After paying for travel reservations online, it’s incredibly frustrating to find out you’d neglected to uncheck a box that automatically added unwanted travel services to your purchase, and by the time you find out what happened, it’s too late to change your overpriced order. Fortunately, this is one painful aspect of e-commerce that China is addressing.
China’s new e-commerce law went into effect on New Year’s Day, and while most of the attention has been focused on the law’s effects on China’s daigou (personal shoppers who make tax-free purchases overseas for resale in China) and the major online e-tailers, OTAs (online travel agencies) are also busy adapting to changes in the law.
A major consumer complaint against online travel agencies was upselling on their platforms – a practice where OTAs sign up customers for additional services like travel insurance unless they manually uncheck the options before purchasing. Now, it seems that the law is falling on the side of consumers as extra services can no longer be checked as a default on e-commerce sites.
In connection with this change, some platforms have opted to make these extras more visible in an attempt to entice customers to opt for these purchases. Many of these additional services appear insignificant in comparison to the overall cost of travel — flight delay insurance, for example, is only an additional $3 (RMB 20) on Ctrip — but buying multiple services for a trip can quickly add up.
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