with online sales, disputes are exploding

The boom in online sales linked to the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020 has been accompanied by an increase in litigation. Illustrative photo.
The boom in online sales linked to the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020 has been accompanied by an increase in litigation. Illustrative photo. (VINCENT VOEGTLIN / MAXPPP)

The Covid-19 crisis has exploded online sales. But the other side of the coin, this boom has been accompanied by an increase in complaints. According to the reporting platform of the DGCCRF, the fraud control service which collects these disputes, the most frequent problems concern orders paid but never arrived, delivery delays, poor workmanship, etc.

Consumers also often complain about not being able to cancel or get a refund for a purchase. This is very common, for example, for airline tickets taken online. Complaints also concern an inability to easily unsubscribe from a service.

All sectors are concerned since these complaints target the usual large e-commerce brands: Cdiscount, Amazon, Fnac, Darty and others. But also the sites of banks, insurance companies, airlines, gas networks and electricity. In 2020, for all these abuses, whether via the fraud repression website or thanks to the new mobile application “Signal Conso” that the State set up last year, the government was asked more 60,000 times. That is an increase of 30% in one year.

Online sales are not the only ones to be singled out. Nearly 5,000 reports were directly linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Most, for exaggerated prices or product defects, such as hydroalcoholic gels or masks. Several scams have also been identified around the sale of alleged miracle cures to cure Covid-19. And, according to the government, it is useful to make these statements. 80% of the companies questioned responded and resolved the issue. And in the most serious cases, the state verbalizes them and prevents them from doing harm.

With the Covid-19 epidemic, more and more disputes also concern optical fiber. A situation that is often much more complex to resolve because it is mainly technical problems. The pandemic and the explosion of teleworking have prompted many French people to have fiber installed. Last year, telecoms operators Orange and SFR deployed more than six million lines and often called on a complex chain of sub-contractors, sometimes opaque and not very serious. Hence the poor customer connections, hasty installations, poor workmanship in the systems. Users find themselves stranded, without a network for several days.

These shortcomings relating to the deployment of optical fiber have grown. They now represent a quarter of referrals to the mediator of electronic communications, against 8% three years ago. The government is worried: these flaws could penalize the proper deployment of fiber in the country and slow down economic recovery

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