FY2019 Summary of "Consumer Trouble Mailbox" - Your information helped improve price indication and terms of service!
NCAC has a data collecting section on its website titled "Consumer Trouble Mailbox" (hereinafter called "Trouble Mailbox") set up in April 2002 in order to collect up-to-date information on consumer detriment and to help prevent the occurrence of similar problems in Japan. The following show the outline of information received through Trouble Mailbox in FY2019 and major cases on which the follow-up survey was conducted.
Trends in information
Main subjects received by Trouble Mailbox in FY2019:
- Trouble related to COVID-19 infection
- Trouble over online shopping
- Trouble related to billing fraud or unjust billing
- Trouble related to online games
- Trouble over communication service contracts (e.g. optical fiber communication contract)
- Trouble over interpersonal transactions
- Trouble over information for sale
- Others (e.g. proxy application site for applying the electronic system for travel authorization, trouble when terminating a rental apartment contract, etc.)
Cases on which follow-up survey was conducted
- Bicycle rental service advertised as "Free except for usage fee", for which a registration fee is also charged
- Furniture shop advertising a queen size mattress, which actually consists of two single mattresses
- Sports gym advertising "Free for two months", not clearly indicating that a six-month contract is a condition for offering the privilege
- Bank advertising cashback for customers entering into a credit card contract, not indicating that cashback is given only if customers have used the credit card for paying mobile phone rates for several months
- Clothes sold without company name and contact information on product labels
- Event management company does not refund admission fee for an event canceled by bad weather
- Although wrong color paint was delivered, the online sales company charged the consumer the shipping cost for replacing the wrong product with the correct one
- Online sales company insisting to a consumer who is hearing-impaired and unable to communicate via telephone that cancellation of regular purchase is accepted only via telephone
- Natural refrigerant CO2 heat pump boiler turns bathwater blue
Notification to the Consumer Affairs Agency
Under the Consumer Safety Act, serious accidents (incidents of death or serious injuries/diseases which required medical treatment of 30 days or more) and incidents which could cause serious accidents (so called "close call incidents") are immediately notified to the Consumer Affairs Agency. In FY2019, NCAC notified the Consumer Affairs Agency of 4 serious accidents and 70 close call incidents.
Number of reports by fiscal year
The number of reports received in FY2019 was 10,198 representing a slight increase from 9,886 in FY2018. The average number of reports per day was around 28.
Traffic to "Trouble Mailbox"
The traffic to the top page of "Trouble Mailbox" (Japanese page) amounted to 126,351 which is at roughly the same level as the previous fiscal year. On the other hand, the traffic to the top page of "Q&A on frequent consumer problems (FAQ)" (Japanese page) amounted to 534,840 which is more than double from the previous fiscal year.
Number of items listed in FAQ
As of the end of March 2020, 268 items were listed in the FAQ section.
Attributes of senders
Males account for nearly 60% (males: 59.7%, females: 40.3%).
Senders in their 30s to 50s account for slightly over 70%.
The percentage of "salary earners" and "independent business or freelance" accounts for nearly 80%.
According to the three-hour breakdown of posting time, there was just a slight difference in number of posting in every three hours during 9:00 - 23:59. About 9% of the senders posted between midnight and early morning (0:00 - 5:59). The data indicate that there's a certain need for the online system which allows consumers to send information any time in a day.