Consumers have been warned to beware of fraudsters when shopping online as unscrupulous firms have continued to take hundreds of unsuspecting victims for a ride.
And, sadly, the number of consumers conned by online scammers is growing according to Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO), Magauta Mphahlele’s report for the third quarter of 2021.
“The number of complaints involving online fraud, where consumers paid for but never received goods or services, was also notably higher this quarter,” the CGSO report noted.
“One such outfit that was in clear contravention of section 19 of the CPA, which governs suppliers’ obligations in terms of the delivery of goods or services and their responsibility in the event they are unable to deliver, was Wiegenkind Boutique,” the ombudsman’s office warned.
“The CGSO issued a consumer warning against it for fraudulent and unethical behaviour that included either failing to deliver goods or delivering the wrong goods. Based on these complaints, Wiegenkind is engaging in classic bait marketing, whereby the online shop advertises products as being available, knowing very well that they do not have sufficient stock,” the CGSO warned.
“As soon as payment is made, consumers are told that the goods are out of stock, and the promised refunds either never materialise, or there is an unreasonable delay in refunding customers,” the CGSO said.
Of the 38 formal complaints lodged against the outlet, only one has been successfully resolved by the supplier.
The CGSO has since reported Wiegenkind to the NCC for non-cooperation.
“We continue to urge consumers to exercise caution when dealing with new or unfamiliar online brands or e-commerce portals and will continue to issue media alerts regarding suppliers who persistently flout the CPA and fail to cooperate with our office in resolving complaints,” the CGSO said.
Her office also recently issued a warning against ANA ELEVEN, another online clothing store that notched up 328 complaints in nine months.
“Despite lengthy discussions between this office and ANA ELEVEN in which the supplier undertook to resolve all complaints by August, they failed to do so. A number of these cases have since been reported to NCC,” the CGSO said.