Consumer Affairs Agency, Government Of Japan
  • Font Size:

White Paper on Consumer Affairs 2013 [Summary]

Part 1 Today’s consumer issues and consumers’ behavior/attitude

Chapter 3 Trends in consumer issues

Section 3 Property-related consumer problems

Consumer accidents reported under the Consumer Safety Act included a fewer number of property-related cases

Consumer accidents reported to the Consumer Affairs Agency in FY 2012 under the Consumer Safety Act included 9,916 property-related cases, down 18.9% from 12,228 in the previous year. In particular, “financial & insurance services” and “transport & communications services” indicated a notable decrease. The breakdown of property-related cases reported in FY 2012 by goods/service type shows that services accounted for a larger part (52.2%) of the total than goods (42.4%).

Figure 3-3-1 The number of property-related cas-es declined 20% from a year earlier

Figure 3-3-2 Services account for a larger part of property-related cases than products

Consultations on “transport & communications services” are increasing; Consultations on “financial & insurance services” are decreasing

The breakdown of consumer affairs consultations by type of goods/service shows that, among goods, the leading topic was “educational & leisure goods” (e.g., books and other printed matter), accounting for 7.8%, followed by “foodstuffs” (e.g., health food), accounting for 5.8%. Among services, “transport & communications services” (e.g., broadcasting, content) accounted for the largest proportion at 24.7%, followed by “financial & insurance services” (e.g., money lending services), accounting for 13.3%. While the share of “transport & communications services” has been increasing, that of “financial & insurance services” has been declining.

Figure 3-3-3 Transport & communications services account for a growing part of total consultations

Consultations on “online games” and “SNS” are increasing

Consultations on “online games,” which allow users to play games on the Internet through PCs and mobile telephones, and “social networking services (SNS),” which are membership web services to provide members with a virtual space for socializing, have increased significantly in recent years. A notable trend in consultations on online games is that the average amount paid rose close to ¥130,000 in FY 2012 from less than ¥80,000 in 2009 to 2011.

Figure 3-3-6 Consultations on SNS are increasing

Figure 3-3-7 Consultations on online games soared in FY 2012, with troubled consumers having paid more than double the year-ago level on average

(Special note) Gacha
“Gacha” here refers to a scheme that provides users with characters and items to use in online games. The data refers to consultations on “electronic lottery for online games” registered with PIO-NET.

Consultations on “adult websites” remain dominant

The leading issue of consultations on e-commerce has been “adult websites.” In FY 2012, more than 60,000 cases were recorded, although the number was smaller than the year-ago level. Approximately 30% of these problems were about undeletable billing messages displayed on the screen. In these cases, users typically see the same billing message appear on the screen every time they start their PCs and it keeps popping up even after being removed.

Figure 3-3-8 Undeletable billing messages displayed on the screen account for about 30% of consultations on adult websites

Fraudulent schemes based on “dating websites” are becoming more sophisticated

More than 20,000 consultations were provided on “dating websites” in FY 2012, although the total number has been on the decline over the years. Consultations on dating websites can be divided into several types by scheme, including (1) those for consumers who accessed the site for the purpose of meeting people of the opposite or same gender (dating type); (2) those for consumers who accessed the site for the purpose of giving consultation to people pretending to be celebrities, entertainers, their managers, or others claiming to be in trouble (sympathy type); and (3) those for consumers who accessed the site for the purpose of earning money (benefit-driven type).

Figure 3-3-9 About a quarter of consultations on dating websites are about those using a benefit-driven approach

(Special note) “Dating websites” include those not meeting the requirements under the law to regulate dating websites (Act on Regulation on Soliciting Children by Using Opposite Sex Introducing Service on Internet).

Focus in Internet-related consultations varies by generation: online games for those under 20 years and those in their 30s, and SNS for those in their 20s

The breakdown of consultations on the Internet in FY 2012 by age group shows that consumers under 20 years old and those in their thirties were dominant in consultations on “online games,” and those in their twenties accounted for a large proportion of consultations on “SNS.” Consultations on “Internet auctions,” “smartphones,” “smartphone-related services,” and “dating websites” were dominated by consumers in their thirties to forties.

Figure 3-3-12 Age breakdowns of Internet-related consultations vary by topic

Illicit practices by limited dishonest businesses have worsened the image of door-to-door sales and telemarketing sales

Door-to-door sales and telemarketing sales are common forms of sales, but some dishonest businesses engage in illicit practices, such as high-pressure solicitation and false explanation. In fact, this has worsened the image of door-to-door sales and telemarketing sales among consumers. In a consumer survey, 30.8% of respondents said they had received an unsolicited visit by a door-to-door sales representative urging them to buy goods/services in the past year, and 58.5% said they had received an unsolicited phone call from a telemarketer for such purposes in the past year. More than 90% of them said these kinds of door-to-door sales and telemarketing sales were “somewhat unwelcome” or “unwelcome.”

Figure 3-3-13 Among those solicited through door-to-door sales and through telemarketing sales over the past year, respectively, about 40% have experienced illicit practices

Figure 3-3-14 More than 90% of consumers provided negative answers about unsolicited (unexpected) door-to-door sales and telemarketing

Consultations on door-to-door purchase (high-pressure buyers)* of precious metals soared in FY 2010 to FY 2011

Fiscal 2010 and 2011 saw a sharp increase in consultations on door-to-door purchase (high-pressure buyers)* of precious metals and other items. In typical cases, unknown buyers abruptly visited consumers and bought their precious items (e.g., gems, rings, gold coins) at unreasonably low prices without due explanation. In a consumer survey, 18.2% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked whether they had been visited by any “high-pressure buyer” in the past year. The percentage was particularly high for women and people in their sixties and older.

Figure 3-3-15 Consultations on door-to-door purchase of precious metals soared in FY 2010 to FY 2011

* Door-to-door purchase(High-pressure buyers) is a fraud scheme that malicious buyers who would abruptly visit consumers and press them to sell their precious items (e.g., gems, rings, gold coins) and kimono at low prices without due explanation.

Figure 3-3-16 Slightly less than 20% of consumers said they have been visited by a “high-pressure buyer” in the past year

Page Top