In light of the recent draft Consumer Protection (ecommerce) Rules 2019, there were a total of 1955 consumer grievances filed with National Consumer Helpline about online food ordering and delivery services by Zomato, Swiggy and others between April 2019 to January 2020.
Danve Raosaheb Dadarao, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution told the Rajya Sabha that with the rise in popularity of online food ordering and delivery services in the last three years, the number of consumer grievances has skyrocketed. In FY19, for example, the consumer grievances recorded were 1053, whereas this year, the number of complaints is already nearly double that.
The minister further said that some instances of sub-standard food being delivered through online food delivery service platforms have come to FSSAI’s notice. “Whenever any instance of sale and supply of substandard food items through such platforms is received, the same is taken up with the concerned commissioner of food safety of States/UTs,” he added.
Dadarao confirmed that the officials of food safety departments are also regularly monitoring and inspecting random food samples to check compliance of the standards laid down under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Under the Consumer Protection (ecommerce) Rules 2019, the government aims to prevent fraud, unfair trade practices and protect the rights and interests of consumers.
The new rules state that ecommerce platforms will have to provide the contact details of grievance officers and inform the customers about the complaints filing mechanism. In addition, ecommerce companies will also have to upload the contract with the sellers on the website to make users aware of the details about returns, refunds, exchange offers, warranty plans, delivery, grievance redressal mechanisms and more.
Other directions are aimed at curbing deep discounting, influencing the market price and selling counterfeit products. The rules also said that ecommerce entities will not be allowed to influence the prices of products sold on their websites directly or indirectly. The guidelines also put the onus on marketplaces to do their own due diligence when customers complain about receiving counterfeit products, and when they may need to take down such listings.
The Consumer Protection Bill 2019, passed recently in the parliament, seeks to establish CCPA and also envisages a simplified dispute resolution process, deals with ”product liability” and provides for stiff punishment to check misleading ads and adulteration.