Shopee is under investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in the Philippines after a controversial promotional campaign that might be in violation of the Consumer Act, reports Philstar.com.
The Southeast Asian e-commerce firm could be penalized up to PHP 300,000 (approximately USD 5,800), with additional PHP 300,000 fines per person who files a complaint against the firm on these charges.
Shopee had recently advertized a promotion that involved a meet-and-greet session with the K-pop band Blackpink. Under the promotion, the top 568 spenders on Shopee during a certain time period were promised a ticket to the fan-meet whereas the top 40 spenders would get autographs from the members of the group.
The controversy blew up when several fans were denied entry on the day of the event and as many as 116 spenders found themselves abruptly removed from the list of winners.
These resulted in allegations of Shopee “scamming” shoppers by changing the promotional guidelines and mechanics of the contest midway.
The hashtag “SHOPEESCAM” trended on Twitter, according to reports, and eventually caught the attention of the DTI. Authorities summoned Shopee’s Philippines’ representatives for questioning.
Shopee had issued a public apology after the outbreak of the controversy, stating that it is reaching out to the affected shoppers and is taking steps to ensure this incident does not occur again in the future.
It’s not the first time Shopee got into trouble for aligning its brand with Blackpink, a band that’s massively popular among Southeast Asian youth.
In Indonesia, where Shopee also ran an extensive campaign featuring the Blackpink singers, the e-commerce firm had to pull some of the ads because they were deemed too naughty and in violation of the country’s cultural norms.