The Consumer Protection Rules 2020 (new e-commerce rules 2020) will give better-defined legal power to consumers to go to court in case of disputes related to e-commerce. And platforms cannot charge cancellation fees if a consumer chooses to cancel an order after confirming the purchase. The new rules enhance protection for buyers. In other words, it strengthens consumer rights.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said recognition of online marketplaces as intermediaries helps absolve them of certain product liabilities, which rightly lies with sellers conducting their business on such platforms. “Sellers are now mandated to take responsibility for goods or services that are defective, deficient or spurious and cannot refuse to take back such goods,” the industry body said.
According to the new rules, marketplaces and sellers would be required to have grievance officers to respond in a time-bound manner. However, an industry executive said this would increase the burden on a small seller, thereby requiring investment in terms of costs and time.
E-commerce sellers will have to display the total price of goods and services offered for sale along with the break-up of other charges. They also have to mention the expiry date of the goods provided for sale and the country of origin. As per the new rules, these are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage. The sellers also have to display details about return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment and grievance redressal mechanism to help consumers make informed decisions.
IAMAI said the new rules do justice to the concerns of online marketplaces about the earlier liabilities for counterfeit products, which now rightly lie with the sellers conducting business on these platforms. “Platforms now are mandated to make reasonable efforts to maintain a record of relevant information that allows identifying sellers who are repeat offenders for offering spurious goods,” it said. Furthermore, the new rules do not permit e-tailers to falsely represent itself as a consumer and post reviews about goods and services or misrepresent the quality or features of any goods and services.
The new rules were finalised with inputs from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the aegis of the commerce ministry.