■ “I purchased a shirt but I had to return it because I did not get the right piece. Now, I have not got my money back. Please help me.”
■ “I ordered a fairness cream. But, the product I received was of poor quality and appeared to have been used earlier. Kindly, get this issue solved.”
These are just some of the over 6,500 complaints that the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) gets each month regarding e-commerce retailers. An analysis of the complaints received by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ helpline revealed that gripes against e-commerce firms are rising every year. While about 17, 000 grievances were received in 2014-15, it went up to 28,000 in 2015-16 and to 55,000 in 2016-17.
According to trade reports, e-commerce retail in India has registered a massive growth with increasing penetration of the internet. Retail e-commerce sales in the country in 2016 was $16,073 billion which increased to $20,059 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $25,076 billion in the current year.
While the year-on-year growth is a healthy 25 per cent, burgeoning online trade has resulted in a rise in complaints about fake goods, wrong products, non-delivery and non-payment of refunds by companies.
Recently, US lifestyle and footwear brand Skechers filed cases against a top e-commerce site and four sellers for selling counterfeit products in its name.
A ministry official said about 22 per cent of the complaints are about refunds being held back. “Many times the purchase amount for orders booked by consumers is deducted by the company, but the goods are not delivered,” he said.
Many e-commerce companies do not give the complete grievance redressal mechanism on their websites and consumers face difficulties,” added the official.
In 2016-17, about 4,500 calls were received per month, but the figures for November 2017 reveal that the number has crossed the 6,500 mark.
The maximum complaints were in Maharashtra (4,932) forming 14.31 per cent of the total complaints. Among the top five states are Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal, that registered 13.31 per cent to 6.88 per cent of total calls in November.