The Government has notified new policies for e-commerce firms, including an obligatory show of ‘country of origin’ on their goods, and stated any non-compliance would attract penal action.
The ‘Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020‘ were notified on Thursday. The new rules will apply to all digital retailers (e-tailers) registered in India or overseas but presenting items and services to Indian consumers. The violation of the guidelines will entice penal action beneath the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. According to the new rules, the e-commerce players will have to show the whole price of items and offerings provided for sale along with a break-up of different charges.
They are also required to mention the ‘expiry date’ of goods presented for sale and the ‘country of origin’ of goods and offerings that are fundamental for enabling the customer to make an informed selection at the pre-purchase stage. Under the rules, e-commerce players have to show small print about return, refund, exchange, assurance and guarantee, transport and shipment, and any other information that can also be required by customers to make knowledgeable decisions.
Sellers supplying items and services via a marketplace e-commerce entity will have to provide the above important points to the e-commerce entity to be displayed on its platform or website.
Under the new rules, e-commerce entities no longer impose “cancellation charges” on shoppers canceling orders after confirmation unless sellers are prepared to pay similar prices in case the cancellation of orders are from their side. They are also not allowed to “manipulate the price” of the items and services presented on their platforms to achieve unreasonable profit and discriminate between customers of the equal class or make any arbitrary classification of consumers affecting their rights under the Act.
Further, e-commerce entities will have to grant statistics on reachable payment methods, the security of these charge methods, any charges or costs payable through users, and the contact information, among different details, of the applicable charge provider.
That apart, e-commerce entities are required to display prominently to its users small print about the ‘sellers’ providing items and services, consisting of the title of their business, whether registered or not.
They must additionally show sellers’ geographic address, client care number, and any ranking or different aggregated comments about such seller, amongst others, as per the new rules.
They are additionally required to grant a ticket wide variety for every criticism lodged, via which the purchaser can track the repute of the complaint.
However, the new guidelines do not permit any inventory e-commerce entity to “falsely signify itself as a customer and publish critiques about items and offerings or misrepresent the quality of the aspects of any items and services”.
The inventory e-commerce entities will additionally have to make certain that the advertisements for advertising of goods and offerings are constant with the proper characteristics, get entry to and utilization stipulations of such items or services.
Under the new rules, no inventory e-commerce entity will be allowed to refuse to take back items or withdraw or discontinue offerings bought or agreed to be purchased, among others, subject to several conditions.
On July 20, Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan had said regulations have been finalized after taking inputs from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, underneath the aegis of the commerce ministry, so that they do no longer contravene with the usual with the general e-commerce policy.