Surge of complaints about seafood telemarketing and negative option! Be careful with phone calls like "Due to COVID-19 pandemic, we are suffering a fall in income"
There has been a surge in complaints about seafood telemarketing and negative option. Local consumer affairs centers and the like across Japan received more than 5,000 inquiries and complaints on this issue in fiscal 2021, double the number of the previous fiscal year.
According to the information from consumers, some sellers played on consumers' kindness and compassion (e.g. "Due to COVID-19 pandemic, we are suffering a fall in income,") while others persistently solicited consumers to buy something (e.g. "You should buy our products!") In addition, numerous consumers were bothered by negative option: although consumers declined to buy a product in telemarketing sales, the product arrived at a later date.
In order to prevent these kinds of problems, NCAC would like to share some trouble cases and issue an alert to consumers.
Diagram: Number of inquiries about seafood telemarketing and negative option registered with PIO-NET*
The inquiries amounted to 1,963 in FY2017, 2,150 in FY2018, 1,652 in FY2019, 2,280 in FY2020 and 5,189 in FY2021.
- * 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.
I bought seafood because a telemarketer begged for support. The product arrived, but it does not deserve the price
In early December 2021, there was a phone call to my home from a seafood seller who said, "Due to COVID-19 pandemic, we are suffering a fall in income. Would you buy our products to support us?" My old mother and I had a talk and placed an order for a seafood assortment of about 18,000 yen, recommended by the seller. At the end of December, the seller phoned me again and explained about the delivery. A few days later, the product arrived cash on delivery. The assortment consists of snow crab claws, salmon, flavored herring roe, scallop adductor, dried overnight squid, etc. The product is so bad in quality and does not deserve the high price. I put it in the freezer and I haven't consumed any of it. A written contract is attached, but it does not mention about the cooling-off rule. Although the contract date is written as a date of November, I initially received the phone call from the seller later than the date. Is it possible for me to exercise the cooling-off right?
- A telemarketer hustled me into buying seafood. Although I accepted the offer, I want to decline it.
- When my old mother was solicited to buy seafood on the phone, she declined the offer. However, the product arrived cash on delivery and she paid the price.
Advice for consumers
If you notice anything odd, refuse flatly
Some sellers play on consumers' kindness and compassion to make them hard to decline (e.g. "Due to COVID-19 pandemic, we are suffering a fall in income,"). Other sellers may say "You bought our product before" and persistently solicit consumers to buy. If you notice anything odd (e.g. excessive emotional appeal, recalling nothing of seller's talk, discrepancies, no contact details mentioned, coercive sales), stop talking and refuse flatly.
You can exercise the cooling-off right if you have made a contract in telemarketing sales
If you have made a contract when receiving a sales call, it is a contract in telemarketing sales under the Act on Specified Commercial Transactions. Even if you have accepted to buy a product (e.g. seafood) on the phone, you can exercise the cooling-off right within eight days after receiving documents specified in the Act.
Do not receive a product when it has arrived without ordering! Even if you have received such a product, you don't need to pay for it
Numerous consumers have been bothered by negative option: although consumers declined to buy a seafood product in telemarketing sales, the product arrived at a later date. In this case, record the name and postal address of the sender and do not accept the delivery nor pay for it.
Even if you have paid the price when a non-ordered product has arrived cash on delivery, you don't have to bear the expense of the product. Tell the seller that you didn't order the product and request for a refund. When you are charged for a non-ordered product after receiving it, ignore the demand.
In case of trouble, consult your local consumer affairs center
In case of trouble or concern, consult your local consumer affairs center, instead of worrying alone.