In a run-up to the festive season, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) took stringent action to safeguard consumer interests issuing 202 notices to entities with regard to country of origin violations in the period between October 16-22.
Out of this, electronic products recorded the highest violations with 47 notices, followed by apparel with 35 notices. About 75 companies have compounded their offences, out of which 68 have compounded for violations relating to country of origin. The total amount collected by compounding of the offences is Rs 41,85,500.
CCPA, which functions under the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution entrusted with the duty to safeguard the interests of consumers and bring violators to task.
CCPA found that the violations involved declaring false country of origin on the products listed on e-commerce platforms and failure to declare country of origin. In this regard suo-moto cognizance of the matter was taken on the basis of complaints received from numerous consumers on the National Consumer Helpline portal.
Rule 6(5)(d) of the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020 mandate any seller offering goods or services through a marketplace e-commerce entity to provide all relevant details about the goods and services offered for sale by the seller including country of origin, necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage.
Rule 4(3) further stipulates that no e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice, whether in the course of business on its platform or otherwise.
CCPA has sent Notice to e-commerce entities for violations reported on their platforms. It has directed such entities to furnish detailed reply as to what are the tangible steps that have been taken by them on this matter.
Since LM (Packaged Commodity) Rules also mandate declaration of country of origin on e-commerce platforms, CCPA is also working in coordination with the Legal Metrology Department for necessary action under the Legal Metrology Act.
It has come to the notice of CCPA that some marketplace e-commerce entities are not complying with Rule 5(3)(e) of the E-Commerce Rules, 2020 which mandates every marketplace e-commerce entity to prominently display to its users, in a clear and accessible manner at an appropriate place on its platform, all information provided to it by sellers under sub-rule (5) of rule 6 including the name, contact numbers and designation of the grievance officer for consumer grievance redressal or for reporting any other matter. Hence, consumers are unable to get redressal of their grievances from sellers on such platforms.
Due to lack of required information, a consumer is ill-informed about the product or service. Without any information of name, contact number and designation of grievance officer of seller, published on the platform, a consumer has no choice but to contact the marketplace e-commerce entity in case of any grievance.
In its review, CCPA has found that marketplace e-commerce entities are giving run-of-the-mill reply to consumers stating that they are only intermediaries and are not liable for any grievance with regard to the product and it is the seller who is responsible for any liability arising out of purchase made on its platform.
Hence, CCPA has issued Advisory to all marketplace e-commerce platforms on 01.10.2021 for displaying information provided by sellers as per the E-Commerce Rules, 2020.
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