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Govt proposes e-comm guidelines for consumer protection; seeks comments till Sep 16

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To protect the interest of consumers, the government has proposed e-commerce guidelines, which is meant to serve as guiding principles for online businesses for preventing fraud, unfair trade practices and protecting the legitimate rights and interests of consumers. 

As per the Department of Consumer Affairs draft guidelines, it applies to B2C e-commerce business, including goods and services.

Among several key guidelines suggestions, the e-comm firms will have to comply with the provisions of Information Technology (Intermediaries guidelines) Rules, 2011. 

And payments for sale facilitated by those firms must be in conformity with the guidelines of the RBI. “E-comm firms have to provide details about the sellers supplying the goods and services, including how they can be contacted by customers shall be displayed on the website,” added the draft.

The above-mentioned businesses are also asked to not directly or indirectly influence the price of the goods or services and shall maintain a level playing field. 

It’s worth noting that the major points in the draft are essentially covered in press note 2.  According to the draft,  convicted criminals with 5 years of imprisonment can’t hold a post of promoters or key managerial positions.

Further, in the case of accepted refund requests by consumers for payments, it has to be dispensed within a period of two weeks.

The draft guidelines further mentioned that every e-commerce entity will have to publish the name and contact details of the Grievance Officer (GO) on its website, and the person has to resolve the complaint within one month from the date of receipt of the complaint.

On the guidelines, the ministry has sought suggestions of stakeholders by September 16.

The draft is part of govt tightening norms for e-comm firms, who have been getting foreign funds and are indulged in unfair practices. Meanwhile, the govt is also working on formulating a national e-commerce policy.

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