Be careful buying online, especially from Lazada

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THE Lazada online mall has been a venue for scams, two of which I myself encountered just in a space of a month. With capital of over $1 billion, the firm, owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma through Alibaba, isn’t even doing anything to boot out these scammers from their website, even after being informed of these swindlers.

The author, who always thought himself to be smart, was scammed by sellers in these two popular e-malls.

One kind of scam is the sale of fake Xiaomi products and, I presume, other well-known, reliable brands at a “huge discount” prominently advertised. I bought from a seller Manila_MALL (sic) ” a “Xiaomi Robot Vacuum Cleaner 3 in 1 Intelligent Automatic Sweeping Robot” (see image).

What was delivered was not a Xiaomi but an obviously dirt-cheap product with no brand. Worse, it wasn’t even a vacuum cleaner, but “cleaned” the floor through a kind of tissue paper stuck on its bottom. The scammer certainly knew tricks to fool customers. Included in the package I received was a cheap obscure perfume. The scammer obviously calculated that a fooled buyer would not complain as at least he got something from the purchase.

I complained to Lazada, sending them images of the fake product that was delivered to me. They forwarded it to “Manila_Mall” which didn’t even acknowledge they had sold me a fake item. It had the gall to use the images I sent Lazada to claim that it cannot refund me as I already used the item. Of course I used it to see if there was some device there that functioned to suck the dirt, as a vacuum cleaner does. (It didn’t, and conked out after 20 minutes’ use.)

A Lazada merchant that sold fake Xiaomi products.

Lazada told me I would just have to return it. What? I was scammed and I would have to spend money for a courier service to deliver a fake item to the scammer, which he probably would sell again at Lazada? Other than the huge bother and expense for this, why would I deliver to them a product that could be used as evidence in a suit, or a complaint at a government agency?

I actually had ordered another product, also a Xiaomi, as I hadn’t yet received the fake product to be forewarned. Same thing, a fake, but sold by another merchant, a JJ71. Same response from Lazada: Just return it.

Another kind of scam at Lazada: What’s delivered is a P10 face mask ‘air purifier.’

What gets my goat is that I complained to Lazada about these two scammers over a week ago, yet they haven’t lifted a finger to close these merchants down. Manila_MALL is still selling over 54 products in Lazada. including that “Xiaomi Robotic Cleaner,” and several other products claimed to be made by Xiaomi, even nose-hair clippers sold at half its price at that company’s official site.

“JJ71” is still selling the kind of Xiaomi product, which was a fake one that was delivered to me. It’s still selling different kinds of products. I won’t be surprised because of their low prices (a “Xiaomi” mini-drone for P1,271 for instance). This is the e-commerce equivalent of say SM Mall or Robinsons having stores selling fake products.

These scammers have even hacked one of Lazada’s purported means to alert buyers of the trustworthiness of merchants’ products. Manila_MALL in a blurb on its Lazada stall, says “92 percent positive seller ratings” while “JJ71” has “100 percent positive seller ratings.” My foot.

Resist

Lesson: Resist the lure of astonishingly low prices sold at Lazada. Don’t buy anything altogether from Lazada.

There’s another kind of scam through this online mall, although apparently the scammers — “exotoxin coastal 92ex5” and “aliva” — had been closed down after I complained to the e-store.

I ordered an air-purifier (for P4,200) from “exotocin coasta92ex 5. When it had not arrived after a week, and fool that I was and desperate to get that kind of device, I bought another one of a different brand from a different merchant, “aliva.”

When neither of these products had arrived after a week, I checked my account at Lazada, to be shocked that it was marked “Delivered.” When I told Lazada that I hadn’t received the product, Lazada sent their “Proof of Delivery” photos. After inspecting the photos of the security guard in our subdivision holding the purported package, it was clear — as the package was held up with just one hand, which you can’t do if it was the air-purifier — that it wasn’t the device that was delivered. After doing some thinking about deliveries, I realized that what had been delivered was a fake mask, whose delivery code was that for the air-purifier I ordered. What a sadistic merchant, delivering not a real room air purifier for which I paid P4,128, but a P10 mask on one’s face to purify the air I breathe.

Fooled

They would have fooled a lot of people who didn’t have the time or the patience to go through Lazada’s user-unfriendly, even confusing, website to complain,

I am not sure if the other dominant e-mall here and in Asia, Shopee (owned by a Singaporean conglomerate), has been hosting scammers as much as Lazada does. My limited experience is due to the fact that I don’t order much from it as its payment system sucks: for some products they accept credit cards and for others they don’t.

