All e-commerce firms in the country will have to be transparent while selling their packaged products from next month, said the government.
“The e-commerce companies will have to comply with the new rules. They are free to offer discounts. But the declarations have to be transparent for consumers to get the details,” consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on the sidelines of an event marking the National Consumers Day.
These norms have been made mandatory after receiving complaints that some of the e-commerce companies don’t show the exact MRP while offering huge discounts to attract consumers.
Companies need to mention the exact Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of their products such as mobile phones, electronic goods and other consumer durables and non-durable on the online platform and on the products as well.
“There are cases of e-commerce companies in mobile phone sector not providing items such as earphone while selling their items. The MRP quoted on the website will have to be mentioned on the packets as well,” he added.
Meanwhile, the government has given six months time to firms to exhaust their old stocks by March. However, firms will have to comply with new rule from Jan 1.
The consumer affairs department has brought in amendments to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, which also bans the practice of dual MRP for the same product for all packaged items.
The companies can put barcode or QR code and e-code for net quantity assurance. They are also free to use government initiatives such as Swachh Bharat on the labels of their products.
Major e-commerce firms operating in the country include Flipkart, Snapdeal, Shopclues, Amazon and Paytm. Earlier in 2016, E-tailer rules prohibited marketplaces from offering discounts and cap total sales originating from a group company or one vendor at 25%.
Consumer Protection Bill
Cabinet on Thursday approved the introduction of the Consumer Protection Bill, 2017. This Bill seeks to replace the 31-year old law ‘Consumer Protection Act, 1986′.
“The proposed law would help in dealing with current challenges emanating from digital and e-commerce transactions,” said Paswan.
On misleading ads, the bill provides for fine and ban on celebrities. In case of first offence, the fine will be up to Rs 10 lakh and a one-year ban on any endorsement. For the second offence, the fine will be up to Rs 50 lakh and up to three years’ ban. However, for manufacturers and companies, the penalty is up to Rs 10 lakh and up to two years’ jail for the first offence. The fine will be up to Rs 50 lakh and five years’ jail for the subsequent offence.
The bill also provides for the penalty and up to life term jail sentence in case of adulteration.