Islamabad - With the rapid multiplying broadband subscription and internet usage on handsets, the e-commerce business is burgeoning like never before and so is the number of associated complaints.

According to the latest data of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Broadband subscribers in the country have reached 27,859,752, in January 2016.

In addition to broadband, 3G/4G service subscribers also saw a phenomenal growth, during previous years. In January 2016, 3G/4G users jumped to 24,709,975, from 13,498,677 in 2014-15.

Increase in usage of Internet resulted in a paradigm shift, new virtual stores emerged and users found it hard to resist their temptations.

The fancy advertisements were enough to lure many, who treated them on face value making them fall prey to it.

“I ordered a bundle offer of t-shirts from Kaymu.com and when I opened the parcel, I was shocked to see four nylon-rich cotton shirts, it was entirely different from what they were showing on their website,” said Shoukat Yab Khan, a buyer.

He said he placed the order after watching the ad on many social websites, promising a huge saving.

“Bundle offer in Rs999 was viral, it was cash on delivery. So I thought to give it a try. When I tried to open the parcel after paying the price to see what they have sent me, It was different from what they had showed me. The courier went away, telling me to contact website in case of any complaint,” Khan said.

The customers who shopped from other websites including daraz.pk and exportleftovers.com shared the same experience and said they never received what was promised in the advertisement.

“When I tried to send it back, the website asked me to courier the parcel on my expense and they will replace the product. I calculated that if I send it back, I will have to bear Rs 400 expense. So I gave up the idea,” Sultan Mehmood another shopper said.

Many complainants said that whenever they tried to talk to the owners of the online stores, they failed. They also protested the refund procedure.

"After repeated calls, the company agreed to return the product on their own cost. After many days when courier finally picked up the defective products, they sent an email voucher offering to settle the amount in next purchase, and again I received one defective item in my parcel and finally I gave up,” said Inayat Amin, another shopper.

Attempts to contact online store management for comments largely remained unfruitful.

Salman Khawar, who introduced himself as the director of one of the online store, exportleftovers.com said his company was selling quality products. When given the details of orders, he said defective items were sent erroneously.

“We buy in bulk, we do check quality of merchandise but sometimes it is overlooked,” Khawar said, in an email, rejecting allegations of cheating.

Answering a question that websites (including exportleftovers.com) claim of selling leftovers, he said China was a big exporter and they had leftovers too. He said a major portion of his website was still leftovers but since they were expanding, they were now selling anything with good value for money.

“Most of them are cheaters, you cannot post your comments on any virtual store. All feedback is controlled by moderator, where only praises are uploaded and negative feedback is never accommodated,” another shopper said. He demanded that the business must be regulated by the government in order to have a check and balance.

It is not only clothes or lifestyle products being sold on Internet. Some of the stores are offering instant weight loss solutions, while some are even selling medicines to cure complicated health conditions, including sexual disorders.

It is hard to ignore pictorial ads flashing on the left panel of email box or facebook pages, for many. These pictorial fantasies could play havoc with the immature minds, as large number of Internet users are youngsters.

Dr. Rashid, a physician at a local private hospital, told about a teenage patient who had been a victim of using a cream which he had bought from an online store.

It is not our mandate, said Ministry of Information Technology officials, advising to contact PTA.

The response of the regulator was also the same. "It is not the mandate of PTA", a top official said. He said online business was a reflection of society and cheating or other unethical practices were the same as were in physical market. However, he stressed the need to establish an independent government body to regulate online business, especially, when in coming days, health and education will also be on Internet.

Federal Investigation Agency's Cyber Crime Wing is active in checking online frauds. But the specialised cell also showed helplessness.

“For small scale online frauds FIA cyber wing is effective and users can register their complaints. However, we have limitations. We are not equipped with handling large number of complaints,” official said.

Despite all the challenges there are people, who believe, with the passage of time the prevailing challenges will convert into opportunities.

“It is true that majority of the virtual stores are doing business with only approach of making money. This maybe due to the high cost of doing business with small volume. But in coming days, when e-business will grow, only those, selling quality items will survive, rest will just perish,” said Asad Hayat, a freelance IT Professional.