And when grievances occur, they are most cited in informal publications on social media such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook, and rarely reach the courts. 

The competition watchdog, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK), indicates that the complaints from the e-commerce space have increased by almost 50 per cent in the recent past. 

Data from CAK shows that out of 26 company websites reviewed, eight had terms and conditions which violate some sections of the consumer protection law. The consumer protection concerns identified were: inaccessibility of return and refund policies; non-full disclosure of information; use of fine print; pressure selling; and unfavourable cancellation policies. 

Already, CAK has ordered the companies to revise their terms and conditions to ensure compliance. “Seven of the companies have reviewed their terms and conditions. However, CAK is finalizing investigations into one company which is yet to revise its terms and conditions to ensure compliance with the Act,” says the government agency. 

Company websites reviewed include: JazaCart Online, Masoko, Cheki, Technix, Omall, Epepea, Patabay, Jiji, Jumia, Kilimall, Pigiame, Avechi, Mimi Online, Victoria Furnitures, Furniture Palace, E-Pharmacy, Pharmashop, Chandarana Food Plus, Baby Mama, Millan Baby Shop, Mother & Baby Shop, Uber, Taxify, Smart Baby Kenya, Bonfire Adventures and Travel Shore Africa. 

Cmpetition Authority of Kenya

While there are success stories of online shopping, the frequent cases of online scams have made some consumers sceptical of purchasing goods from online stores.

To avoid falling into the trap of uncertainties that come with online shopping, here are a few factors that a consumer should consider before making any purchase.

  1. Always examine product details

One of the major mistakes buyers make when shopping online is not reading product descriptions. Most buyers usually make a purchase based on the image displayed. Always read and understand the product’s details before putting it into the cart to avoid disappointments.

  1. Product reviews

It is best to look at reviews from past buyers. This will give you an idea of the quality of products and services being offered and they will also help you gauge the credibility of the seller.

  1. Compare the price of the product

Due to the availability of many vendors in the online space, it is prudent to compare prices between several vendors to get an idea of the best price for value.

4. Return and cancellation policies 

It is also crucial to check on the return policy. This gives you an idea of what to do if the wrong product is delivered or you get a defective product. In most cases, being able to return a product makes you confident in making your purchase

5. Scams and fraud

To avoid falling into fraudsters’ traps, it is crucial to check the verification of the online store you are dealing with before you transact. There are various ways one can check if a website is fake such as Google Trusted Stores. 

E-commerce is a rising market in Kenya that warrants significant attention as the revenue for 2022 is expected to reach $3.6 million (Kshs419 million). The current user penetration is expected to be around 40.3 percent, but by 2025, this number is expected to grow to 53.6 percent.

An African data intelligence platform, Kasi Insight