The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has finally made an impact with its nationwide protests, as the consumer affairs ministry rolled out a set of draft rules to check the deep discounting practices of ecommerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart.
The new rules were announced on November 11 and are applicable immediately for all ecommerce marketplaces which work with third-party sellers.
The new Consumer Protection (e-Commerce) Rules, 2019 prohibit ecommerce platforms from “directly or indirectly” influencing the price of goods or services in order to maintain a level playing field.
Second, marketplaces are not allowed to indulge any trade practices with the purpose of “promoting the sale, use or supply of any goods or for the provision of any service, or composite supply.” Moreover, ecommerce companies are not allowed to represent themselves as consumers and write reviews about the product and services.
The draft policy has also listed out various “Dos” for the ecommerce platforms. For instance, ecommerce payers will now have to display the contract between the platform and the seller to let consumers make an informed decision. The contract should have details about returns, refunds, exchange offers, warranty plans, delivery, grievance redressal mechanisms and more.
Moreover, the ecommerce platform will have to now ensure that ads for products are in line with the features they provide. The marketplaces will also be responsible for mentioning the safety and healthcare information of goods and services advertised for sale.
Here are some more directives for ecommerce players from the ministry:
- Provide information about the mode of payments available, how to use them, the security procedure and cancelling regular payments
- Ensure that personally identifiable information of the customer is secured
- Accept return of requests, if the product was delivered late, defective or wrong
- Refund payments within 14 days of requests
- Take down sellers selling counterfeit products
Ecommerce player will be held guilty and secondary liable, if it has made an “assurance” vouching for the authenticity of a product, but it turns out to be a fake.
Moreover, each emarketplace will have to publish the name of the grievance officer and his contact details on the website. The ecommerce platforms should inform the customers about the complaint filing procedure.
This new policy comes after the traders body CAIT had been knocking on the door of every possible government department to raise their concerns regarding ecommerce platform, especially Amazon and Flipkart.
The body has raised issues like deep discounting, non-compliance with updated FDI policies and non-uniform contracts with the seller. The traders body has accused ecommerce players of creating an unlevel playing field between emarketplaces and brick-and-mortar stores.
CAIT had also reached out to commerce minister Piyush Goyal, who is now mediating the matter. In the recent development, the commerce minister was in talks with Amazon seeking suggestions on bringing small kirana stores on ecommerce.