Shenzhen to Improve Futher in Consumer RIghts
The Draft Amendment to the Consumer Protection Law aims to further protect consumer rights and boost domestic demand in the country, and has made revisions to the current law in the following five areas namely Strengthening the obligations and duties of business operator, Regulating the e-commerce industry;Clarifying the rules of consumer associations, Clarifying the regulatory responsibilities of administrative authorities and Enhancing rules concerning consumer rights protection.
Then a further revision to the Consumer Protection Law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for deliberation.2hich further enhanced consumer rights protection in the following areas: Strengthening the joint liabilities of false advertisement publishers, Improving the return of goods without reason system, Raising punitive damages, Emphasizing the “public benefit function” of consumer associations; and Establishing a credit file system to record illegal acts.
Strengthening the joint liabilities of false advertisement publishers
The Second Draft provides that the advertising agents and those designing, producing and publicizing false advertisement of products or services should bear joint liability if such products and services have caused harm to consumers.
Moreover, the Second Draft introduces a new paragraph, providing that social groups, organizations and individuals that endorse goods or services to consumers through false advertising shall bear joint and several liabilities. This means celebrities could be held liable for false advertising if they endorse a product that causes harm to consumers.
Improving the “return of goods without reason” system
The First Draft allows a seven-day period for shoppers to unconditionally return the products they bought for refunds. Specifically, for goods sold via the Internet, television, telephone, or mail order, consumers have the right to return the goods within seven days from the date of receipt of the goods, and the amount paid by consumers shall be paid back within seven days upon the receipt of the returned goods by the seller.
Raising punitive damages
Compared with the current Consumer Protection Law, the First Draft has imposed harsher penalties on business operators who defraud consumers, and additional compensation for commercial fraud could be equivalent to twice the value of goods or services, with a minimum fine of RMB500.
However, many legislators believe such fines are still too low and cannot serve as a sufficient deterrent. Therefore, the Second Draft raises the punitive damages paid by the business operators who defraud consumers to three times the price of the products or the service charges paid by consumers.
Emphasizing the “public benefit function” of consumer associations
The First Draft requires consumer associations to provide consumption information and consultation services to consumers and participate in the legislation of laws, regulations and relevant standards concerning consumer rights and interests. The Second Draft further emphasizes the “public benefit function” of consumer associations and calls for support from government at all levels to provide assistance and funds to such associations.
Establishing a credit file to record illegal acts
The Second Draft requires business operators to abide by State laws and regulations, and run businesses based on good faith. Moreover, regarding illegal acts – such as false advertising, passing a defective product off as a high-quality one, or passing a substandard product off as a standard one – these acts will be recorded into a credit file system and be announced to the public.