E-commerce firms witness 42% rise in complaints in a year: Ministry

E-commerce complaints

Update: The earlier version of the story said that the complaints have risen to 48 per cent. However, it was 42 per cent. We have reflected the changes in the article /headline and sincerely regret the error.

The number of complaints against e-commerce firms in India has been on the rise. The complaints related to the e-commerce sector received at the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) run by the Department of Consumer Affairs saw a 42 per cent rise in 2017-18 compared to the previous year.

NCH received 78,088 complaints as compared to 54872 in 2016-17, outlined a reply data by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MCA), Food and Public Distribution. Five years ago, the numbers were merely 5204.

The complaints included various problems such as non-delivery of products, delivery of defective or wrong products, late or delay in delivery of products, not returning or refunding under replacement warranty, not getting products back after repair or replacement, and missing of product Accessories, among many.

In recent years, the e-commerce sector has seen exponential growth, almost doubling in value in 2016-17 compared to the previous year. In 2016-17, according to an Assocham report, there were around 69 million online consumers which rose to 108 million in next year.

The e-commerce market in India is poised to grow at a 30 per cent compound annual growth rate in gross merchandise value and will be worth $200 billion by 2026, according to investment bank Morgan Stanley.

In 2016, around 60 million people shopped online in India, which constitutes 14 per cent of the internet user base of the country. This will rise to over 50 per cent by 2026.

Meanwhile, the NCH has tied up with 66 e-commerce companies and the complaints received are transferred through the system software to these companies for redressal, the response added.

For preventing unfair trade, the Government introduced the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018 in the Lok Sabha on January 5 this year, seeking to provide a Central authority capable of investigating complaints, refunding consumers and imposing penalties.

The bill will be taken up in the ongoing Monsoon session of the Lok Sabha.  The government department has also launched a portal to lodge complain.

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