The Consumer Protection (Ecommerce) Rules 2020

Main objective of Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 is to protect consumers from unfair trade practices, to address their concerns, and to regulate E-commerce sector in India. The Consumer Protection (Ecommerce) Rules 2020 attempts to provide penal powers to the Consumer Protection Act 2019, Indian exchange control laws (IEC Regulations) and the Information   Technology   Act   2000, to   ensure   fair   play    in    technology    and    data- driven ecommerce environment.

The Rules are applicable to all goods and services bought or sold over digital or electronic network including digital products; all models of e-commerce, including marketplace and inventory models of ecommerce; all e-commerce retail, including multi-channel single brand retailers and single brand retailers in single or multiple formats; and all forms of unfair trade practices across all models of E-commerce. These rules shall also apply to an e- commerce entity which is not established in India, but systematically offers goods or services to consumers in India.

An e-commerce entity shall appoint a nodal person of contact or an alternate senior designated functionary who is resident in India, to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Act or the rules made thereunder.

Every e-commerce entity shall provide the following information in a clear and accessible manner on its platform, displayed prominently to its users, namely:

  • legal name of the e-commerce entity;
  • principal geographic address of its headquarters and all branches;
  • name and details of its website; and
  • contact details like e-mail address, fax, landline and mobile numbers of customer care as well as of grievance

No e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise. Every e-commerce entity shall establish an adequate grievance redressal mechanism having regard to the number of grievances ordinarily received by such entity from India and shall appoint a grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal, and shall display the name, contact details, and designation of such officer on its platform.

Where an e-commerce entity offers imported goods or services for sale, it shall mention the name and details of any importer from whom it has purchased such goods or services, or who may be a seller on its platform. No e-commerce entity shall impose cancellation charges on consumers cancelling after confirming purchase unless similar charges are also borne by the e- commerce entity, if they cancel the purchase order unilaterally for any reason.

E-commerce entities are not allowed to manipulate the price of the goods or services offered on its platform in such a manner as to gain unreasonable profit by imposing on consumers any unjustified price having regard to the prevailing market conditions, the essential nature of the good or service, any extraordinary circumstances under which the good or service is offered, and any other relevant consideration in determining whether the price charged is justified;

Further the Rules specifies that no seller shall falsely present itself as a consumer and post fake reviews about the goods and services or about the features or qualities of those goods and services. No seller shall refuse to take back goods or withdraw or discontinue services purchased or agreed to be purchased or refuse to refund if the goods or services provided by the seller are defective or do not match the qualities or features mentioned by the seller on the website or if they are delivered later than the expected delivery date. Similarly, every inventory E-commerce entity shall provide the following information Accurate information related to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, cost of return shipping, mode of payments, grievance redressal mechanism, all mandatory notices and information required by applicable laws, display single figure total along with the break-up price and ticket number for each complaint from which the consumer can track the status of complaint.

The rules set out a level playing field for all ecommerce players and are a significant step towards better digital governance. Thus, implementation of the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020 will shield consumers from unfair trade practices to a great extent.

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