NEW DELHI: E-commerce platforms selling consumer products will be held liable for unfair trade practices under the new Consumer Protection Bill. A senior official in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs said that the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, introduced in the Lok Sabha early this year entails provision which provide for establishment of an executive agency to be called the Central Consumer Protection Authority which will prevent unfair trade practices.
“All transactions for buying goods and services through online means, teleshopping or direct selling or multi-level marketing have also been included in the ambit of the proposed Consumer Protection Act,” added the official. According to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, the National Consumer Helpline receives as many as 7,000 complaints on unfair trade practices by e-commerce companies each month.
Apart from the counterfeit products, the complaints also relate to delay in or not providing services, no replacement or repair of defective products, charging for repair under warranty period, non-delivery of products, delivery of defective products, paid amount not refunded, delivery of wrong product, etc.
For resolving the grievances, the national helpline has partnered with about 60 e-commerce companies under its programme called “Convergence Platform”.Similarly, in an online survey by the LocalCircles, about one-third of the people polled said they have received fake products while buying through various e-commerce platforms. According to consumers, sellers list counterfeit products on these e-commerce sites at heavily discounted prices to gain the attention of customers.
In the race to advertise highest discounts, most e-Commerce sites only do basic checks on sellers and don’t really perform the detailed due diligence. Many e-commerce sites, in fact, offer cashback schemes and additional quantity and threshold discounts to lure the consumer to shop more and finally somewhere in this process the consumer ends up shopping for a product that us counterfeit.To know the consumer view on this issue, LocalCircles conducted a survey which received more than 30,000 votes and over 12,000 unique consumers from across India participated in the exercise.