After an analysis of the general terms and conditions on the AliExpress website, a group of consumer organisations say that Alibaba fails to live up to the European consumer rights regulation.
AliExpress offers a platform to mostly Chinese sellers targeting worldwide consumers. According to Belgian consumer rights' defence group Test Aankoop, the general terms and conditions of the website contain multiple misleading clauses. The organisation points to how difficult it is to even access those conditions. They are also lacking in clarity, since only a portion is available in Dutch.
The website of the Chinese platform further states that any dispute between buyer and seller will be settled by an arbitration tribunal in China. Test Aankoop complains that this is not only unrealistic, but a blatant violation of European regulations. In addition, the conditions lack the absolute return policy known as the cool-off period. In Europe, every consumer has the right to return goods purchased online within 14 days, without having to explain why.
Along with a number of similar organisations in Europe, Test Aankoop was informed about these violations by ULC, their counterpart from Luxembourg. Together, they have since admonished the Chinese e-commerce giant, urging them to follow European regulations. Test Aankoop has also informed Minister of Consumer Affairs Kris Peeters.
"Becoming an important player on the European online market brings with it some serious responsibilities, especially when it comes to respecting consumer rights. Consumers have to be able to shop online and be guaranteed that they can count on the right protection in case of a problem," says Ivo Michiels, CEO of Test Aankoop. His colleague from the Netherlands, ACM's Saskia Bierling, goes so far as to explicitly request a fine, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.