E-Commerce Operations Brought Under Ambit of Consumer Protection Act, 2019

In a significant development government has now brought e-commerce operations under the ambit of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 empowering customers against unfair trade practices of e-tailers and putting in place a mechanism for grievance redressal.

The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 were notified on Thursday and it said that and e-commerce companies shall appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal.

“Every e-commerce entity shall establish an adequate grievance redressal mechanism having regard to the number of grievances ordinarily received by such entity from India, and shall appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal, and shall display the name, contact details, and designation of such officer on its platform,” it said.

It said that no e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise.

It also said that the e-commerce platforms would not charge cancellation fees from the customers, unless similar charges are also borne by the e-commerce entity, if they cancel the purchase order unilaterally for any reason.

“Snapdeal welcomes the Consumer Protection Rules for E-Commerce as notified today. These will enhance protection for online buyers in India. The new rules also clarify the distinct scope of responsibilities between the marketplace platform and the sellers on the marketplaces. This clarity in law making will help in effective enforcement of these laws and creating an ease of doing business environment for e-Commerce marketplaces while protecting the interests of consumers,” said a Snapdeal spokesperson.

The new rules would apply to all goods and services bought or sold over digital or electronic network including digital products, all models of e-commerce, including marketplace and inventory models of e-commerce.

It would also have under its ambit all e-commerce retail, including multi-channel single brand retailers and single brand retailers in single or multiple formats and all forms of unfair trade practices across all models of e-commerce.

The rules shall apply to any e-commerce entity which is not established in India, but systematically offers goods or services to consumers in India, the notification said.

It said that an e-commerce entity shall appoint a nodal person of contact or an alternate senior designated functionary who is resident in India, to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act or the rules made thereunder.

Every e-commerce entity shall provide the following information in a clear and accessible manner on its platform, displayed prominently to its users, namely: legal name of the e-commerce entity, principal geographic address of its headquarters and all branches.