Buying electronics on e-commerce platforms cheap but sometimes risky

By Tuan Hung   March 10, 2023 | 03:30 am PT
Buying electronics on e-commerce platforms cheap but sometimes risky
Smartphones and TVs are sold widely on e-commerce platforms. Photo by VnExpress
The prices of smartphones and TVs sold through e-commerce platforms often are cheaper than those sold in traditional shops, but buying them may have risks relating to quality and warranty.

Thuy Duong, who lives in Hanoi’s Ha Dong District, bought a 43-inch TV for VND5 million (US$211.22) on an e-commerce platform, which was nearly VND2 million cheaper than the price in traditional stores.

One week after she bought the TV, her friend discovered that the TV had been used for nearly 200 hours as a display item.

The online stall on the platform denied responsibility, and the platform’s call center said the timeframe for making a complaint had expired, so the company could not support her request for an exchange of a brand new TV.

"I will not buy expensive technology products online again," she said.

According to regulations governing e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada, buyers are supposed to lodge complaints within three days. Some online stalls regulate that the complaint timeframe is seven days.

"If faulty products are bought at traditional stores, the problem will be resolved on the spot," said technology expert Nguyen Minh Tien. "But if they are purchased through e-commerce platforms, buyers must send a complaint, and it takes time to realize the problem and then pack the faulty goods to send back to seller."

Users who regularly shop online said they often choose known or familiar products.

"I bought a TV, a smartphone and a robot vacuum cleaner on e-commerce platforms at lower prices," VnExpress reader Thanh Vu said. "I got to know the products via reading reviews or going to traditional shops to experience them before buying online."

Customers often rely on the reputation of online stores and read the comments of other buyers before deciding to order goods. However, some store owners on Shopee and Lazada said e-commerce platforms have not yet solved the problem of the fake number of purchases and exaggerated reviews.

Anyone can set up a store on Shopee or Lazada without a business registration, and so this is why some products have lower prices, but warranty and after-sales service are not very good.

"I bought a robot vacuum clean with a 12-month warranty, and it had a technical glitch in the fourth month, Tuan Thanh recalled. "But the seller found various excuses not to fix it."

Currently Shopee and Lazada have their own systems called Mall for companies to sell their products. Products sold via Mall stores are often run by big brands or distributors, and so have a longer support time.

"However, the prices of products offered in the Mall are usually higher than from online stalls, and so many people still look to the online stores," Tien said.

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