Taobao Marketplace to Name and Shame Shady Online Merchants

Taobao Marketplace, Alibaba Group's giant C2C platform, will publish a blacklist of online merchants who have been penalized for selling counterfeit or shoddy products, the company announced today.

The decision to name and shame unscrupulous Taobao vendors coincides with the debut of a new micro-website that provides consumers with tips for safe online shopping and encourages Taobao buyers to report merchants who sell poor quality and fake goods. Called Baoguang Tai, which loosely translates as "exposure platform," the microsite is part of an ongoing effort to clean up Taobao Marketplace. More than 63 million product listings were removed from the website last year because they infringed or appeared to infringe on intellectual property rights, including more than 8.7 million that were taken down as a direct result of complaints from IP owners, according to spokeswoman Florence Shih.

Taobao officials recently petitioned the United States Trade Representative to be removed from that agency's "notorious markets" list, which names websites and physical markets around the world where counterfeit goods are heavily trafficked.

Shih added that Taobao last year paid out more than RMB43 million from a special fund set up in 2010 to provide speedy refunds to consumers who are unhappy with merchandise bought from Taobao merchants.

Meanwhile, more than 6 million vendors have enrolled in Taobao Marketplace’s consumer protection program, agreeing to offer service guarantees such as seven-day-no-questions-asked refunds, triple-the-price refunds for fake products, and 30-day unconditional repair services for consumer electronics and home appliances. The most expensive product returned under the no-questions refund policy so far was a jade product costing more than RMB499,000.