In a move to protect customers from being cheated on the e-commerce platforms, the government asked the e-commerce firms to ensure that their grievance officers acknowledge any consumer complaint within 48 hours and redresses it within one month. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution notified a new set of consumer protection e-commerce rules under which, it also restricted the e-commerce firms from imposing cancellation charges on consumers who cancel the purchased products or services unless similar charges are also borne by the e-commerce firm. The government further highlighted that it will be mandatory to show the country of origin so that the customers can make an informed decision during the pre-purchase stage.
The government also directed the e-commerce companies to provide clear information related to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, and any other similar information which may be required by consumers to make informed decisions. In addition, the customer care number of the seller will also be mandatory.
Duties of e-commerce sellers
While listing out the duties of the sellers on the marketplace, the gazette notification underlined that no seller shall adopt any unfair trade practice and falsely represent itself as a consumer who posts reviews about goods or services and misrepresent the quality or the features. It also said that the no seller shall refuse to take back goods, discontinue services, or refuse to refund, if such goods or services are defective, deficient or if the same is not of the characteristics as advertised or as agreed to. The customer can also refuse to accept goods and services if they are not delivered on time.
The sellers will now also have to show the total price of any good or service in a single figure, along with its breakup price including charges such as delivery charges, postage and handling charges, conveyance charges, etc. Meanwhile, the government said that in the exercise of the powers conferred by sub-clause (zg) of sub-section (1) of section 101 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, it has made the changes in consumer protection rules mentioned above.