eCommerce Guidelines: Inputs Sought

Thousands of posts and comments have been received on ecommerce in our circles in the past few months. We are pleased to share with you that basis the inputs given to us in several posts and discussions and surveys, attached are the ecommerce guidelines issued by us earlier this month. You are invited to share additional inputs you may have on the guidelines. Via these guidelines we have taken an attempt to make rules for areas that pertain to the consumer. There may be other issues that you may have identified and relate to other ministries and departments and they would have not been included in the guidelines.

Below are inputs (Issues, Root Causes, Solutions) identified by you in the past related to the eCommerce sector for easy reference.

eCommerce in India - Issues, Root Causes, Solutions

Issues Identified:
1.Product description on the retailer website is not detailed and accurate
2.The product pictures on the site sometime do not give the true description of the product
3.Inferior quality goods are supplied
4.Delivery dates are not honoured
5.The after sales service from some of the websites is bad
6.Replacement on the products delivered for damage or non -working is also very cumbersome and may never happen
7.A complete complaint redressal system is missing on most of the ecommerce sites
8.The deals offered on website many times mislead the customers
9.Products are not delivered on time
10.Refunds take a long time
11.Many electronic products do not carry any warranty
12.Fly-by-night operators have also been prevalent in the market
13.E-commerce sites show one rate in print ads, but going to the websites show another rate
14.Some products are sold using fake company IDs
15.No service centres to meet face to face
A large number of fake products are sold and checks/balances are limited
17.Sellers don’t pay full taxes to the Government
18.Many ecommerce sites sell counterfeits by design
20. Some ecommerce sites have many of their group companies as sellers controlling 80% volumes.

Root Causes Identified:
1.There is always a difference between seeing a product physically and seeing pictures of it
2.Competition is high and all the companies want to beat each other
3.Many ecommerce sites are selling goods at below cost and burning investor capital to raise more investor capital by showing revenues
4.Sellers feel that putting in all the details might hamper the sale of the product
5.Inferior quality goods are also sold at higher prices to make more profits
6.Ecommerce site accept more orders than their logistics can handle
7.The primary objective of some ecommerce site is sales and they ignore the customer after that
8.A lot of sites out rightly deny that the product could have been delivered defective
9.The delivery mechanism is not up to date
10.Cheap Chinese electronic goods are sold which look good but are of bad quality
11.Companies try to lure the customers on their sites by showing incorrect lower prices on their sites
12.Ecommerce companies do not work on the ‘store’ concept to minimise the fixed cost of operations
13.Not all e-commerce sites follow internationally accepted norms of delivery and service
14.No process of tracking the fly by night operators or fake sites
15.No common consumer grievance site to put across complains
16.No specific regulatory agencies to govern these sites
17.Lack of public awareness about whom to approach for justice
18.Lack of initiative from Government to protect citizen’s money
19.No strict enforcement of rules by the government encourages errant e-commerce sites
20.There is no proper consumer protection act against these E-Commerce companies
21.Consumers also do not always raise their grievances as they should

Solutions Identified:
1.A monitoring agency should be set up to overlook the working of the e-commerce industry
2.Country should have an ecommerce regulator
3.Rules and regulations should be strictly enforced by the regulators
4.Consumers should be empowered to report misdeeds of E-Commerce companies to authorities on fingertips
5.The return/replacement process should be simplified
6.A proper complaint redressal system should be developed
7.There should be heavy penalty on misleading ads
8.Hiding any product details should be made un-lawful and should lead to a process where the company could be banned
9.Delivery commitments should be strictly adhered to, failing which customer should be compensated monetarily
10.Refunds should be system generated and instant
11.No warranty on products should be mention in big bold letters in product description
12.Fake sites should be identified and banned
13.Strengthen existing laws to check fly-by-night operators
14.The supply chain and logistics should be strengthened
15.A robust mechanism to check the authenticity of the products and prices including the discounts should be in place
16.Awareness program needs to be carried rigorously by the government making ordinary citizens aware of their rights
17.The law relating to Consumer Affairs should appear in e-commerce site in simple and understandable language
18.There should be a watch dog to whom delivery of non-functional products should be reported.
19. There should be much more disclosure of seller information.
20. There should be clear seller undertakings and penalties for sellers if selling counterfeit.
21.There should be a portable independent system for reviews and ratings.
22. There should be laws against listing hazardous goods like explosives, drugs, etc. more  

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View all 52 comments Below 52 comments
E-Commerce facilitators should be classified as of three types - 1. Those take commission and help selling. 2. Govt's e-commerce site for MSME or agriculture products or Gold 3. The e-commerce sites of companies themselves (they should not be charges that extra as (IF) they are paying GST and selling).

Similar analogy can be drawn with Tour operators, Vehicle providers to Tour operators, Taxi owners, UBER and OLA more  
How to assure about the quality and services that are committed in the Advertisement on E- Commerce. In case of Dispute regarding these how to Solve in case of Indian Companies and Foreign Companies.How to Reimburse the amount. If the Company fails to deliver the Product in Time in case of Advance Payment/Payment made at Booking the Order. more  
E-commerce platforms are nothing traders who coordinate with the manufacturers and the end users. Supplies are stocked at e-commerce central hub and despatched or directly sent from the manufaturers. In few cases, when it is directly despatched, in case of returns, e-commerce wash its hands in case of dissatisfaction of the customers. In short, e-commerce is accountable for the eintire process and needs to be addressed by them to resolve the issues raised at every level. more  
How and why aggregator or an e-commerce facilitator is different from a re-seller who gets commission from the Dealer or manufacturers? In the US - each e-commerce facilitator company pays Tax to the Govt like a reseller. more  
There can be ratings for the e-commerce site, based on the grievance redressal performance also, in addition to the present feedback rating on purchase of product..applicable to both the seller and e-com entity..higher the ratings, higher the confidence of consumer abt grievance redressal more  
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