NEW DELHI: Consumers facing problems from e-commerce firms will not have to wait much now for grievance redressal. To deal with the rising number of consumer complaints against e-commerce platforms, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has planned to open mediation centres in big cities.
According to government data, about 6,500 complaints are received on an average every month on the national consumer helpline, of which about 20 per cent are related with e-commerce companies.
A senior official of the ministry said the mediation centres will first be opened in big cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. More cities will be included in the list in coming months.
It has been seen that many consumers don’t follow the complaints properly due to lack of awareness. “These mediation centres will be meant for consumer rights protection. Officials sitting at the mediation centres will be authorised to talk to company representatives. It has also been noticed that in many cases, these companies try to escape from their responsibilities towards consumers,” the official said.
Officials working at the mediation centres will be trained in consumer laws and rules so that they can help consumers properly.
The government data indicates that with the expansion of e-commerce platforms, the complaints against these firms are also rising every year. In 2014-15, about 17,000 grievances were received while the number went up to 28,000 in 2015-16 and to 55,000 in 2016-17. Most of the complaints are about fake goods, wrong products, non-delivery of goods, non-payment of refunds, delay in providing services etc.
For resolution of grievances, the national consumer helpline has partnered with about 60 e-commerce companies under its programme called ‘Convergence Platform’. The complaints received are transferred to the companies concerned through the system for resolution.
In cases where the consumers are not satisfied with the resolution provided, they are advised to approach the Consumer Forum of appropriate jurisdiction.
The Department of Consumer Affairs had introduced the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, in the Lok Sabha in January. The Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of an agency which will prevent unfair trade practices.
DELIVERING THE GOODS
- Mediation centres to help consumers on complaints against e-commerce companies.
- Centres will be opened in big cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in the first phase.
- About 20% of the complaints received on national consumer helpline are related to e-commerce companies.
- On an average, about 6,500 complaints are received on a monthly basis.
- These complaints are about fake goods, wrong products, non-delivery or non-payment of refunds by companies, delay in or not providing services etc.