Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Traders’ body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) on Sunday suggested changes to amendments proposed by the government last month to Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020. While the amendments proposed are likely to make e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, and others more accountable for their business practices in the country that were alleged to be unfair by CAIT, the suggestions would make them “more impactful.” In a letter to Anupam Mishra — Joint Secretary of Consumer Affairs ministry, CAIT said the draft rules will shatter the dreams of few companies to become a new version of East India Company and will bring an end to crony capitalism that exists in the current e-commerce landscape of India.
Among the suggestions made included, providing customer-care or toll-free call-center and email address of the company, total price in a single figure of any good or service along with the breakup showing all the compulsory and voluntary charges, charges payable by sellers for selling their goods on the platform and any other services provided by the e-commerce marketplace entity to be published on the website by e-commerce entity.
“Many e-commerce entities do not have any customer care/call center facility and consumers are unable to reach out to the company in case they need to e.g. in case of late delivery, defective products, after-sales service, cancellation, etc,” CAIT said in the letter. E-commerce marketplaces currently provide a call-back option to customers on request.
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CAIT also suggested e-commerce marketplaces should provide API-based access to all logistics service providers for quick integration with the platform so that sellers can choose their service provider in a transparent manner. “This will allow every third-party service provider to register on the e-commerce marketplace platform giving the consumers and the sellers the choice to choose from a wide range of service providers.”
Further, no marketplace or logistics service provider should make any offers to a consumer or a class of consumers that is not uniformly applicable across all the sellers on the platform, the letter read. If a marketplace e-commerce entity is offering any discounts or incentives to consumers or sellers to promote itself, it must give such discounts on a non-discriminatory basis across all consumers or sellers, as the case may be. Moreover, CAIT said to ensure transparency and prevent cross-subsidization, no marketplace e-commerce entity shall be allowed to collect bundled fees from consumers for the services provided with respect to the e-commerce platform and any other service not related to the e-commerce platform provided by the e-commerce entity or its related parties or associate enterprise.
The Consumer Affairs Ministry had earlier this month extended the deadline for feedback from marketplaces and others in the e-commerce ecosystem to the draft rules from July 6 to July 21 after an extension was sought for sharing inputs. The Karnataka High Court on Friday had dismissed a petition by Amazon and Flipkart that challenged a probe by the Competition Commission of India against alleged anti-competitive practices.