Although the online retailing business in India has been growing by leaps and bounds, there are still a few issues to be sorted out within the ecommerce ecosystem to make it perfect. The government is also waking up to the new reality and addressing complaints as they arise.
The latest issue relates to the charge that these sites artificially ramp up the maximum retail price (MRP) and show as if the products are being sold at huge discounts. The other complaint is that in cases where the products have an expiry date for usage, the actual date of expiry is disclosed and the customers end up ordering such products looking at the low prices being offered and suffer in the process.
The government stepped in to curb this trend and passed an amendment to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, mandating the ecommerce firms to indicate the MRP and the expiry date along with the display of the product details. “An ecommerce entity shall ensure that the mandatory declarations as specified… shall be displayed on the digital and electronic network used for ecommerce transactions”, were the exact words of this order.
Having released this in June 2017, the ecommerce firms were given time till January 1 to comply.
Now, according to an Economic Times report, the top ecommerce ventures operating in India, including Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal have written to the government to give them more time to achieve full compliance. They have indicated that they are faced with a huge inventory, running into millions of products and they require more time to ensure that the changing of catalogues of such large quantities will require at least another six months.
From the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which is the nodal ministry for this, there are indications that the authorities may not agree to such a long period. It appears the officials have been told to keep an eye on the matter; ‘investigative survey’ is the term used, but not initiate any punitive action.
Paytm Mall is said to have complied with the order and informed the Ministry. Amazon has conveyed that it is working on the issue, while Flipkart and others are yet to make any public acknowledgement or statement.