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The Straits Times
May 7, 2023
When Ms X.Y. Wu tuned in to a live stream on Facebook in February, an Italian leather bag caught her eye. She subsequently placed an order for the $749 item after a promoter said the bag would be delivered in about a month.
Three months on, the Buti Pelletterie bag she had ordered from live-streaming e-commerce firm Mdada has yet to arrive. Her query on the status of the delivery has gone unanswered, she said.
“I ordered from existing stock, as opposed to getting it made-to-order, so I could get the bag more quickly,” the 53-year-old housewife told The Straits Times. “It’s disappointing as I was expecting it to arrive by March, but it’s already May.”
Besides the Buti Pelletterie bag, she had also ordered another bag on Jan 20. When the $399 Pratesi Firenze bag arrived last week, its quality was disappointing, Ms Wu said.
“The bag looks old and dirty, as though it had been left on the shelf for a long time,” she said after sending ST videos that appeared to show faint grey splotches on the bag’s white leather surface. “It’s quite sad... The quality of what I received is really subpar.”
Ms Wu is among several customers who have lodged complaints against Mdada with the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case).
The consumer watchdog said it received 44 complaints against the company between Jan 1, 2022, and April 30, 2023.
Case added that the complaints involved customers not receiving orders within the committed delivery period, incomplete deliveries, delay in receiving refunds, and defective or incorrect products.
In response to queries from ST, Case said it has urged e-marketplaces like Mdada to adopt its Standard Dispute Management Framework for e-marketplaces, which would “give consumers greater assurance when shopping via their online platforms”.
The framework, which it says can help consumer disputes “be resolved equitably and efficiently”, covers various aspects of dispute resolution pertaining to clarity and accessibility of information, timelines for complaints to be processed, and mechanisms to protect consumers’ monies.
Mdada, founded in September 2020, is a Singapore-based company that uses Facebook’s live stream to sell products ranging from skincare to luxury bags.
It made headlines a year after its founding for drawing in $3.9 million in sales in two months, in part due to its star-studded list of co-founders – local actress Michelle Chia, Thai-Chinese actor-host Pornsak Prajakwit and local celebrity hairstylist Addy Lee.
In a Telegram chat group devoted to addressing Mdada customer queries, some customers said their orders had been delayed by several months, while others complained about the quality of the products they received.
In an e-mail response, Ms Chia acknowledged the customer complaints and said the company aims to resolve all outstanding orders, including refunds, by June.
Attributing most of the late deliveries to supply-chain issues, she said: “As manufacturers and suppliers are regaining pre-pandemic operational capacities, the huge volume of orders Mdada received has resulted in slower fulfilment.
“Delays were also caused by shipment clearance from both local and foreign Customs authorities.”
To help fulfil orders more quickly, Ms Chia said Mdada is working closely with “partners from various countries on the line-side delivery”.
This is not the first time Mdada has received flak for late deliveries. In December 2021, Mr Pornsak apologised after Shin Min Daily News ran a report on two customers who had not received their orders after waiting for over two months.
On Jan 1, 2023, he announced his departure from the company, telling AsiaOne in an interview that he was leaving due to differences in “corporate governance”.
That prompted Mdada to issue a statement refuting suggestions that it was lacking in corporate governance. In its Jan 6 statement, it admitted that it had faced challenges in delivering goods sold on its platform, noting that delays and cancellations had happened from time to time due to “extrinsic factors outside Mdada’s control”.
On April 1, Mr Lee, citing ill health, said on social media that he had left Mdada on March 17. Ms Chia, however, told ST that Mr Lee had taken leave of absence and that the company is looking forward to welcoming him back soon.