Word of the day | Dropshipping on the rise
The Economic Inspectorate of the FPS Economy has already received half as many reports about problems with online orders than for the whole of 2019. A separate category of deception that is on the rise is ‘dropshipping’.
A total of 14,404 reports have already been received this year, compared to 9,454 last year. That equates to an increase of 52 percent, but the end-of-year period has to be added to that. One explanation could be that more Belgians are making online purchases due to the corona crisis.
A notable new trend is unfair trading practices and dropshipping fraud. In addition, the buyer is lured to unknown web shops through promotions on social media. It often seems as if the seller is selling homemade or unique things on a small scale. But that is purely apparent: the ‘seller’ has no stock himself and has everything delivered via an external supplier, usually from Asia, who sends the goods. This often takes weeks to months.
“With dropshipping, the seller does not keep stock himself,” says spokeswoman Chantal De Pauw of the FPS Economy. ‘The goods usually do not meet expectations. For example, it is not about the product in the photos, it is of inferior quality and quickly breaks or is even downright unsafe. Returns are usually only possible to China or another distant country, at your expense, which is often more expensive than the ordered product. ‘
Counterfeit or unsafe
Dropshipping is not illegal in itself, but some web shops employ deceptive practices or are set up fraudulently. The webshop often does not state which company is responsible for it and does not provide any contact details. Often the site becomes unavailable shortly after a wave of ads on social media.
A second problem is that the product is often presented in a misleading way, or that there are misleading discounts or false promotions. Often the sites themselves write rave reviews.
The web shops often mislead the customer with the delivery time and after-sales service. For example, ‘shipped today’ does not always mean that the product will be delivered a day later, only that it is shipped that day.
Finally, the seller often does not sufficiently check the products of the external supplier. They often do not comply with European security rules or they turn out to be counterfeit.
The FPS Economy points to a number of alarm signals that should ring a bell. The prices are often remarkably low and that indicates counterfeiting. The delivery time is often unrealistic, especially if the product comes from a distant country. Often there is no return address in Belgium or the European Union, which can cost a lot of money to return.
Anyone who has been the victim of dubious sales practices or thinks that a webshop is using misleading or fraudulent practices can report this to the FPS Economy. You can check webshops at the Webshop Check of the European Consumer Center.