[Photo via tuchong.com]

It is common that service providers in beauty salons, catering and entertainment, education and training and other service areas would adopt marketing approaches to attract consumers into pre-paid long-term membership. However, in recent years, prepaid consumption has frequently encountered such problems as closing down of stores and absconding of operators.

Consumers should be alert to various prepaid consumption cards, and are advised not to prepay too much at once for holding risks accountable. Consumers are recommended to sign written agreements on prepaid cards with service providers, clearly stipulating the discounts, scope of use, consumption period, transfer requirements, refund conditions, and liability for breach of contract. Verbal promises from merchants should be taken with a grain of salt.

When traveling, some links in the purchasing process are prone to consumer disputes, while consumers should be aware of their rights and be more attentive in the following areas:

Pay attention to contract signing. Travel agencies generally do not sign contracts with 100 percent of consumers for one-day trips. Therefore consumers taking a group tour must be sure to choose a qualified travel agency and sign a relatively comprehensive travel contract. Consumers should read the terms of the contract carefully before placing an order. Proper contracts will contain a comprehensive tour itinerary along with a detailed description, as well as clear attribution of responsibility to both parties. If the travel agency is unable to provide a travel contract, or if the content contained in the travel contract is vague, consumers should think twice before making a decision.

During short-distance driving tours, scenic spots or local merchants may not have a clear price tag. To avoid fraud as much as possible, consumers should ask the price in advance and then determine whether or not to make a purchase. In addition, if consumers rent a car for a driving tour, they should sign a formal contract at the pick-up location to avoid possible consumer disputes. Check the vehicle thoroughly when picking up the car. In addition to the reminders of the car rental staff on vehicle license, volume of fuel, appearance and any other areas, consumers should also check for an insurance policy, fire extinguisher, emergency warning triangle, spare tire, and other safety and emergency materials that will ensure one’s safety while driving.

Upon infringement of their legitimate rights and interests during tourism activities, consumers should promptly apply for mediation with local tourism complaint acceptance agencies or relevant mediation organizations in the event that negotiations with tour operators fail. Consumers may also use legal means to effectively protect their rights and interests where necessary.

When consumers choose to shop through livestreaming commerce, the first thing to do is to check the business information and business license of the sellers disclosed by the live streaming platform. If the platform does not have business licenses of the sellers, consumers are advised not to purchase their goods or services. Otherwise, it would be difficult to protect themselves by law in the event of any infringement against their rights and interests.

Also consumers should not blindly believe any promises made by hosts regarding product efficacy and ultra-low pricing. Consumers should be rational and make prudent purchases according to the actual needs. In addition, consumers should keep records of video, chat records, payment receipts and more as evidence so that they may quickly contact the sellers and the platforms in case of any problem with the products purchased. Where negotiation fails, consumers may file a complaint to local consumer associations or market regulatory authorities, or they may apply for arbitration or file a lawsuit in court to protect their legitimate rights and interests by law.