When she first browsed their site and found the kurti, Turin thought she had to have it. It was a deep brown round kurti, looking oh so alluring in the picture of the product page of a Narayanganj-based online shop named Pakistani Dress Online Shop.
Turin paid the courier charge in advance. She was to pay for the dress on delivery. She paid for the product and opened the package. And it was a shock for her. There was a completely different pink kamiz in the package.
"When I messaged their Facebook page about this, they promised to change the product. But after a day, they blocked me," said Turin.
The Business Standard tried to reach the page through the number provided, but nobody answered. Neither did they reply to messages for comments.
Swarna Roy, who works for a private company, orders most of the things she needs from online shops because of her busy schedule.
"The products that I get from online shops come in sizes and colours different from the ones I had ordered, most of the time. Some shops replace the products, some do not. The online shopping experience is not always happy," said Swarna.
There is no doubt that online shopping has made our life easier. Anything you want, starting from a valuable gadget to garden vegetables, is just a few clicks away.
However, on many occasions, what you order is not what you receive. Moreover, if you try to remedy the situation, online shops make it very difficult to return the product by making customers go through an extremely tedious process.
Shopping at Daraz has been frustrating for a number of buyers as well. Daraz's Facebook page contains several such customer complaints regarding the delivery of wrong products, wrong sizes or major delays in delivery. One customer posted a photo of a watch belt he received instead of the watch he had ordered. Daraz responds to all such complaints with a link to a YouTube video detailing their return policy.
According to the video, the customer must return to the Daraz app, click on the product, find the return option, notify why the product is being returned and then drop it off at one of their nearby locations.
"We have an easy return and refund policy," claimed Shayantany Twisha, head of PR, Media & Communication, Daraz.
"We handle customer complaints with utmost priority. We investigate each complaint with equal importance and find out what exactly went wrong. Aside from all the front desk agents who receive customer complaints through phone calls, live chat, and social media, we also have a dedicated team named issue resolution who are trained to solve all these complaints within the shortest possible time," she added.
While lesser known companies sometimes defraud customers altogether, consumers allege well-known companies also regularly bungle orders and are reluctant to resolve problems and issues with products.
Cases of ghost orders are not uncommon either. Last month one consumer got a confirmation notification of a food order worth Tk1,370 from popular food delivery platform Foodpanda. The problem was, he did not even order the food in the first place.
Foodpanda only gives a link for submitting complaints online and there is no number for direct calls. When that customer used their customer care chat box to complain, the representative argued that he had, indeed, placed the order and advised the customer to solve the issue with the restaurant.
Another customer, Fazlul Haq, could not use his voucher while ordering food, and asked for suggestions on Foodpanda's Facebook page – Foodpanda Users Bangladesh. He left his question on their Live feed twice and placed a complaint through email but there was no response.
Most complaints on the Foodpanda page involve riders who fail to deliver food on time, refuse to take order if the customer has a voucher, and in some cases deliver the wrong food.
When Foodpanda was contacted about their policy in handling issues of wrong orders, they responded with a generic email detailing the various options – live chat on web and app, Facebook, Instagram and email – in which customers can detail their complaints.
According to media reports, another local e-commerce giant, Evaly, was recently investigated by the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate for customer complaints regarding absence of on-delivery payment, delay in delivery, and poor quality of products.
Ease of access and business on social media platforms like Facebook has contributed to the mushrooming of online businesses that offer a wide range of products.
While customers use these shopping platforms to avoid the hassle of going to a market and bargaining, the online businesses also find it easy to do business without the expense of running a brick and mortar retail outfit.
However, customers cannot check the products in person before ordering them online, they have to trust the description of the online store.
According to Mohammad Sahab Uddin, vice-president of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh, the number of fraud cases has fallen in recent times because of consumer awareness. There are more than 1,000 online sites currently registered with e-CAB. Anyone can file a complaint on their website.
"When we get a verbal or written complaint of fraud, our committee tries to resolve it through negotiation at first. If needed, further steps are taken in line with our policy," said Sahab Uddin.
The Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), a voluntary organisation, has been set up for the protection and promotion of consumer rights in the country.
Golam Rahman, president of CAB, said that e-CAB has an important role to play in stopping fraud, developing consumer confidence and improving the online business sector.
Golam Rahman added, "The most effective way is to file a complaint at the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection within 30 days of the incident. The consumer must have proper documents in that case. If there is sufficient evidence, further legal steps can be taken. The consumer gets 25 percent of the penalty charged to the guilty party."
Can the consumer get the police involved in cases of online frauds? It seems they can. Online fraud cases are handled by the Cyber Security and Crime Division of the police set up to control various forms of online fraud.
"This division of the police investigates such fraud. Consumers are welcome to file complaints at the local police stations," said Dhruba Joetirmoya Gope, senior assistant commissioner of police.
To avoid a bad online shopping experience, the official suggests consumers should be careful about ordering something from dubious websites, and must read the details of the product carefully. He emphasised on not paying the full amount for any product beforehand, and to use the cash-on-delivery option instead.