Responding to a petition seeking mandatory declaration of the country of origin on products offered for sale on e-commerce websites, Amazon and Snapdeal told the Delhi high court on Wednesday (September 2) that they are only ‘marketplace-based’ ecommerce platforms or intermediaries and the responsibility of such disclosure lies with the manufacturer or seller and not them.
While Amazon said that it has made such a declaration mandatory, Snapdeal has informed the court that it has not made it mandatory as the declaration is required for only imported products.
The government has set September 30 as deadline for ecommerce companies to complete assigning country of origin tags to both new and existing items on their platforms.
In August, industry associations had sought another 6-7 months extension from the government to comply with the new consumer protection rules. The mandatory listing of ‘country of origin’ for products listed on ecommerce websites is one of the main rules to be followed. Other key provisions include the appointment of grievance offers and resolution of consumer complaints within one month of receiving the complaint, among other such provisions.
The Consumer Protection (Ecommerce) Rules, 2020, were notified on July 23 and came into effect immediately. The Rules are applicable to all goods and services, bought or sold over digital or electronic networks, including digital products. As such, even companies providing internet services such as online ticketing and hotel booking, are defined as ecommerce entities and subject to the new rules.
Initially, the government was keen to make it mandatory to display ‘country of origin’ of products sold on ecommerce platforms starting August 1, but online retailers have pushed back saying the deadline may not be feasible.
Reportedly, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICC) wrote to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs earlier in August, asking for six to seven months time for complying with the new rules.
“Some of these requirements will put undue stress on MSME sellers who already have their backs up against the wall due to excessive compliances that come with selling online,” a senior executive at an e-commerce firm told Economic Times.
The new rules also apply to overseas-based ecommerce entities supplying goods and services to Indian customers.
The CPA mandates every ecommerce entity to provide information relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment and grievance redressal mechanism, among other things to enable the consumer to make an informed decision. Further, the Act also calls upon ecommerce entities to provide ‘country of origin’ information for all products. The ‘country of origin’ clause has attracted a lot of attention in the wake of anti-China sentiment in the country and the resultant call to reduce dependency on imports.