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[August 2021]

FY2020 Summary of Consumer Affairs Inquiries received through PIO-NET

This summary reflects consumer affairs inquiries collected by PIO-NET* in FY2020. Based on the data registered with PIO-NET through the end of May 2020, NCAC has analyzed trends of consumer affairs inquiries in FY2020.

Details of the information will be described in the "Annual Report on Consumer Affairs 2021", which will be released on NCAC's website in October 2021.

  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 FY2020 consumer affairs inquiries

  • The total number of inquiries in FY2020 was 939,343 - not very different from 939,575 in FY2019.
  • The number of inquiries related to "billing fraud" exceeded 200,000 in FY2017 and FY2018, but the number decreased to 109,000 in FY2019 and to 28,000 in FY2020.
  • Inquiries related to COVID-19 amounted to 79,839 in FY2020.
  • Compared to FY2019, an increase in the following categories was noticeable: "other health supplies" (e.g. face masks), "other medical instruments" (e.g. clinical thermometers, pulse oximeters) and "men's clothes and women's clothes", about which many consumers complained that online orders were not delivered, "health food" and "cosmetics" affected by trouble over regular purchase, "other services" affected by uninvited offers to help obtain fire insurance coverage to cover house repair costs, and "repair service" related to water pipe repair costs far more than advertised prices.
  • The coronavirus pandemic brought about some inquiries related to the following issues: local government service pertaining to COVID-19 subsidy payments, wedding cancellation or postponement fees, etc.
  • The breakdown of inquiries by age group of contract signatories showed that the percentage of contract signatories aged 70 or older was 22.1% in FY2020, still representing the highest proportion. The percentage of contract signatories under 20, in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s increased.
  • The breakdown of inquiries by sales/purchase method showed that "mail order sales", which accounted for 39.7% in FY2020 increasing from 32.9% in FY2019, continued to be the top category since FY2013. There were numerous inquiries about "online stores".
  • Inquiries about "door-to-door sales", "telemarketing" 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 average of purchased amount and paid-in amount decreased since FY2019. The total of purchased amount in FY2020 was 340,100,000,000 yen (average: 730,000 yen). The total of paid-in amount in FY2020 was 112,000,000,000 yen (average: 290,000 yen).
  • The breakdown of inquiries by sales tactic showed an increase in inquiries about television shopping programs from consumers aged 70 or older (related to health food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals). Regarding "negative option", many consumers received face masks from overseas that they didn't order. There were numerous complaints about "cash on delivery" (related to clothes and bags).