The premium of purchasing agents should be presented in a way that consumers can see, and some people cannot be condoned to deceive in the name of purchasing agents

Ms. Zhang from Shanghai ordered a few Shanghai dishes on the app, but she didn't expect that the long-overdue takeaway was "transferred" to Meituan, which was not her designated store. What's even more staggering is that the dishes have been "crazy price increases", with the highest premium for a single dish reaching 163%. The media investigation found that Ms. Zhang's encounters were all the operation methods of "purchasing agents". The platform has now refunded Ms. Zhang's entire order, and at the same time imposed offline penalties on the stores involved.

When ordering takeout on a takeaway platform, what you ordered is actually a purchasing service, which may have exceeded many people's perception of takeaway. What's even more unexpected is that the original price of 273 yuan for the dishes is 656.8 yuan, and the cost of purchasing errands has far exceeded the price of the dishes themselves. In the case that consumers do not know the actual price of the dish, such a purchasing service is simply deceptive. In fact, what the purchasing agent really has to do is to place a new order on other takeaway platforms after receiving the order, and he does not need to deliver it himself, and the errand is still the takeaway brother. Purchasing agents are purely based on information differences to obtain huge profits.

In business, it is not unethical to take advantage of the information gap to make money. The problem is that there should be an upper limit on the premium, and integrity cannot be discounted. Purchasing errands are to provide users with purchasing services, rather than directly operating or selling goods. If the offline store does not or is unwilling to provide takeaway services, the purchasing service is no different from other errand businesses, and the existence is reasonable. However, in the case that offline stores already provide takeaway services, the reasonableness of this takeaway purchasing service is debatable.

The stores in the news have takeaway on the Meituan platform, but not on the platform, so someone has opened a purchasing service on the platform. For offline stores, there seems to be no loss in taking orders on multiple platforms, but why only one platform is opened, and whether there is a problem of "choosing one of the two", we don't know. Of course, offline stores have the freedom to choose takeaway platforms, but under the circumstance that the regulatory authorities have already clearly required them, takeaway platforms can no longer make it difficult for merchants through direct or indirect "either-or" methods.

The purchasing store in the news clearly stated that "the store only provides errand buying services", and emphasized that "due to the high labor cost of purchasing agents, the products in our store have a premium, please understand", which is considered to be a clear price. However, whether consumers can see the store announcement and know that they are placing an order for purchasing services is another matter. More importantly, the platform clearly stipulates that the comprehensive premium of purchasing goods shall not exceed 20%, and the highest premium of a single dish in the purchasing store is 163% and the lowest premium is 66%, which obviously exceeds the reasonable profit range and is suspected of constituting price fraud to consumers.

Last month, also in Shanghai, a coffee shop made and sold high-quality imitation Starbucks in the name of purchasing agents. If the daigou store in the news does not go to other takeaway platforms to place a new order, but makes its own counterfeit dishes for sale, it may make more profits, but the food safety risks that may be caused are obviously greater. Therefore, in order to ensure that it is a real purchasing agent, the purchasing agent should be required to take the sales receipts of the offline store to the consumer for reimbursement, which can not only ensure that the purchasing agent is true, but also avoid excessive premiums.

Ms. Zhang's experience reminds food delivery platforms that they must strengthen their regulatory responsibilities and should be more stringent in reviewing daigou services. On the one hand, merchants have the obligation to clearly inform consumers of the nature of their purchasing agents, and place the purchasing announcement in a conspicuous position, even as a must-read content before users make payments; On the other hand, purchasing agents are not fraudulent purchases, and if the premium exceeds a certain limit, consumers must also be clearly informed that the order can only be made after obtaining the consumer's approval. In the final analysis, the premium of purchasing agents should be presented in a way that consumers can see, and some people cannot be connived at deception in the name of purchasing agents.

Chengdu Business Daily-Red Star News Special Commentator Shu Shengxiang