In today’s market, ignorance is no longer bliss as consumers want to know everything. In fact, transparency has become a legal mandate.
- The government scrutiny on e-commerce marketplaces is set to get tighter as it aims to enhance the transparency between the marketplaces and sellers, and to strengthen consumer rights in online shopping with the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019. The e-commerce consumer protection guidelines issued recently by government will soon be a part of CPB
- Under the bill Central Consumer Protection Authority of India (CCPA) is created to ensure that e-commerce companies neither influence prices nor build safeguards against counterfeits.
- The CCPA is empowered to take suo moto action and file class-action suits if consumers are impacted by a faulty or fake product.
- The bill covers all e-commerce entities selling products and services to consumers such as –
- E-commerce inventory-based sellers
- All service providers selling online services
- Any social commerce conducted via social networking platforms
- The guidelines formulated for this purpose include conditions mandating e-commerce firms to –
- Accept returns if the products delivered are defective, wrong, spurious or if they do not have the characteristics or features advertised.
- They will have to display all the relevant details about the sellers on their website.
- They need to clarify the nature of seller’s business entity.
- The draft guidelines also propose –
- Transparency in contracts signed between e-commerce entities and the sellers, by displaying terms of their contracts.
- Transparency on the procedure followed to address complaints and setting up time limit to resolve them.
- No adoption of any trade practices for the purpose of promoting the sale or use of unfair practices that may influence the consumer’s decisions.
- To restrict sellers from falsely representing themselves as consumers and posting reviews or misrepresenting and exaggerating the quality and features of products on their sites.
The king of the market has now become more powerful thus businesses need to be more careful regarding what they advertise and market as the level of transparency has assumed gigantic proportions.