands buyers with many among them deceived later on. Paying them money is easier but recovering it when they deliver wrong orders, is yet another uphill task. Saeeda Naz states this story of recovery revealing how much painstaking it was. “I bought a portable juicer and a grinder machine from one of leading e-commerce platforms. But unfortunately both the items mismatched the specifications revealed on website.” 

Therefore, she said, she decided to return these items and after relentless efforts in tracking delivery boys and sellers, the company agreed to return money.

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