Other than that, I’ve also had a bad experience with Shopee two years ago. Needing a new TV when the pandemic broke out and lockdowns were imposed, I ordered a 40″ TV which was advertised at about two-thirds the price it was being sold for at appliance stores. Stupid of me though, I paid through GCash. Amazing swindlers, when I called the seller a week after, a man with a Malaysian accent apologized, claiming that the lockdowns disrupted their delivery systems. After a week, he had the gall to call and claim that the Philippines had new customs restrictions because of its lockdowns. He said that he needed P3,000 to clear customs, and that I could send the money asap through GCash. Unbelievable, I gave up and charged it to experience. Of course I also asked Shopee to refund me.

Nope, Shopee said, because I didn’t go through their own payment system. Now, how could I know that it housed a scammer which said I could just pay by GCash, rather than going back to my computer to register at Shopee for my payments to be made by credit card? What Shopee is saying is that it can’t vouch whether the merchants in its e-mall are legitimate or not, so just be careful and pay only through its system.

Be careful, Shopee’s selling over 300 TVs at its e-mall now, many at 50 percent discounts. How on earth could these sellers sell these at those prices?

Incompetent

I find it unfortunate that Lazada management — or maybe just its Philippine branch — has been so incompetent to rid its e-mall of scammers. It is, together with Shopee, getting to be so popular in the country that even revenues of SM department stores and other mortar-and-brick stores are said to have plummeted. The trade department estimates that there are two million merchants selling their wares through Lazada and Shopee and other online stores.

Such negligence borders on criminal neglect. Many poor people buy online,in order to save on expenses commuting to a regular mall. It’s so sad that their hard-earned money may have been lost due to scammers in Lazada and Shopee. What’s the trade and industry department doing to save Filipinos from scammers in these two foreign stores?

What also makes my blood boil is the fact that it isn’t clear how these two online stores are reporting their income for the BIR to collect taxes. I don’t see in my purchases having the required receipts, and I wonder if or how they collect the value-added taxes, which are required by two laws.

I am still waiting for information on this from the new Bureau of Internal Revenue head Romeo D. Lumagui Jr., whom businessmen I asked said is one of President Marcos Jr.’s most qualified appointees. I was told unofficially though that the guidelines for such tax payments are still being finalized.

Government must inform Filipinos how — and maybe even if —- Lazada and Shopee are paying taxes here. After all Lazada, whose ultimate owner is the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, and Shopee, owned by Singaporean billionaire Forrest Li Xiaodong, must have been raking it in when e-commerce zoomed in popularity since the Covid-19 lockdowns.

You lazybones at Lazada and Shopee, better stop swindlers operating in your e-malls, or your malls will close down and you’ll find yourselves jobless.


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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Kagay-anon Writer

    So Sir, when you complain to DTI, they will just route you to the terms and conditions that Lazada has staying you can return the items. So this process alone, is already nonsensical in nature because as a Government agency, you should take the problem from the consumer and act as lawyer for the consumer and call the attention of the merchant. Unfortunately, it seems DTI is more business oriented rather than consumer oriented. It’s really quite an institutional problem. We might have to really create a government institution that will fight for consumer welfare. Not sure where that is gonna be from.

  2. norman portes

    hi sir magandang araw po.
    share ko lang din po yung same problem namin sa lazada as mga delivery riders.
    kami po ang na charge sa mga ganyan na pangyayari dahil sa mga fraud sellers and items.
    ang masakit pa po doon ay nasa system na po yan ng lazada na kahit ma report na via email sa fleet namin at verbal sa lazada LOP app sa representative ng company sa hub facilities sa warehouse namin ay hindi pa rin nila inaalis sa system. meron po silang implemented sa amin na NO OPEN Policy na labag sa karapatan ng buyer alinsunod sa Consumer Act po natin. marami pong mga rider ang pinapapirma at pinipilit para bayaran ang mga mga maling AWB amount vs doon sa system (P799) sa Shipping label at binayaran ng buyer pero sa system po ay (P29,000) po ang halaga at ang masusunod daw ay ang system kaya short remittance po kami sa collection po. i can show po yung mga proof na exixting parin yan. at pag na open na po ni buyer ay kami na ang mag shoulder ng payment kasi daw ni refuse ni buyer na bayaran at ni refuse to accept ni seller dahil open na daw package at tama daw pinadala nilang item kahit sa video ay mali at it doesnt match pictures and details sa description po. sana po matulungan nyo rin po kami sa mga ganyan na scam in broad daylight pati kami na rider mag aabono sa maling item ni seller at mga fraud item na pinapa attemp parin sa buyer utos sa warehouse po.

  3. Dorina S. Rojas

    Thanks for the info/advice. I am also a customer of these online stores, whatever you call them, and I have been careful. I think I will be more careful this time.

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