Online shopping complaints to be heard by e-commerce regulators

Consumer Protection Bill to bring in accountability and transparency from e-commerce operators

Online shopping complaints to be heard by e-commerce regulators

Consumers have been plagued with various issues due to the unregulated nature of the e-commerce marketplace, but all of that is about to change. The Consumer Protection Bill of 2019 was tabled in the Parliament on August 6, through which a regulator can keep a watchful eye on e-commerce corporations.

What does this mean?

A regulatory platform called the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) is to be established that will safeguard the rights of customers making purchases both online and offline, and additionally have the power to initiate class motion against businesses that includes enforcing recalls, refunds and returns. 

Many e-commerce companies have been found to influence pricing, scrupulously promote merchandise and or misrepresent the standard of goods and services sold through their platform.

The new Consumer Protection Bill that replaces the 1986 Act is predicted to fill an “institutional void” in India’s regulatory regime, in a rejoinder to the bill. Through this Bill, the CCPA will have unilateral authority, allowing it to scrutinise business practices while proposing guidelines to protect the interest of online consumers. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs released a draft of the said guidelines on August 6.

What can be expected?

The CCPA will be able to provide guidance, enforce compliance and adherence to a structured framework that will apply to all digital businesses. E-commerce operators who have had been perceived to have a free hand till now will have to design a customer-first approach. 

Businesses will not be able to influence pricing anymore. They will have to mandatorily disclose seller credentials on their website and apps, which they have ignored so far despite it being a prerequisite under FDI rules for the business sector. 

E-commerce operators will be forced to crack down on counterfeit products which presently drive a considerable pie of sales for online marketplaces. 

What does the survey say?

According to a survey put out by LocalCircles, a community platform, it was estimated that 90% of the respondents wanted a speedy resolution of complaints within a specified timeline. The other concerns revolved around counterfeit products, lack of seller credentials and influenced review and ratings for products.

These inputs have been considered while drafting guidelines for e-commerce operators and safeguarding consumer interest. In the long run, the Bill is expected to bring in greater transparency, trust and drive growth for the business segment. 

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