July 26 2020: The Indian government has notified new e-commerce rules while updating consumer protection legislation, with the aim of making online retailers more accountable to customers.
Among new requirements under the “Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020” ( PDF here)
E-tailers are required display details about return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, and grievance redressal mechanism as well as the ‘country of origin’. They are also not allowed to “manipulate the price" of goods and services offered on their platforms to make “unreasonable profit"…. a reaction to significant discounts that customers have been enjoying by e-shopping rather than going to physical stores.
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.
The new rules are widely seen as part the government's desire to rein in the galloping growth of online shopping sites ( more so during these Covid lockdown months) to the detriment of one of oits key constituents -- he vast and often unorganised retail sector of small merchants and kirana ( grocery) stores.
The proviso regarding country of origin is likely, a way to inform customers who may wish to boycott China origin goods... a move consistent with the government's recent ban on 59 China-orgin social media and other apps. (our story here)
(Interestingly the portal of the Consumer Affairs ministry carries the full text of the gazette notified rules, dated July 23 in Hindi only. We had to look to a private site of a law firm to bring you the English text which is appended at the end of the Hindi version)