Taobao should respond to vendors' requests: Ministry

Updated: 2011-10-17 09:47


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BEIJING -- The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) urged Taobao Mall, a unit of Alibaba Group, to actively respond to the pertinent requests of small merchandisers who protested the website's membership fee hike.

The MOC is very concerned about the recent protests against Taobao Mall, the country's largest business-to-consumer e-commerce platform, and will try to defuse the conflict in order to stabilize prices and support small businesses, according to a statement posted on its website.

While Taobao Mall should listen to vendors, small business owners should express their requests through legal means, the MOC said.

Taobao Mall said on Monday it would increase its annual membership fees from 6,000 yuan ($941) to between 30,000 yuan to 60,000 yuan, depending on the type and scale of the business.

The fees will be fully or partially returned to a shop if its scale and service quality meet specific targets, Taobao Mall said.

The fee hike would hardly affect larger businesses, but small shop owners may feel a financial pinch.

Thousands of small-scale Taobao Mall vendors started protesting online Tuesday night by buying up goods from bigger vendors and then asking for refunds or filing complaints in order to interrupt their businesses. 

They also gathered in an online chat room to discuss more ways to disrupt business on the website.

Taobao Mall said Wednesday that it had referred the matter to the police.

Since being established on April 4, 2008, Taobao Mall hosts more than 400 million registered users, 50,000 registered businesses and 70,000 brands.

Products sold on Taobao Mall range from daily essentials to household appliances and cars.

The new regulation is seen as part of Taobao's efforts to bring order to its online shopping platform, where consumers have repeatedly complained about fraud and counterfeit products.