Online products without price tags illegal: Thai commerce ministry warns e-retailers

In a photo taken on April 17, 2019, online customer reviews for a product are displayed on a computer in New York.
In a photo taken on April 17, 2019, online customer reviews for a product are displayed on a computer in New York.PHOTO: AP

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Thailand's Commerce Ministry warned e-retailers this week that listing online products without giving a price tag was illegal and carried a penalty of a fine of up to 10,000 baht (S$450).

Mr Chatchai Saksilapachai, deputy director-general of the Department of Internal Trade, said the regulation that all offline products must carry a price tag has been extended to include products sold online.

The new rule was introduced in response to complaints that many products advertised online did not clearly indicate the price, forcing interested customers to send a message requesting a quotation.

This is considered unfair and illegal, as it implies the seller is deliberately concealing the price and the service charge.

Screening e-retailers is tough work because of the difficulty in tracking the physical locations of the merchants.

The ministry thus encouraged anyone who finds such illegal action to report it to the authorities.

"Where the price tag is not shown, the sellers will face a penalty of a fine not exceeding 10,000 baht while stockists who refuse to comply with the prices set will face a prison term of seven years or a fine not exceeding 140,000 baht or both. The announcement of the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banks for the supervision of online and offline product labelling has been posted since July 4, though many people are still not aware of it," Mr Chatchai said.

The ministry notes that it has received a growing number of complaints from consumers: In 2019, 330 consumers complained of products with no price tags, up from 178 complaints in 2018, while not maintaining the price of general products received 1,932 complaints in 2018, but reduced to 1,429 in 2019.

Mr Vuttikrai Leewiraphan, director general at the Department of Business Development, said that the overall e-commerce business in 2019 grew 14.04 per cent and is valued at 3.1 trillion baht.

Ninety per cent of the customers use their smartphones to make online purchases.