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7-day return policy for seniors targets healthcare scams

By Tian Xuefei and Zhou Huiying in Harbin | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-11-05 17:01

Elderly people in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province can now return healthcare products bought at promotional events within a week — no questions asked — as part of a new policy to protect seniors against fraud.

Companies regularly organize sales events in China designed to hawk healthcare products to elderly residents. However, accusations abound over the use of misleading advertising and aggressive sales techniques.

The Heilongjiang People's Congress, the provincial legislature, said it found multiple violations of consumer rights regulations during inspections of such activities in September.

As a result, lawmakers have brought in a rule that allows shoppers age 60 and over to return any healthcare product they purchase within seven days without giving a reason.

Those who provide venues for marketing events are also now responsible for verifying the sellers' credentials, while incentives have been offered to encourage people to report illegal activity.

"I've read lots of reports about seniors being cheated into buying healthcare products," said Dong Zun, 36, a civil servant in Harbin, the provincial capital. "The victims not only lose money but also suffer damage to their physical health.

"I worry that my parents could be affected by such fraud. The new policy provides a good safeguard to prevent our parents and grandparents from being hurt."

Wen Caimei, 61, a retired accountant in Harbin, said several stores in her residential community sell healthcare products, with lectures organized for senior citizens almost every day.

"I've listened to several lectures and some were really useful. But I didn't buy the products because I can't judge the quality," she said. "Seniors want products that improve our health condition. This rule will give us a greater sense of security when making a purchase."

However, Feng Zhuo, an attorney at Heilongjiang Weihong Law Office, said the return policy cannot alone solve the problem, as "it needs the joint efforts from different government departments and the whole of society".

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