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Merchants: Overcharging Foreigners?

Posted January. 30, 2007 06:47,   


“Some even browbeat us when we taste food samples without buying them,” said a foreigner living in Korea.

A recent survey found that some Korean merchants are still overcharging or forcing foreigners to buy goods because of their unfamiliarity with Korean society.

On January 29, the Korea Consumer Protection Board released a report titled the ‘Current Consumption Pattern of Foreigners living in Korea.’ According to the report, forced and fraudulent selling practices are still a problem in Korea.

The board conducted a survey on 545 foreigners legally residing in Korea’s metropolitan area for more than 3 months.

According to the survey, 41.0% of the respondents experienced hassles when they purchased goods or services in Korea.

Reasons for dissatisfaction (double checking was possible) ranged from general ones, such as poor quality or safety (37.1%), to discrimination against foreigners through excessive charges (33.0%), lack of information (42.1%), or difficulty in the purchasing process or product use (13.6%).

The damage to foreign consumers varied.

Many foreigners have to borrow Korean friends’ name to subscribe to mobile phone services, even though they have legal status in Korea. Some even reported paying money in advance to start their service.

Some foreigners claim that they can’t make online reservations for services like movies with credit cards. And others report that some homeowners ask foreigners to pay exorbitant rental fees, or one or two years of rent in advance.

In most cases, foreigners could not find a solution and had to adjust to the situation.

According to the report, 55.4% respondents said they just gave up, while 33.3% asked merchants or service providers to resolve the problem. A small proportion (6.8%) reported their problems to Korea’s consumer protection organizations.