ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This article has been written by Sandra Paul, a Law student
at Christ University, Bangaluru.
E-Commerce is the act of “buying or selling of goods or services including digital products over the digital or electronic network” as per section 2(16) of the Consumer Protection Act,2019. This act became effective on 20th July 2020 and the aforesaid Rules is a part of implementing the same. The rules aim to regulate the price manipulation and quality control of e-commerce entities inter alia requiring them to adhere to a certain set of guidelines to enable consumers to make informed decisions and prevent price manipulation.
The notification contains 8 rules and can be divided into 4 parts:
1) The duties of e-commerce entities.
2) The Duties and liabilities of Market Place entities.
3) Duties and liabilities of Inventory based e-commerce entities.
4) Duties of sellers in a marketplace.
The Rules are applicable to all e-commerce entities which includes any person who owns, operates, or manages digital or electronic facility or platform for electronic commerce, but does not include a seller offering his goods or services for sale on a marketplace e-commerce entity, to market place entities ie, an e-commerce entity which provides an information technology platform on a digital or electronic network to facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers and inventory-based e-commerce entities, where the e-commerce entity itself owns the products that it sells through the digital platform. It also applies to all goods and services bought or sold over the digital or electronic networks including digital products. The penal provisions are applicable over all forms of unfair trade practices throughout all e-commerce models.
1. An important provision is that where an e-commerce entity offers imported goods or services for sale, it should 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. This was particularly brought in considering the Indo-China situation and to encourage consumers to make informed choices.
2. The new rules say not to impose cancellation charges on the customers if the sellers themselves are not willing to make payments when they cancel from their side.
3. That no e-commerce entity should for the goods and services offered try to gain any unreasonable profit by manipulating the price of the goods or services offered on its platform and try to burden the consumers by any unjustified price having regard to the prevailing market conditions. The sellers are also prevented from making any arbitrary classification of its consumers and quoting differential prices on specific consumer groups. The rules also specify that every marketplace e-commerce entity to provide adequate descriptions which perfectly match and not overshadow the original appearance, quality, quantity, nature, and other general features of the goods or services they sell or advertise and again not to mislead or misrepresent before the consumers prompting them to make misleading choices.
4. That the sellers display the total price in the single figure of any good or service they provide along with the breakup price for the good or service, displaying all the charges included such as delivery charges, GST, CGST, local taxes, etc.
5. Every inventory e-commerce entity shall ensure that the advertisements for the marketing of goods or services are consistent with the actual characteristics, access, and usage conditions of such goods or services.
6. That no inventory e-commerce entity should refuse to take back goods, or withdraw or discontinue services purchased or agreed to be purchased, or refuse to refund the amount paid, if such goods or services are defunct, spoiled, or does not match the description, lost quality while transporting or if it does not match the qualities of the good advertised. The same can be done even if the goods and services are delivered late.
These are some of the few important provisions brought about in the new E-commerce Rules, 2020.
Consumer Protection (E-Commerce Rules)2020