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Be Aware: Online Shopping Sites Written in Korean May Be Overseas Purchase Shops 2016-09-02

Be Aware: Online Shopping Sites Written in Korean May Be Overseas Purchase Shops


- Double-checking exchange and refund policy is needed -



    An analysis of consumer complaints about overseas purchase that the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) received in the first half of 2016, shows that more than half of the dissatisfactions reported were related to shipping, cancellation and refund.

    ※ the amount of complaints about overseas purchase received in the first half of this year is 256, 100 of which in 1Q and the rest in 2Q.


    □ A big increase in dissatisfaction with cancellation and refund services.

    As of the first half of 2016, the total number of complaints, reported to 1372 Consumer Counselling Center and Cross Border Transaction Consumer Portal, amounts to 256. The top reason is shipping-related issues including ‘delayed shipping, false delivery, and breakages (29.3%),’ followed by ‘delay or refusal on cancellation and refund (25.8%),’ ‘out of contact/discontinuing business (12.5%).’ and ‘defective items/warranty policy (11.7%).’

* counselling information via the portals started to be included from 1Q

    Compared to 1Q, 2Q showed a hike in complaints relevant to ‘delay or refusal on cancellation and refund,’ along with a slight increase in ones related to ‘out of contact/website closed-down’ and ‘payment.’


    Unlike the past when only a few items were handled mainly during counselling, we have more diverse items to deal with: ‘clothes/shoes (30.4%),’ ‘personal belongings (bags, accessories, etc.) (17%),’ ‘IT/home appliances (computer, mobile phone, etc.) (10.6%),’ ‘hobby supplies (books, toys, sporting goods) (9.4%),’ and others.




    □ A great deal of damage occurs, which comes from seller’s refusal on cancellation of order due to consumer’s impulse buying

    Quite a few complaints are reported to the KCA that some of the overseas online malls written in Korean which consumers are informed through advertisements on social networks and price comparison sites do not provide cancellation services. Apparently, there are no ways to cancel the orders for which consumers have already paid.


    In conformity with Act on the Consumer Protection in the Electronic Commerce Transactions, etc., consumer’s cooling-off right is acknowledged at Korean online shopping malls. However, overseas online shopping malls are not covered by the Act, but the rule of the country where a business is located. So consumers must meticulously check if such malls acknowledge cooling-off right, and if so, how to exercise their right. But many of them do not seem to check it out, which leads to consumer damage.


    There are plenty of overseas online malls, unlike domestic ones, which do not accept cancellation requests that simply come from consumers’ whim or impose a huge amount of cancellation fees on consumers. Therefore, consumers need to make much wiser buying decision.




    □ Consumers should check terms and conditions

    When overseas purchasing, consumers desirably need to be engaged in transaction after checking out terms and conditions, particularly being informed of the rules related to changing order and cancellation. They should also be aware of the occasions in which payment is made only with credit card number at some overseas online malls.


     Consumers can enjoy chargeback* service from credit card companies when unexpected damage occurs, such as extra-charge, non-shipping, losing contact of businesses. However, disputes regarding counterfeit selling and to whom to charge international shipping costs are still not easy to settle.

* a system in which credit card companies pay back its customers with overseas transaction issues by reclaiming from the sellers.


    The KCA has run Cross Border Transaction Consumer Portal (http://crossborder.kca.go.kr) since October 2015 as a part of Government 3.0 for facilitating safe overseas purchase and provides guideline for preventing consumer damage from overseas purchase as well as tariff, customs clearance, parallel import information. In order to prevent such damage, consumers should refer to the Guideline for Overseas Direct Purchase Consumers’ and ’Check-list of Protecting Damages from Overseas Direct Purchase’


    The KCA has also signed MOUs* to redress Korean consumer damage effectively with consumer agencies in other countries including the U.S., Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. In case of damage occurred from using online malls based in these countries, consumers can report to the cross border portal for redressing the damage. Then the agency delivers the issue to the partner institutions, gets response from them, and tells the result to the damaged consumers.

    * Vietnam (Vietnam Competition Authority, June, 2015), Japan (National Consumer Affairs Centre, July, 2015), U.S. (Council of Better Business Bureaus, May, 2016), Thailand (Office of the Consumer Protection Board, June, 2016)



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