WeChat’s micro retailers come under scrutiny in run up to World Consumer Rights Day

WeChat’s micro store business Weishang (微商) is challenging Alibaba’s Taobao for e-commerce domination in China. It seems that the service is going through the very same problems that Taobao has experienced previously. Product quality, marketing spam, and after-sales services are three top concerns for Weishang, a report from the Beijing Customer Association shows.

As a feature of WeChat, Weishang allows users to sell goods and services to their contacts, advertising them through the app’s status update function, Moment. In addition to the WeChat, a giant traffic source that claims over 1 billion monthly active users, the business is shifting to more diversified means for obtaining traffic, such as live streaming and short videos.

Despite the growth, Weishang is haunted by some of the long-term headaches in China’s e-commerce market. The report shows that around 54% of local reporting concerning Weishang in 2017 was related to product quality problems. Of them, customer complaints on unbranded and dateless products by a nameless factory is the most severe one.

Marketing spam and false marketing are also very common, especially in cosmetics and clothing industry.

Poor after-sales service is another factor against the reputation of Weishang retailers. It’s extremely difficult to return and/or exchange merchandise, according to the report. The case is even worse when it involves the purchase of healthcare products, cosmetics, and clothes. Over 50% of the weishang declined return and exchange requests, the report shows.

Customer right issues are stealing tech headlines this week. We are only days ahead of the World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, when the country’s state broadcaster CCTV will hold an evening gala exposing bad commercial behavior. In recent years, customer right problems involving tech companies have taken center stage. Apple was forced into a rare apology in 2013 after criticism of the show of its after-sales service. Food delivery app Ele.me was accused of listing unlicensed restaurants on its platform.