Customers to get Tk 590m back from Qcoom for undelivered goods

Qcoom can now return payments worth Tk 590 million to its customers for undelivered goods after the commerce ministry brokered a deal between the troubled online shopping platform and payment gateway service Foster Payments.

Published : 10 Jan 2022, 03:09 PM
Updated : 10 Jan 2022, 03:09 PM

Both sides signed and submitted a report with their consent on the matter to the commerce ministry on Monday.

AHM Shafiquzzaman, additional secretary, said the ministry would now send a letter to the Bangladesh Bank asking it to take steps for the refund.

Abul Kalam Azad, the lawyer for Qcoom, said the representatives of the e-commerce firm and Foster sat and agreed on refunding the advance payments to the customers against 6,721 orders that were not delivered.

Al Beruni, a senior manager at Foster, had said at a meeting with the commerce ministry on Dec 28 that Qcoom delivered products worth Tk 680 million and the funds were stuck in the online shopping platform’s account with Foster that was frozen by the law enforcement.

Now the lawmen's permission will be required to refund the customers and release Qcoom’s funds for the delivered products.

Launched in mid-2020, Qcoom had received about Tk 5 billion of payments from Foster. It still has nearly Tk 4 billion stuck with the payment gateway service, Azad said, citing records kept until the arrest of Qcoom Chairman and CEO Mohammad Ripon Mia on Oct 4, 2021.

The blocked funds include Tk 2.5 billion of the customers who did not receive products, mostly motorcycles, after paying in advance, according to the lawyer. Qcoom will have to deliver 22,000 more motorcycles or refund the customers, he said.

Qcoom and Foster, according to Azad, could not wrap up the negotiation because the e-commerce company’s papers are stuck in its sealed-off office and warehouse.

He said the company would write to the government within a day or two for the permission to use the papers in its office and deliver products from its warehouse following the commerce ministry’s advice.

Sixteen e-commerce firms filed a complaint with the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh in September last year, saying billions of takas have been stuck in payment gateways, a new development in the burgeoning, but scam-hit online business.

They said they were not getting the money from the gateways even after delivering products. The complaint came amid investigations into the allegations of fraud against some e-commerce firms.

Bangladesh Bank said the manual system of checking receipt confirmation from customers was delaying the clearance of the payment, but the money was “not stuck”.

Amid a horde of allegations against some e-commerce firms, such as Evaly and Eorange, over their failure to deliver products and pay the suppliers, the commerce ministry in early July issued a set of instructions for digital commerce companies.

It ordered them to deliver products within 10 days. According to the instructions, the companies will get the payments only after the customers confirm receipt of the products. In this period, the funds will stay in the payment gateways.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher