7th December 2023 12:58 pm
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Fell for an online shopping scam? Here’s how to report it

  • The National Consumer Commission (NCC) is now allowing people wronged by shady websites to file complaints online.
  • This makes the complaint process easier and faster as previously complaints had to be filed in paper and in person.
  • With online shopping and ecommerce scams on the rise in South Africa, this system upgrade comes at a crucial moment.

In a bid to keep up with the ceaseless digitisation of South African society, government entities have been investing in taking their systems and processes online. The latest to do so is the National Consumer Commission (NCC), an organisation that seeks to protect shoppers from dodgy business practices and retail scams.

According to Thezi Mabuza, acting National Consumer Commissioner, consumers can now make complaints to the commission via an online service portal. This is a step in the right direction as previously complaints had to be made in pen and paper and sent to the commission via post or filed in person, providing significant friction.

“As South Africans are now accustomed to online transactions, we want to make it easier and more convenient for them to file complaints from the comfort of their homes or on the spot. The portal also makes it easy and possible for consumers to log in and view the status of their complaints without contacting the NCC,” explained Mabuza.

How to report an online shopping scam to the NCC

To file a complaint, consumers first need to make sure they have their ID book handy and then head to the service portal online, here. Once here they can create a brand new profile if they have not done so already, using information from their ID.

The NCC says that the documentation of users will be verified using the database of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Once you have created an account, and a password and lodged your first complaint, you can lodge as many as you see fit. The portal also has the benefit of allowing you to keep constant track of any previous complaints and apparently offers “instant notifications.”

Any intermittent connectivity experienced during this process is due to “interface with DHA” and therefore some patience may be required on first sign-up.

Ecommerce scams on the rise in SA

The migration of the NCC complaint system online also matches the increasing prevalence of online scams affecting South Africans, especially in the ecommerce space. Earlier this year the commission issued a series of warnings about two different ecommerce platforms in South Africa.

It said in April that it received several complaints about online shopping website Manicaa.com for a range of basically everything that could go wrong when shopping over the web. “[Consumers] alleged that they either received incorrect items, incomplete orders or defective goods with no assistance from the supplier,” Mabuza said at the time.

“The NCC’s preliminary findings indicate that Manicaa is a scam run by Webster Kutsawa and Clara Kutsawa,” the commissioner added. It seems the Manicaa website is offline as of time of writing. This is probably due to increased media scrutiny and consumer action rather than direct intervention from the NCC.

Another dodgy business no longer online after the NCC issued warnings to the public is Milo Designs which purported to sell bedroom furniture, with most customers finding the business via Instagram and Facebook. Victims of this scam would pay for goods and then never receive them after shopping online.

Some transactions noted by the commissions which ended in theft were up to R1.2 million for furniture.

“Upon investigating their conduct, the Commission’s preliminary assessment indicates that the operators of this scam, LM Kotze and MC Wood, are not cooperating with the Commission [and] both LM Kotze and MC Wood have no intention of delivering the goods or refunding the consumers,” said Mabuza in May.

If you believe you are a victim of an online shopping scam and want to make sure others don’t suffer the same fate as you, it is easier now than ever to report ecommerce fraud to the NCC via the new online portal.

Additionally, in-person systems are still in place so people who don’t have access to the internet can still file complaints.

“To ensure that consumers enjoy their right to be heard, we encourage consumers who do not have access to the internet to utilise our contact centre for assistance. Our agents will create a profile on behalf of the consumer and file the complaint,” Mabuza concludes.

[Source – SA News]

[Image – Photo Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash]

Luis Monzon

Luis Monzon

Journalist. Covering education, AAA gaming and consumer tech. Reach me at Luis@htxt.co.za.

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