Consumers advised to be wary of unknown sellers

Azlan Othman

The Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) under the Department of Economic Planning & Statistics (JPES) reminded the public to be aware of the potential associated risks when entering into transactions with unknown sellers, since a majority of these sellers are individual resellers or unregistered businesses, which can make them challenging to track.

Consumers are urged to be vigilant by verifying the offers and refrain from entering into the transaction if in doubt or find the prices to be unreasonable.

This was highlighted by the DCCA in its latest guidelines highlighting issues impacting consumers and businesses in Brunei Darussalam since March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

On whether online businesses are also required to display the prices of their products, DCCA said the display of prices regulations cover all businesses legally established and registered with the Registry of Companies and Business Names (ROCBN), Ministry of Finance and Economy.

Online businesses are not excluded from the price display regulations, to protect consumers from being misled and to promote transparency so that consumers can make informed purchase decisions before payment.

However, there is a distinction between online business and online marketing. An online business offers a complete business transaction online in which payment can be made, where a consumer engaging in such a platform that will lead to a contract with the business (buying and selling).

Online marketing is a tool used by businesses to advertise their products. One way is through social media.

The online posts are meant to reach out and to inform consumers. There are no retail transactions involved, hence there is no legal obligation to display prices. Individuals interested may contact the sellers to inquire about the prices.

With the evolving market landscape and more rapid pace in switching to e-commerce platform recently due to the pandemic, the DCCA will continue to study online business consumer issues and provide updates on relevant advisories.