Protection under the law
Association of companies the Internet-trade (AKIT brings together 20 Russian online retailers, including Ozon.ru, Lamoda.ru, Ulmart, KupiVIP, etc.) has asked the Prosecutor General and the Supreme court to determine whether foreign online retailers to comply with Russian legislation on protection of consumer rights. Letters addressed to the Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika and the Chairman of the Supreme court Vyacheslav Lebedev told RBC President AKITA, managing partner, “220 Volt” Alexey Fedorov. Copies of both appeals is available to RBC.
The official representative of the Prosecutor General Aleksandr Kurennoy said RBC that the Agency has not yet received the address of the Association. The representative of the Supreme court did not respond to a request RBC.
AKITA asks Supreme court and the Prosecutor General’s office to clarify two controversial points: at what point ownership of the goods passes from the buyer to the seller and why the responsible Ministry, for example, the CPS does not protect the rights of consumers in the case of foreign retailers, said RBC Fedorov.
The transfer of ownership occurs at the moment when the buyer receives the goods, not at the time of ordering and payment in a store, follows from the universal postal Convention, and hence consumer rights should be protected in the Russian jurisdiction, the letter reads. However, the responsible authorities leave the decision about the refund for the store, which operates under the laws of the country where it is registered, indicate in AKITA. For example, the Chinese AliExpress decides whether to react to complaints of users in Russia, Fyodorov says.
Russian retailers offer a Seagull and Lebedev to introduce a system of penalties for foreign online stores that violate the rights of Russian consumers, as well as amendments to the Federal law “On enforcement proceedings”, to determine the order for damages with foreign citizens and companies. Which may be a system of fines, retailers do not specify. The Supreme court also asked the Association to “clarify” whether the foreign merchants to be guided by Russian legislation, upon delivery of the goods into the country, and to determine which authorities are responsible for protecting the rights of consumers. AKIT also proposes to establish a registry of unscrupulous shops.
Now the legislation allows to prosecute foreign companies that bring Russian buyers of the goods of improper quality and counterfeit notes of AKIT in the letters. According to the Association, cases of sale of such goods “increased” along with the growing popularity of purchases from abroad: only in the first quarter of 2016, according to estimates of the AKITA, the number of international shipments of commodity investment” has grown by 182%, to 48 million units. Since the cost of 90% of orders does not exceed 1.1 thousand RUB, the affected consumers prefer not to enter into litigation: costs of lawyers and payment of fees are more expensive than the actual purchase, explained the Russian retailers in a letter.
A controversial issue
Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev agree with the position of AKITA. “When you buy something in a foreign shop, you agree to the rules of the site, and they are likely to involve the transfer of ownership at the time of payment. In this case, the product goes to Russia as a product of a private person, for personal needs, the risk of loss and the loss of the goods passes to the buyer,” he explains. If you do not agree with these conditions, we can assume that the product delivers to the company itself, then it must be legalized in compliance with all tax and customs procedures and sold to the final consumer under the contract of purchase and sale, said Marinichev.
Legally most foreign online stores under the “evidence of purchase” means the payment of goods on the website,” says the President of the National Association of distance selling (NAMO) Alexander Ivanov. Unlike Marinicheva, Ivanov believes that the problems with the protection of the rights of consumers does not exist. “NAMO consulted a survey of buyers, who explained that to get money back from a Chinese online store even easier than Russian,” — said the head of the Association. According to him, foreign stores return money for the defective product and does not require from the consumer a refund or shipment of defective products at his own expense: on the websites of the companies already exists, “a simple and efficient procedure”.
The relations of foreign traders and consumers should apply the law of the country where he lives buyer (article 1212 of the Civil code), but foreign online stores operating in Russia, according to the rules, “referring us to a foreign law that would violate the Russian legislation, says the managing partner of the law firm Gaffer&Gaffer Denis Kosenkov. Clarification of the Prosecutor General and the Supreme court will not replace the provisions of the legislation: it would be important to know the position of the Ministry of Finance as the Agency responsible for tax collection, said the lawyer.
The problem of the retail import is one of the most serious in e-Commerce, the adviser of the President of Russia on the Internet Herman Klimenko. In this industry there is no consensus on how to solve this problem, and requests to the Prosecutor General and the Supreme court is unlikely to contribute to that, Klimenko specifies.
The CEO of Alibaba Group in Russia mark Zawadzki declined to comment on the initiatives of the AKITA. CEO of eBay Russia Vladimir Dolgov has not responded to a request to RBC.
As in Russia struggle with foreign Internet shops
AKITA has repeatedly proposed to require foreign online retailers to register in Russia representative offices and pay taxes. Existing conditions do not allow Russian players to compete on commodity prices: they are higher, because the domestic business has to pay 18% VAT included in the price of goods, and the Chinese — no, complained the representatives of the Association at the meeting of the working group on the regulation of cross-border trade in February 2016. The representatives of foreign stores then noted the complexity of the introduction of net sellers, many of whom are individuals, for example, on such sites as eBay and AliExpress. To require each of them to register in Russia for payment of taxes impossible, explained the head of the Russian eBay Vladimir Dolgov.
The CPS is also proposed to regulate the liability of online shopping. In July 2015, the Department proposed to amend the law “On protection of consumers’ rights, which would oblige the aggregators of product offerings on the Internet to publish on the website complete information on product: information about the manufacturer, service life, etc. otherwise, the CPS could block them in Russia. Later, the Agency mitigated the penalty to a fine. The amendments were made by the representatives of Russian companies, which indicated that the bill puts domestic commodity aggregators in unequal conditions with foreign shops. July 11, 2016, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets sent the bill for revision.