May 6, 2021 9:45 AM
PETALING JAYA: Two consumer groups have called on the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) to investigate e-commerce giant Shopee for allegedly offering RM3,000 in vouchers to sellers to close their stores on Lazada.
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) said the allegation, if true, stifles competition, while the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) said the move is akin to using the vouchers as “bait” to attract sellers.
“If an e-commerce provider says ‘Just sell on my platform, don’t sell on others’, that’s not proper,” said Fomca’s chief executive officer, Saravanan Thambirajah.
“There has to be competition. When there is competition, consumers will gain. If someone is distorting the market, MyCC should take action.”
Saravanan also called on the sellers to report to MyCC if they felt they were being “disturbed” by e-commerce platforms.
Noting the numerous reports consumers have filed against the two e-commerce giants regarding fake products and scams on the platform, he said MyCC has been pushing the domestic trade and consumer affairs minister to take action against the sites.
“That’s also why they should definitely investigate this,” he said.
“The most important agency to investigate this is MyCC as this falls under their purview.”
Shopee’s offer was made in an alleged WhatsApp conversation between a seller and the e-commerce company which recently surfaced on tech portal Tech in Asia.
“Shopee is looking to sponsor RM3,000 (worth of) vouchers to selected sellers. The only condition is to shut down your Lazada store for 9/9 (a popular Lazada sale),” reads the WhatsApp text, which was supposedly sent last year to a Shopee seller.
While Shopee declined to comment when contacted by FMT, it is understood the vouchers provide sellers with discounts on service fees.
Apart from forfeiting these vouchers if the exclusivity agreement is breached, the penalties include the withdrawal of participation in free shipping programmes and having items not featured in marketing campaigns temporarily.
CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader also urged MyCC to investigate the allegation.
“This is like going fishing and using these vouchers as bait. In the end, the consumers are the victims.
“The sellers should be free to choose. Why are they being tied down?” he said.