Vijay Pal Dalmia, Advocate
Supreme Court of India & Delhi High Court
Partner Vaish Associates
Mobile: +91 9810081079
Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur
Any e-commerce entity doing business in India or abroad, and likely to affect the rights of the consumers in India, need to check whether the new Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 (hereinafter "e-commerce rules") will apply to them and accordingly need to modify their existing policies to ensure compliance with attention to detail, for non-compliance shall result in relevant penal actions as per the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act, 2019 (hereinafter "CPA").
These e-commerce rules will ensure smooth enforcement of the CPA which got notified and enforced by the govt. on 20th July, 2020. These e-commerce rules have come into force. Below is a compliance checklist for such entities to give a head start.
- Check whether the e-commerce rules are applicable to your
- The e-commerce rules will apply to all e-commerce retail, including multi-channel single brand retailers and single brand retailers in single or multiple formats;
- all goods & services bought or sold over e-platform; and
- all models of e-commerce.
Exemption - Any natural person carrying out any activity in a personal capacity not being part of any professional or commercial activity undertaken on a regular basis is outside of the ambit of application of these rules.
- E-Commerce Entity
- If you are an e-commerce entity, make sure you appoint
- a nodal person or
- a senior designated official
who is resident in India to ensure that your entity complies with the provisions of CPA or e-commerce rules.
- Make sure you provide on your e-commerce platform
- the legal name your entity;
- principal geographic address of its headquarters and all branches;
- name and details of its website; and
- contact details, including mobile numbers of customer care and grievance officer to help your users make an informed decision.
- Make sure you put up a grievance redressal mechanism along with
- a grievance officer, and
- display the name,
- contact details, and
- designation of such officer on your e-commerce platform.
- a grievance officer, and
- You also need to ensure that the aforementioned grievance
- acknowledges the complaint of consumer within 48 hours and
- acts on the complaint with 1 month from the date of receipt of the complaint.
- In case you offer imported goods or services for sale, make
sure you provide
- the name and details of such importer or
- who may be a seller on your platform.
- Make sure you do not charge any cancellation fees from consumers cancelling after confirming purchase unless similar charges are borne by you, if you cancel the purchase order unilaterally for any reason - reciprocity should be maintained.
- Make sure you record only the explicit consent of the consumers
for the purpose of purchase of any goods or services offered on
- Remember, pre-ticked checkboxes do not confirm the consent of the consumer.
- Make sure of giving effect to the refund requests of the consumers within a reasonable time period as mandated by the RBI or prescribed under applicable laws.
- The manipulation of price is strictly prohibited. Make sure the goods or services which are being offered on your platform are priced reasonably.
- Marketplace E-Commerce Entity
- If you are a marketplace e-commerce entity, make sure you comply with the relevant sub-section(s) of Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
- In case of you being an intermediary, you need to comply with sub-sections (2) & (3) of Section 79.
- Make sure you ask for undertaking from sellers to ensure that the descriptions, images and other information pertaining to goods or services on your platform is strictly accurate.
- Make sure you provide details about the sellers, including the name of their business, whether registered or not, geographic address, customer care numbers, any rating, or feedback on your platform in a clear and accessible manner to help the consumers make informed decisions.
- Make sure you provide ticket number for each complaint for consumers to help track the status of their complaint, information pertaining to refund, return, exchange, warranty & guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, and any other information required by consumers to make informed decisions.
- Make sure you exhibit the nature of relationship with sellers in the terms & conditions displayed on your platform.
- Make sure you maintain a record of all the sellers, including those previously removed or restricted to offer goods or services on the platform to enable consumers to make informed decisions.
- Sellers on the Marketplace
- If you are a seller offering goods or services on e-commerce entities, shall strictly refrain from impersonating as a consumer to post reviews about goods or services, or misrepresenting the quality of the features of any goods or services.
- You cannot refuse to take back goods, or withdraw or discontinue services purchased or agreed to be purchased, or refuse to refund paid amount, if goods or services are defective, deficient or spurious, or do not conform to the advertised features, or agreed delivery schedule.
- As a seller, you need to have prior written contracts with the marketplace e- commerce entity through which you intend to sell your goods or services.
- Make sure you appoint a grievance officer for redressal of consumer's complaint and ensure that the officer acknowledges the complaint within 48 hours of the receipt of the complaint and acts upon it within 1 month from the date of receipt of the complaint. Make sure you also provide the contact details and designation of such grievance officer.
- Make sure that the advertisements of the goods or services offered are consistent with the actual characteristics of such goods or services.
- Make sure you provide your legal name, geographic address of headquarters and all branches, the name and details of website, contact details, including customer care number, and applicable GSTIN and PAN details to the marketplace e-commerce entity.
- You also need to disclose and display through the marketplace e-commerce entity all contractual information, total price of the goods or services along with breakup, postage & handling charges, conveyance charges, and applicable taxes.
- You need to disclose all the mandatory notices, relevant details about the goods or services, including country of origin and expiry date of the goods or services, accurate information related to terms of exchange, returns, and refunds, including cost of return shipping, and any relevant guarantees or warranties applicable on the goods or services.
- Inventory E-Commerce Entity
- As an inventory e-commerce entity, you also need to comply with the mandate given for sellers on marketplace e-commerce entity as discussed above.
© 2020, Vaish Associates Advocates,
All rights reserved
Advocates, 1st & 11th Floors, Mohan Dev Building 13, Tolstoy Marg New Delhi-110001 (India).
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist professional advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. The views expressed in this article are solely of the authors of this article.