The government has notified new rules for e-commerce companies, including mandatory display of 'country of origin' on their products, and said any non-compliance will attract penal action.
The 'Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020' were notified on Thursday. The new rules will be applicable to all electronic retailers (e-tailers) registered in India or abroad but offering goods and services to Indian consumers.
The violation of the rules will attract penal action under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
According to the new rules, the e-commerce players will have to display the total price of goods and services offered for sale along with a break-up of other charges.
They are also required to mention the 'expiry date' of goods offered for sale and the 'country of origin' of goods and services that are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage.
Under the rules, e-commerce players have to display details about return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, and any other information that may be required by consumers to make informed decisions.
Sellers offering goods and services through a marketplace e-commerce entity will have to provide the above details to the e-commerce entity to be displayed on its platform or website.
Under the new rules, e-commerce entities should not impose "cancellation charges" on consumers cancelling orders after confirmation unless sellers are ready to pay similar charges in case cancellation of orders are from their side.
They are also not allowed to "manipulate the price" of the goods and services offered on their platforms to gain unreasonable profit and discriminate between consumers of the same class or make any arbitrary classification of consumers affecting their rights under the Act.
Further, e-commerce entities will have to provide information on available payment methods, the security of those payment methods, any fees or charges payable by users, and the contact information, among other details, of the relevant payment service provider.
That apart, e-commerce entities are required to display prominently to its users details about the 'sellers' offering goods and services, including the name of their business, whether registered or not. They must also display sellers' geographic address, customer care number, and any rating or other aggregated feedback about such seller, among others, as per the new rules.
They are also required to provide a ticket number for each complaint lodged, through which the consumer can track the status of the complaint.
However, the new rules do not permit any inventory e-commerce entity to "falsely represent itself as a consumer and post reviews about goods and services or misrepresent the quality or the features of any goods and services".
The inventory e-commerce entities will also have to ensure that the advertisements for marketing of goods and services are consistent with the actual characteristics, access and usage conditions of such goods or services.
Under the new rules, no inventory e-commerce entity will be allowed to refuse to take back goods or withdraw or discontinue services purchased or agreed to be purchased, among others, subject to various conditions.
On July 20, Consumer Affairs Secretary Leena Nandan had said rules have been finalised after taking inputs from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, under the aegis of the commerce ministry, so that they do not contravene with the overall e-commerce policy.