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  • Writer's pictureSophia Satapathy

5 Tips to Navigate International Order Issues: Understanding Your Consumer Rights and Complaint Options

Updated: Apr 4

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Ever ordered something online from another country and eagerly awaited its arrival, only to end up disappointed? Many people need help ordering from overseas - from packages getting lost or damaged in transit to dealing with customs delays. It's enough to make you want to give up on international shopping altogether.

But never fear! As more of us buy from foreign websites and companies, laws and policies are catching up to protect consumers like you. No matter where you purchase from or the country in which the company is based, you have certain rights when things go wrong.

This article will explore some common customer complaints when ordering across borders. You'll also learn about your protections under international trade rules and how to file complaints with the right organizations if an issue arises. By the end, you'll feel empowered in your online shopping, wherever the sellers are. Let's get started!

Common International Order Issues

When ordering items from overseas, a few issues often come up that can frustrate consumers. Here are some of the most typical complaints with international purchases:

  • Shipping Delays: Packages from other countries sometimes get delayed in transit more than domestic orders. Weather, customs processing times, and distance can all contribute to slower deliveries than expected.

  • Damaged or Wrong Items: International shipments change hands multiple times as they cross borders, increasing the chances of items being damaged in transit or the wrong items being shipped by mistake.

  • Delivery and Customs Problems: Getting orders to clear customs and arrive can pose problems, especially if extra import taxes or documentation are required. This can lead to delays or even returns to the sender.

  • Payment and Billing Disputes: Differences in currencies, billing addresses, and sales tax rules between countries make resolving payment or billing issues for international orders more complex than domestic purchases. Communication is key to avoiding disputes.

Awareness of these common pain points can help consumers manage expectations for international shopping and know their rights if issues occur.

Your Consumer Rights for International Purchases 

When shopping across borders, it's helpful to understand what rights and protections apply to purchases made by overseas sellers. Here are some of the key rights consumers have for international orders:

  • Applicable Laws and Regulations: Agreements formed under the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and regulations set by economic partnerships like the EU provide rules for product quality, pricing, and order fulfillment that apply even when shopping globally.

  • Right to Refunds or Replacements: If a product arrives damaged, defective, or not as described, you generally have the right to return it for a full refund or replacement, depending on the merchant's policy and applicable regulations.

  • Disputing Unauthorized Charges: If your payment information is compromised or you're double charged, you can dispute unauthorized transactions through your bank or credit card company, even if the merchant is based in another country.

  • Language and Currency Assistance: Resources like ECC-Net can help address issues due to language barriers or different currencies between buyer and seller locations. They make it easier to understand policies and seek resolution.

Awareness of these core rights empowers consumers to seek resolution if problems occur with international orders, too. With proper protections in place, global online shopping can be safe.

How to File a Complaint 

If you face an issue as a consumer, there are steps you can take to try and resolve the problem:

  • Contact the Retailer Directly: First, contact the company you purchased from to try and settle the dispute directly. Explain the problem politely and give them a chance to make things right.

  • Escalate to Shipper/Agency: If shipping, delivery, or customs were involved, also contact the relevant carrier or agency for information that can help solve the problem.

  • File with Local Watchdog: If direct talks don't work, lodge an official complaint with your local consumer protection agency or trade commission. They may investigate and help mediate an outcome.

  • Options for Cross-Border Disputes: For international purchases, consider resources like ECC-Net or organizations under the ICC, such as International Mediation, which can assist with resolving disputes that cross multiple legal jurisdictions.

Providing details calmly and giving businesses a chance to respond is the best first step to ensure issues are adequately addressed through the appropriate channels. Escalating responsibly can help assert consumer rights.

Case Study/Example

Aramez Nike order issue

This case study examines a complaint posted on ConsumerComplaints. About delivery issues faced with an order from Nike.com that was shipped via Aramex Couriers.

  • Issues Faced: The complainant ordered shoes worth 15,000 INR from Nike's website in India. Aramex was responsible for the last-mile delivery. They kept asking for the recipient's KYC (know-your-customer) documents but were rejecting the details provided, claiming the address did not match. This caused the delivery to remain pending.

  • Resolution Process: Aramex's customer support was notified after the complaint was posted. In comments, another user mentioned facing similar KYC rejection issues despite clearance shown on Aramex's website. The original complainant should have confirmed if the order was eventually received.

It seems minor mismatches like omitting a street name in KYC documents versus the delivery address led to rejections by Aramex. While KYC is important, a more flexible approach that considers the context of the address could have resolved it. Escalating via the consumer forum brought the matter to the courier's notice, but the outcome needs to be clarified.

Such case studies highlight the challenges faced in resolving cross-border e-commerce disputes and the importance of coordination between retailers, couriers, and consumer protection platforms. Stricter KYC norms need to be balanced with pragmatic solutions for customers.

Tips for a Successful Resolution

Here are some suggestions that may help with resolving your issue:

  • Keep records of all messages and updates: Make notes of dates, times, and details of your conversations with the courier company. Note tracking numbers and any updates on the status of your delivery. Having official records can support your case.

  • Learn about customer rights where you live: Do some research on the internet about laws or policies in your city/state regarding delivery issues and customer service. Knowing your rights can help you ask for the proper resolution.

  • Use the company's complaint form: Many large carriers have online forms or templates for logging complaints. Filling one out officially brings attention to your problem and makes it easier for them to investigate.

  • See if online mediation can help: Some websites offer dispute resolution services. You enter the details of the issue, and they contact the company to find a solution. This may speed up getting a response compared to regular customer service.

  • Stay polite but firm: Be respectful with any contacts, but don't hesitate to repeat your need for a solution. If the initial responses don't resolve the delivery delay, ask to speak to supervisors. Working constructively often yields the best outcome.

Conclusion

The main points discussed were consumer rights when shopping online or using delivery services. You have a right to receive items you paid for and get company support if problems arise. There are processes for filing complaints with local authorities or dispute resolution bodies.

If you've had an order that didn't arrive as promised or are facing delivery issues, take time to understand your rights. Consider contacting the courier or merchant directly via email or phone to resolve it cooperatively. But if direct communication doesn't work, the next step is submitting an official complaint.

We encourage readers to visit online resources to learn more about their consumer protection options. Pursuing resolution through proper channels can help ensure problems are addressed fairly. Speak up if you encounter any issues—you have a voice and deserve good customer service.

FAQs

What if the item arrives broken/damaged?

Many international orders arrive via cargo ship or plane, so there is a risk of damage during transit. Consumers have a right to a partial or full refund if the item arrives broken due to shipping issues. They should refuse the package and file a complaint with the retailer/carrier.

How can I avoid customs/import charges?

Some countries charge duties on items shipped from overseas. Consumers can ask retailers to mark packages as 'gifts' to avoid charges or check if trade agreements exempt certain items. Paying charges upfront helps clear customs for items smoothly.

What if the website is a scam?

Unfortunately, some foreign websites make money without sending orders. Red flags include no address, phone number, or reviews. Consumers should only order from reputed brands or marketplaces, check for HTTPS on payment pages, and use a credit card for better dispute options.

How long will the ship take?

Transit times vary greatly depending on origin/destination countries and carriers. Consumers should get estimated delivery windows from the retailer and track packages regularly. Missed or delayed deliveries can become the basis for refund/replacement claims.

Can I return an international order?

Due to higher costs, many retailers have different/restrictive return policies for international orders. Consumers must understand if they will bear return shipping fees or if items must be in 'new' condition to qualify. It's best to confirm returns policies before finalizing overseas purchases.


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