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Montenegro, Two sides of online purchasing

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Since the beginning of the year, 11 online purchases have resulted in a report to the Market Inspection. The irregularities related to complaints about watches, perfumes, make-up, wardrobes, faucets, shavers and others, and the customers claimed that the product received was not the same as in the photo. It was also reported that the delivery was delayed, as well as that the price the courier is asking for delivery is higher than the one indicated when ordering. The chief market inspector, Marina Radulović, tells Portal RTCG that, in the three months of 2023, counterfeit goods worth EUR 19,437 were seized from courier services.

Due to the established irregularities, after the contact of the inspector with the administrators of the websites of the registered online stores, the money was returned to the customers in two cases. In other cases, consumer complaints could not be acted upon.

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– In order for the market inspector to initiate the inspection supervision procedure, it is necessary, in accordance with Article 12 of the Law on Market Inspection, to establish the identity of the person performing the activity, that is, selling the goods. If it is a merchant who is registered to carry out this type of activity, in accordance with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, the consumer has all the rights as when buying in a classic store, with the fact that, unlike a classic store, the consumer has the right to unilateral termination of the contract, among other things, to return the goods within 14 days from the day of delivery of the goods, without giving reasons – says Radulović.

By purchasing through social networks, the consumer does not enjoy these rights.

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– If it is a sale over the Internet, via social networks, then it is usually not a merchant and the consumer has no administrative and legal protection. When persons who trade via social networks, such as via Facebook, etc., are identified, measures are taken due to illegal trade in accordance with the provisions of the Law on Internal Trade – says the chief market inspector.

In three months, goods worth EUR 19,437 were taken from the courier

By controlling the circulation of goods through courier services, market inspectors throughout Montenegro, in cooperation with the Police Department, suppress the gray economy and the sale of counterfeit goods, which is increasingly taking place through social networks. Last year, in 13 vehicles of courier services, they found counterfeit goods and goods without proof of purchase.

– During 2022, goods worth more than EUR 20,000 were seized. In 2023, in the period from January 1 to March 20, in an action to control the circulation of goods through courier services, goods without proof of purchase and counterfeit goods worth EUR 19,437.62 (clothing, bedding, gifts for 8 March) – announced Radulović for Portal RTCG.

The market inspection also carried out inspections of official websites using a random selection method and pointed out irregularities, that is, omissions that traders did not clearly define on their pages, which are prescribed by the Law on Consumer Protection.

The most common doubts encountered by traders related to: conditions, deadlines and procedures for exercising the right to unilateral termination of the contract, the type of product for which it is possible to make a return, the form of the Form for unilateral termination of the contract, as well as the notification about the possibilities and procedures for out-of-court dispute resolution , that is, about compensation instruments and the way in which the consumer can use them.

– After the controls carried out, through education by the acting inspectors, the representatives of economic entities are fully familiar with the provisions of the Law on the Protection of Consumers in the Field of Distance Trading, with all the information that they are obliged to highlight on their official websites, in order to enable every consumer to when purchasing, he can exercise his consumer rights prescribed by the aforementioned Law. The business entities fully acted according to the instructions of the acting inspectors, i.e. they complied with the obligations prescribed by the Law on Consumer Protection, and in relation to notifying consumers before concluding contracts outside business premises and contracts at a distance, which was confirmed by an inspection of the official websites – said the interlocutor of the Public Service .

Customers should be aware of the risks

Radulović emphasizes that the Market Inspection, with all its capacity, i.e. the work of 48 inspectors, monitors, among other things, the area of online purchase.

The chief market inspector appeals to all consumers to take care through which internet platforms they trade and to be aware that they will not be able to protect their consumer rights by purchasing through illegal internet sites.

– Before purchasing a product, i.e. concluding a contract at a distance, the consumer has the right to be informed about the basic characteristics of the goods, the name and address of the trader, the selling price, terms of payment, terms of delivery, terms and deadlines for unilateral termination of the contract, responsibility for the conformity of the goods, warranty , obliges the consumer to bear the costs of returning the goods, etc. Therefore, before purchasing the goods, the consumer should receive all the necessary information from the merchant on a permanent medium. If he decides to buy through an illegal site, the consumer is taking a risk, and in that case he cannot have legal protection from the inspection – points out Radulović.

He reminds that at the headquarters of the Market Inspection in Podgorica, the work of an on-duty inspector is organized every day, who answers citizens’ questions regarding consumer rights by phone on the numbers 020/230-921, 020/230-481 and 020/230-529, including online trading.

It is also possible to submit a telephone application via the free call center at 080/555-555 or by sending an e-mail to application@uip.gov.me.

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