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Consumer complaints related to overseas online purchase increased significantly 2018-02-26

Consumer complaints related to overseas online purchase increased significantly

- Overseas purchasing agents, complaints mostly involved ‘refusal to cancel and refund’-


    There has been a growing number of complaints among consumers as overseas purchase has become a new consumption pattern. According to the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA), in 2017, consumer complaints related to overseas online purchases* totaled 15,118 cases, which was a 53.8% increase compared to 2016 (9,832 cases).


  * Consumer complaints reported to ‘Cross Border Transaction Consumer Portal(crossborder.kca.go.kr)’ run by the Korea Consumer Agency and to ‘1372 Consumer Consultation Center’


□ ‘Overseas purchasing agent’-related complaints accounted for more than half of all complaints, and increased by 33% year-on-year.

    ‘Overseas purchasing agent’-related complaints accounted for the highest share(52.4%) of all consumer complaints. Meanwhile,‘overseas direct purchases’increased by 116.3% year-on-year, requiring consumers’ attention when purchasing products directly from foreign websites.


[ The status of overseas online purchase-related complaints ]

   (Unit: number of cases, %)




Rate of Increase

Overseas Purchasing Agent




Overseas Direct Purchase




Overseas Shipping Agent












* unknown transaction type


□ The most common cause of complaints regarding overseas purchasing agents was ‘refusal to cancel or refund (about 34%).’

    Among a total of 7,913 complaints involving‘overseas purchasing agents’reported last year,‘refusal to cancel or refund’accounted for the highest share (33.9% or 2,686 cases), followed by‘unfair cancellation penalties or service fees (25.2% or 1,990 cases), and‘shipping to wrong address and shipment delays (13.4% or 1,063 cases).’


Only 2.5% of the products investigated indicated details of the final selling price including service fees.


< Investigation Overview >

(Subject of Investigation) 4 overseas purchasing agents*(11Street, Auction, Wizwid, Gmarket)

* based on the result of ‘the investigation of consumer damage involving overseas direct purchase’ conducted in 2016

(Content of Investigation) transaction terms for 10 products (randomly selected) for each of the 4  product categories** (‘clothing & shoes’, ‘personal belongings’, ‘food & medicine’, and ‘electronic   products’)

** best-selling product categories of overseas purchasing agents in 2016 and 2017

(Investigation Period) Nov. 20. 2017 ~ Dec. 1. 2017


    If overseas purchasing agents indicate details of the final selling price including price of overseas purchase, international shipping charge, service fee, import duty, and VAT, separately, disputes over cancellation and refund fees can be avoided. However, it was revealed that only 4 out of the 160 products investigated indicated details of the selling price separately.

    In accordance with the Act on the Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce, etc., a consumer who has signed a contract with an overseas purchasing agent on the purchase of products may cancel his or her order relating to the relevant contract within 7 days from the day the products have been supplied except for exceptional cases. However, it has been shown that in many cases, overseas purchasing agents show a sign saying ‘no return and exchange’on their websites, and arbitrarily shorten return and exchange periods (e.g.‘within 24 hours’ or ‘within 3 days’), which needs to be improved.

    Based on the results of the investigation, the KCA has recommended that overseas purchasing agents indicate details of their final selling price including return fee and shipping charge, voluntarily improve indications regarding cancellation of order, and strengthen supervision of stores selling products at their shopping sites.

    The KCA will continue to place an emphasis on preventing consumer damage related to overseas purchase, and resolving problems causing consumer inconvenience.

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