By now, China has multiple annual “sales holidays” invented by big sellers like Alibaba and JD.com to lure in hordes of customers. The most famous is the Alibaba-started Double 11 (Nov. 11), which has in the past resulted in widespread discounts and massive sales.
But vendors have gotten a little too tricky in their approach to the discounts, many of them baffling consumers with a dizzying degree of calculation involved to determine if there really is a deal at all.
Enter the authorities.
As one such sales event approaches — the JD.com-initiated “618 sale” (Jun. 18) — authorities have decided to crack down on these tricky or overly complex “discounts.”
According to a policy draft China’s market regulator published recently, if a seller fails to provide buyers with clear and detailed pricing facts, the behavior will be considered “deceptive” and the vendor will be penalized.
Among the several proposed rules, vendors would have to provide the original prices before any discounts, or prices set seven days before the start of a sales event, to prevent meager “deals” from appearing to be huge discounts.
Regulators also said the new rules would give themselves flexibility in determining whether a vendor is purposefully misleading consumers. Some past consumer-protection regulations have been seen as having to rigidly follow by-the-book judgements that could accuse innocent vendors of deception.
The draft will be available for feedback until June 30.