Consumer Protection and Electronic
Commerce in Jordan
(An exploratory Study )

Prepared by :
Dr. Mohammad Obeidat
President of the National Society for Consumer Protection
15- January &endash; 2001



1- Introduction:

The continuous and tremendous development in modern telecommunication has led to the emergence of what is called today the "Electronic commerce" (E-commerce). On the marketing level, the E-commerce, in its various forms, has become the most important tool for selling and efficient promotion for goods that are offered for trading to users or consumers in all companies around the world.Practically, the spread of this modern marketing should lead to great changes in the behavioral patterns of both sellers and buyers. Moreover, the wage of this trade (fax, internet, etc) was not associated with equivalent and convenient change in commercial, legislative and administrative arrangements that are targeted at protecting the rights of the one who receives this service , who is the user ? Who is the vendor? In this regard , the consumer's rights mean his / her right to get secure and safe services, get enough and accurate details of goods and services specifications and his/ her right to receive quick and just compensation in case of damage, harm or fraud . The fact of the matter is that such rights are not met in absence of clear and balanced legislations that are necessary for the two sides of trade exchange.

2- The Objective of Study:
This study aims at exploring the existence of Jordanian legislations to protect the rights of the second party who is considered the weakest side in the trade exchange process. Also, this study seeks to suggest some ideas that help in the spread of E- commerce tools, in a way that protects the rights of both vendors and buyers or users as well.

3- The situation of E-commerce in Jordan:
It is known that the Jordanian economy has witnessed some radical changes since the 1995 where Jordanian economy has shifted from the form of guided or protected economy to the market economy, where the competition practices and the liberation of goods and services' prices are freed . After such changes and in the light of the Jordanian&endash; European Partnership Agreement, the membership in the world trade Organization (WTO) and the signing of the free trade agreement with the United States, the Jordanian economic environment has become ready to welcome such kind of trade ( E-commerce ) and its economy is open to receive all investments proposals. The fact of matter is that such agreement has encouraged Jordanian companies and establishments to promote their national goods and services in all available global markets. Actually , some Jordanian companies had achieved some success in this field and they can succeed more and more if they can carryout some empirical studies on users features in the market place . Also these companies should use all available technology and advanced administrative methods that could help in producing goods and services of highly competitive qualities either in price or quality. Concerning this point, some Jordanian companies have actually achieved remarkable success in entering some international markets by exploring all tools of this commerce in order to expand its current markets of locally produced goods and services . On the practical level , the rate of Internet users in Jordan is less than one in thousand as compared with expected users of such services . The number of users in Jordan doesn't exceed 20,000 subscribers in Internet , despite the clear advantages of E-commerce , such as the reduction of offered fees for the biggest number of mediators as compared with the traditional way of trade . This is added to the rise in the profits margin which may be occurred to the companies using tools of E-commerce

4- Difficulties facing the growth of E-commerce in Jordan :
There are many difficulties that hinder the spread of E- commerce in Jordan , they are as follows :
- Absence of legislations and proper regulations that govern this technological tool in commerce .The fact of the matter is that we do not have yet any local legislation regulating e-commerce. Indeed, the introducing of the first E-commerce law in Jordan may help in regulating the operations of selling and buying in a way that protects the rights of both parties.
- The reduction in the spread of Internet and personal computer devices and the mobile cellular telephone sets ( because of their high prices ) was negatively reflected on the amount of knowledge existed among potential users inspire of the great and clear benefits of E-commerce in our modern life and practices .
- The inconvenience and complexity of customers procedures and the slow measures of clearance on shipped goods.
- Also, it Is important to say that the most major tasks of modern marketing using this advanced technology is to send the goods being bought from the place of their production and promoting them to their users at suitable time and using the proper means .
- The weakness of concerned companies to promote E-commerce tools effectively. Maybe the reason of this weakness could be attributed to the insufficient promotional abilities of people working in this kind of industry . In addition, the marketing people may lack the abilities to design the most effective promotional strategies to achieve the required changes in user's attitudes , especially those potential users who didn't use such tools or means of E-commerce before .
- The fact of matter is that the authorities concerned in this kind of trade do not have full accurate data about user's demographics and attitudes regarding its tools . Accordingly, we think that most of companies seeking ways to promote tools of E-commerce lack the accurate and enough data about their current and poetical users .
- The low purchasing powers of the majority of potenical users has weakened the interest of medium-income people to use E-commerce tools in their daily dealings .
- Majority of the potenical users of this kind of commerce feel that their rights of privacy and transparency are not protected in the absence of balanced regulations for E- commerce.

Consumers see that this trade exposes them to cheating and frauds from some vendors of products or services who may use these tools, by giving them incorrect information's about the cargo or services offered for sale using modern E-commerce tools. Such practices are targeted at misleading the users or consumers and convincing them to buy the goods or use services that don't meet the required specifications , from their point of view , especially in absence of modernized law to protect consumer's rights and organize the proper relations between the users or consumers and other sides involved in the trade process such as producers , manufacturers , mediators or marketers .

There are some Recommendations that could help speed up the spread of E-commerce tools , they are as follows :
- Enhancing E-commerce requires to introduce it extensively with proper prices for public and private institutions and corporations . In this regard, the patronage given by His Majesty King Abdulla to use computer and Internet services from the beginning of the first school year in Jordan and other Jordanian institutions and universities , is very good example about its importance to the Jordanian society . This proves that such technology is a highly important means of knowledge and dealings . Moreover, it opens new horizons for positive communications among individuals and establishments in the Jordanian society and promote Jordan all over the world , aiming to enhance our local economies .
- It is imperative to gradually introduce electronic systems in the process of selling and buying at shops and groceries according to practical plans and bearing in mind the supply of all necessary human and financial resources.
- Encouraging merchants to set up modernized financial systems that take into consideration the proper usage of E-commerce tools in real life.
- It is also essential to let these merchants know the importance of simplifying procedures linked to payment and signatures and impose tough punishments on violators .
-Initiating a field and empirical studies which are targeted at identifying the actual demographics and attitudes of both current and possible users of such tools. It is important to estimate the annual expected volume of demand on E-commerce tools, in order to put forward all proposals or plans to face or overcome some difficulties that hinder the spread of this commerce which is the aim of this study .
- Setting up all possible strategies for effective implementation of stated objectives of E-commerce technology in Jordan .