Gap in consumer protection law for online shopping

Consumer disputes involving online shopping will not be entirely protected by the city’s consumer protection law, according to Ho Ion Sang, chairman of the First Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly.

Yesterday, representatives of the SAR government met with members of the committee to discuss the bill in detail.

According to Ho, the government representatives proposed dividing online shopping into two categories: business operators from outside of Macau and business operators from within the territory.

Customers who purchase items from non-Macau  business operators will not be eligible to resort to the law when there is a dispute between themselves and the non-local vendor or service provider.

For transactions with local business operators, however, the consumer protection law can be referred to when an online shopping dispute occurs.

The law is to be applied when a product or service provider has an office in Macau, the product or service provider has a Macau local IP or a Macau domain is registered, the provider has opened a bank account in Macau or has registered e-payment in Macau locally.

The aforementioned conditions have not been finalized by the committee.

Overall, the law can only resolve consumption disputes between business operators in Macau and consumers in Macau. The disputes must be related to a service or a product.

Ho explained that in the context of disputes which involve certain kinds of businesses, other laws would be adopted preliminarily in place of the consumer protection law, which will act as a back-up law for these cases, such as those involving taxi services, advertisements, hospitality, gaming, medicine, legal services, accounts, audits, and education.

According to Ho, there are government authorities responsible for the supervision of the operation of the aforementioned sectors. “When there is not a specific law regulating the situation, the consumer protection law can be adopted” as a guideline, said Ho.

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