Online trading and shopping platforms should be closely monitored by the relevant authorities for tighter controls and further protection of consumer rights, suggested several Qatari citizens and entrepreneurs.
They told the local Arab daily Arrayah that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry should strictly control such portals and websites, as well as various online platforms, to ensure they are complying with all necessary consumer protection laws and regulations. In particular, they should be required to publish full details of their products and price tags could also be added in Arabic and other languages. Accordingly, consumers demanded that there should be a dedicated contact number to report violations on these portals and platforms, with the option of sending screenshots of the relevant violations.
Omran al-Kuwari, one of the citizens, emphasized that many of these online platforms often do not publish the price tags of their products in order to manipulate prices and sell their products to different customers at different prices. He said e-commerce is very popular these days and the authorities concerned should control it more closely to protect customers from possible manipulation or deception.
He said he purchased mobile accessories for QR100 from a specific website and received the price in a private message. However, after two days, one of his friends bought the same for QR150. When he contacted the website in question, they informed him that prices had increased. He stressed the need for constant surveillance and stricter control of such facilities.
Zakaria al-Majid said there are some people who use WhatsApp groups to sell and promote various products such as camping supplies, tools, watches, accessories and many other items. The prices in these groups often fluctuate widely and sometimes the origin of a product is also unclear. Also, most of them rarely use Arabic and resort to private messages to give the prices and details of each product in order to get as much profit as possible from different customers.
He suggested that the authority concerned should create and maintain a comprehensive database of such portals and online platforms and keep them up to date in order to monitor their practices and hold them liable for any violations of relevant laws and regulations. There should also be an effective mechanism to easily report related violations.
Nayif al-Shahrani said that many of these platforms often hide prices in order to create a “state of curiosity” and get customers’ attention, which they think would further promote a product while others simply aim to sell their items different prices to sell to different customers. He noted that such websites should be careful to maintain transparency in order to gain customer trust.