Consumer bodies across Europe have called on their respective consumer protection agencies to “take action” against Alibaba over claims it sets unfair terms for EU users.
Europe’s consumer body the BEUC has issued a statement calling for the Chinese ecommerce giant’s international platform AliExpress to comply with EU laws protecting consumers.
Officials from Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands, all part of the BEUC’s network, are concerned with a clause in AliExpress’s terms and conditions, which states disputes between seller and buyer should be referred to a Hong Kong arbitration court.
This contradicts EU consumer rules which state customers have the right to take legal action in their own country, where consumer laws are different.
AliExpress also doesn’t allow consumers to return goods without a reason within 14 days, which is in breach of EU laws.
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“We call on the consumer protection authorities to look urgently into this issue and to take action,” the BEUC’s director general Monique Goyens said.
“Online platforms linking sellers from outside Europe are more and more popular, but respecting consumer rights is not negotiable.”
In response Alibaba said: “We respect and endeavour to comply with all applicable rules and regulations in the markets in which we operate.
“We also respect the rights of consumers and we are paying close attention to these concerns.”
This comes as Alibaba’s chief executive Jack Ma said he was worried about Europe due to its tightening regulations on tech, and its subsequent restrictions on business.
Ma told attendees at the Viva Technology conference in Paris yesterday: “If you think the technology revolution is a problem, I’m sorry to say a problem just started.
“If you think it’s an opportunity, the opportunity just started. The only thing is your mentality. If the mentality is now a worry, you’ll worry all the time.”