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    NFT, NEV-Related Complaints Rise Among Chinese Consumers

    Authorities say emerging consumption trends have brought new challenges in protecting consumer rights.
    Mar 15, 2023#consumption

    New consumption trends involving novel products and services continue to rise in China, and so have related complaints in an absence of comprehensive consumer right protection mechanisms in those areas.

    Consumer complaints about emerging consumption darlings, including new energy vehicles (NEVs), non-fungible token (NFT) products, blind boxes, glamping, and skiing, grew the fastest in 2022, according to a new report. It said the diversity of such products and services had “revealed new forms of consumer right infringements and brought new challenges in protecting consumer rights.”

    The annual report was released by the China Consumers Association on Tuesday, on the eve of World Consumer Rights Day on March 15. Just like previous years, grievances about food, clothing, and restaurants were the source of most complaints for 2022, too.

    Most complaints involving new energy vehicles were related to false advertisements, unfair contracts, and poor after-sales services for solving quality problems, such as sudden stalling, steering malfunctions, and battery damage. China has accelerated the adoption of NEVs in recent years — thanks to government-driven efforts — with 4.1% of the country’s vehicles running on green energy by the end of 2022, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

    NFTs also topped the consumer watchdog’s complaint list, with grievances about the digital collections soaring to nearly 60,000 in 2022, up from only 198 in the previous year. Consumers mostly moaned about refunds, price hikes, and excessively high transaction fees on NFT products that now range from music to mooncakes and art.

    The China Consumers Association said that it received 29.41 million complaints and inquiries in 2022, up by 23.5% year-on-year, and about 45% of them were from Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces, as well as Beijing and Shanghai. The growth rate for complaints last year was also twice as high as the previous year, which the watchdog said was due to the slump in the economy and logistical obstacles that people faced during the pandemic.

    With increasing awareness of consumer rights, both Chinese consumers and regulators are paying more attention to products and service providers and putting them under greater scrutiny. The state broadcaster has aired the “315 Evening Gala” on the eve of Consumer Rights Day since 1991, in which it calls out companies for violating consumer interests.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: Visuals from Viaframe/Corbis Creative and Shijue/VCG, reedited by Sixth Tone)