The draft e-commerce guidelines for consumer protection 2019 is open for stakeholder comments for 45 days till September 16, 2019.

Government unveils draft e-commerce guidelines invites comments from industry
Atom E-commerce Tuesday, August 06, 2019 - 19:04
Written by  S. Mahadevan

After months of waiting, the government is at last ready with the draft norms for the e-commerce business being carried on in the country. The Department of Consumer Affairs has since placed the draft e-commerce norms in public domain for the stakeholders to study and revert with their views within 45 days.

The ministry has titled the document ‘e-commerce guidelines for consumer protection 2019’. There is a reference to data protection and where the e-commerce firms collect information of their customers, the personally identifiable information needs to be protected.

Some of the highlights of the policy include a provision, which says an e-commerce entity cannot directly or indirectly influence the prices of the goods or services being sold on their platforms.

“These are issued as guiding principles for e-commerce business for preventing fraud, unfair trade practices and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. These guidelines apply to business-to-consumer e-commerce, including goods and services...”

Among other provisions, there’s a requirement that the e-commerce entity must publish the details of the nodal person to resolve the grievances of customers if any. There must be clarity on how the complaints are to be registered and how it will be resolved.

Another practice found prevalent in some e-commerce platforms is where reviews are posted by the operators themselves. The draft norms on e-commerce says there will be no false representation on the products or services to the consumers.

Once the norms are issued for implementation, it will become mandatory for firms to display terms of contract with the sellers relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty/guarantee, delivery/shipment, mode of payments and grievance redressal mechanism. These are meant to enable consumers to make informed decisions. The draft also makes a provision to tackle complaints of counterfeit products, and if the seller is unable to provide any evidence that the product is genuine, the firm needs to take down the listing and notify the consumers of the same.

The draft is open till September 16 for comments to be made.

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