There has been a steep 16-fold increase in the number of complaints related to E-commerce shopping in the last five years.
According to data of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, as many as 5,204 complaints related to E-commerce were received in 2013-2014, while this number has now gone up to 78,088 in 2017-2018.
While purchasing products through e-commerce, the consumers face various problems like non-delivery of products, delivery of defective/wrong products, and delay in delivery of products. There have been instances where the companies refused to return or refund a product under the replacement warranty. In some cases, consumers did not get the product back after repair or replacement or the products were found to be missing during the delivery.
In order to check such incidents, the department of consumer affairs started a National Consumer Helpline (NCH), where complaints related to e-commerce sector are received. The NCH has partnered with more than 400 companies, including 66 e-commerce companies, and the complaints received are transferred through the system software to these companies for redressal. A consumer can also file a complaint in the consumer forum established under the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 1986.
The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha this week, following which minister of state for consumer affairs C.R. Chaudhary said that unfair trade practices would soon be minimised. He said the government has introduced the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha in January this year, which seeks to provide for an executive agency to be called the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), which will prevent unfair trade practices. The minister said provisions have been made in the Bill for framing of rules for preventing unfair trade practices in e-commerce having consumer focus.
On the other hand, the ministry of commerce headed by Suresh Prabhu has initiated the process to prepare a National Policy on E-commerce in order to make the sector more transparent and ensure that the country is adequately prepared to take advantage of the opportunities and meet the challenges which would arise from the next wave of advancements in the digital economy.