Consumer rights

India asks Amazon to explain surge in consumer complaints

In a bid to ensure consumer rights are protected and customers are not defrauded by selling counterfeit products online, the government has once again stepped in, noting an increase in complaints.

According to senior sources, the consumer ministry has again shut down Amazon India and asked the online e-commerce giant to “improve customer services, including handling complaints” and “sell genuine products.”

“On May 4, the Department of Consumer Affairs, in a virtual meeting, convened top brass at Amazon, issuing a strict warning to improve customer services and the grievance mechanism,” the officials said. sources.

the The ministry, which is the nodal government department that administers consumer protection rights in the country, has also warned e-commerce operators in the past, asking them to improve the consumer complaint redress mechanism in the country.

Senior officials said that “Amazon India has been under strict orders to return with an updated Consumer Services Status by the end of the month.”

“The Ministry of Consumer Affairs used to register 5-6% of consumer complaints against e-commerce players in 2016-17 (of total complaints), the number rose to 40% during fiscal year 2022 – here the majority of complaints relate to Amazon, and this data was shared with the e-commerce company, based on which the department gave them a verbal warning,” the sources added.

However, it should be noted that Amazon and Flipkart are undisputed leaders in the field of e-commerce and therefore the proportion of complaints should be higher. Also, the e-commerce space particularly has seen a boom in the past 2-3 years, which may have led to an increase in complaints.

According to them, the ministry will also soon meet with other e-commerce players such as Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra, Tata CLiQ, to ensure that consumer protection rights are not violated by them either. However, the date of the meeting has not yet been set.

Meanwhile, in response to the email query sent to Amazon, an Amazon India spokesperson told CNBCTV18: “The meeting mentioned was one such meeting that was proactively sought by the company to develop more user-friendly services. Amazon strives to resolve complaints within 24-48 hours and has maintained 98% resolutions on the National Consumer Helpline.

The increase in the sale of counterfeit goods has also been a matter of concern raised by the Delhi High Court.

The traders’ body, the Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT), has written to the ministry to ensure that counterfeit products are not being sold online and that consumer rights are protected.

CAIT had previously stated that e-commerce portals were used for the sale of counterfeit products, the smuggling of drugs, the sale of raw materials used in the manufacture of bombs, which could prove very detrimental not only to security of the country, but also cause serious injury. to customers.

The body has urged Trade Minister Piyush Goyal, who is also consumer minister, to immediately take notice and act on the matter. He called for a serious but thorough discussion in the two ministries on the order passed recently by Judge Pratibha Singh of the Delhi High Court.

CAIT National Chairman BC Bhartia and General Secretary Praveen Khandelwal have alleged that major foreign-funded e-commerce portals operating in India are not doing the necessary “know your customer” of sellers, although that they are required to complete the KYC of each of them before embarking on their respective platform.

“Whenever they are caught violating the law, rules and policies, they always pass the buck to the seller sheltering from Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, stating that ‘they are a marketplace and providing a technology platform for buyers and sellers which is a blatant lie as orders on their respective portals have come to those portals who have veto power to decide who the order should be be diverted for supply,” Khandelwal said.

“How can they say they know nothing about the transactions that have happened on their platform when they are processing not just the order but even the packaging and logistics etc. Also, taking a certain amount as commission, they become part of the sales mechanism and therefore cannot escape liability to consumers for any product,” he added.

First post: STI