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[August 2020]

FY2019 Summary of Consumer Affairs Inquiries received through PIO-NET

This summary reflects consumer affairs inquiries collected by PIO-NET* in FY2019. Based on the data registered with PIO-NET through the end of May 2020, NCAC has analyzed trends of consumer affairs inquiries in FY2019.

Details of the information will be described on the "Annual Report on Consumer Affairs 2020", which will be released on NCAC's website in October 2020.

  1. * PIO-NET is a database that collects information on inquiries concerning consumer affairs by linking NCAC with local consumer affairs centers and similar organizations across Japan via an online network. Since FY2008, PIO-NET does not include inquiries referred from local consumer affairs centers to NCAC.

Trends and characteristics of FY2019 consumer affairs inquiries

  • The total number of inquiries in FY2019 was 934,944 which showed a decrease from 996,498 in FY2018. This result was affected by a decrease in inquiries related to "billing fraud".
  • The number of inquiries related to "billing fraud" increased between FY2012 and FY2018. While the number exceeded 200,000 in FY2017 and FY2018, the number drastically decreased to 109,000 in FY2019.
  • The breakdown of inquiries by age group of contract signatories showed that the percentage of contract signatories aged 70 or older was 24.5% in FY2019, still representing the highest proportion. The percentage of contract signatories under 20, in their 20s, 30s and 40s increased.
  • Compared to FY2018, an increase in the following categories was highlighted: "health foods" and "cosmetics" affected by cases where consumers who bought these products at lower prices and later found that they concluded a regular purchase contract; "life insurance" including foreign currency life insurance affected by troubles related to explanation and solicitation by sales persons; "sports viewing" affected by troubles over resold tickets for the Rugby World Cup and other events; and "electricity" affected by troubles when switching electricity contractors after being solicited via telephone or in person at home.
  • Typical complaints in FY2019 pertain to unavailability of face masks, toilet paper, etc. due to the COVID-19 pandemic, price escalation, reselling, non-delivery of articles purchased through online shopping sites, cancellation fees and refund when canceling an international package tour.
  • The breakdown of inquiries by sales/purchase method showed that "mail order sales", which accounted for 32.8% in FY2019, continued to be the top category since FY2013. There were numerous inquiries about "online stores".
  • Inquiries about "door-to-door sales", "telemarketing", "negative options" and "door-to-door purchase" were mostly from consumers aged 70 or older. Inquiries about "multilevel marketing" were mostly from consumers in their 20s.
  • The total and the average of purchased amount and paid-in amount decreased since FY2018. The total of purchased amount in FY2019 was 396,200,000,000 yen (average: 940,000 yen). The total of paid-in amount in FY2019 was 138,800,000,000 yen (average: 370,000 yen).
  • The breakdown of inquiries by sales tactic highlighted an increase in inquiries about cash on delivery parcels. There have been numerous complaints about emails informing that facial equipment will be sent on cash on delivery although consumers didn't place such an order. It has been also reported that some consumers, mostly young people in their 20s, were induced to sign up for expensive information for sale and were forced to borrow money from consumer finance companies to make payment.