Govt makes it a must for e-commerce platforms to display country of origin

The rules making it mandatory for e-commerce platforms and market places, like Amazon and Flipkart, to display the country of origin of products will be notified later this week, central government officials said. 

The display, according to the draft rules for e-commerce companies under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), that came into force from Monday, will also be applicable for platforms and market places that are registered outside India. This has been introduced in an apparent bid to curb use of Chinese products.

“The draft rules for e-commerce firms under the Act will be notified by the end of this week,” Union Consumer Affairs Secretary Leela Nandan told reporters on Monday.

The declaration of the country of origin of products will enable consumers to make an informed decision, she said. Action will be taken on firms for violating the rules according to the provisions of the Act, Nandan added.

“Any seller offering goods or services through a marketplace e-commerce entity shall provide all relevant details about the goods and services offered for sale by the seller, including country of origin, which are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage,” the draft rules under the Act say.

The amendments to the CPA was cleared by the Parliament last year.

Apart, from e-commerce, the Act also has a host of other provisions including penalties for misleading advertisements, a central consumer protection authority, product liability, class action suits, simplified dispute resolution mechanism, and facility to file complaints from anywhere.
It will also have separate rules to guide the functioning of direct selling companies that will also be notified soon.

Meanwhile, for e-commerce firms, the draft rules said that all such entities, whether they are marketplaces or not, need to have a proper grievance redressal mechanism that needs to be prominently displayed on their websites.

The grievance redressal officer appointed by the firm will have to dispose of complaints within a month.

If any e-commerce entity sells imported goods, it has to mention the person from whom the goods have been purchased or the seller of such goods. The rules also state that e-commerce firms can impose cancellation charges on consumers only if it also bears such a charge in the event of unilateral cancellation of order from its side.

A seller in an e-commerce marketplace shall enter into formal agreements or contracts with the platform. The seller also needs to appoint its own grievance redressal officer, who will acknowledge a consumer complaint within 48 hours of receiving the same. 

That apart, any seller on an e-commerce platform has to disclose its contractual obligation with the platform alongside price, shipping charges.

Inventory e-commerce entities will also provide information to the consumers on refund and return, and pricing in a clear and transparent manner, the rules say.

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