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Consumers show a high level of dissatisfaction with refund policies regarding webtoon and webnovel services 2018-08-27

Consumers show a high level of dissatisfaction with refund policies regarding webtoon and webnovel services

- Transaction terms and conditions unfavorable to consumers need to be improved -

 

    Recently, the digital publishing platform market for webtoons, webnovels, etc. is rapidly growing, following a new phenomenon called “snack culture*.”

 

* A new cultural trend of consuming cultural resources in a short time like a snack that can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere

 

    The investigation about the transaction terms of eight (8) digital publishing platform service providers* for webtoons, webnovels, etc. conducted by the Korea Consumer Agency (President Hee-sook Lee) found that in most cases, refund procedures were cumbersome and complicated, and some platform service providers imposed restrictions on refunds in case of termination of a contract, thus showing need for improvement.

* Naver Webtoon, Daum Webtoon, Lezhin Comics, Battle Comics, KakaoPage, Comica, Comico, Toomics (eight (8) service providers with more than one (1) million Google Play Store mobile application downloads, in alphabetical order)

 75% of the investigated service providers apply complicated procedures for settling refund claims.

    Six (6) (75.0%) out of the eight (8) investigated service providers allowed consumers to apply for a refund only via‘Customer Center (Inquiry)’in their applications or‘email,’and consumers themselves had to fill out all the information associated with their contracts such as payment date and time, payment amount, payment method, captured image attachment, etc. And, in some cases, consumers were also required to submit additional supporting documents such as a mobile communications service membership verification letter, etc., indicating that the refund procedure was quite complicated.

    In fact, in a survey of 400 paid digital publishing platform service users, three (3) (29.0%) out of 10 respondents said that they felt discontent due to‘delays in payment cancellation and refund.’In addition, the survey showed a high level of consumer dissatisfaction with refund-related matters including‘no refund of remaining unused cash (24.5%),’‘complicated refund procedure (23.8%),’etc. (multiple responses).

 

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□ Some service providers apply transaction terms and conditions unfavorable to consumers.

    Three (3) (37.5%) out of the eight (8) investigated service providers did not give refunds for‘remaining unused cash,’and one (1) (12.5%) service provider contained provisions unfavorable to consumers in its transaction terms, for example,‘no refunds on discounted package items.’

 

    And with regard to service changes, some service providers stipulated in their transaction terms that they could make unilateral changes to services unfavorable or important to consumers by simply posting the service changes on their websites, causing consumer damage.

 

    Based on the investigation and survey results, the KCA recommended the service providers in question to simplify refund procedures, improve policies related to providing notices to consumers in case of service suspension and/or change, and improve unfair terms, including imposing restrictions on early contract termination, etc. (e.g. no refunds on the amount remaining partially unused). On top of that, it also plans to ask relevant organizations to improve policies related to notices to consumers in case of service suspension and/or change.

 

    Going forward, the KCA will keep making efforts to improve transaction terms and conditions unfavorable to consumers, and also contributing to realizing social values as an institute helping consumers make rational consumption decisions.

 

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