The rules stipulate that e-commerce platforms will have to set up a grievance redressal cell and appoint a nodal officer, and ensure all complaints are resolved within a month.
Last year, a report in the Economic Times had highlighted that one in every six complaints received on the national consumer helpline was against an e-commerce entity. Although, the government also said that it was able to resolve 5.5 lakh of the total complaints, it has now done well to strengthen rules on e-commerce platforms in its new consumer protection law released last week. The rules stipulate that e-commerce platforms will have to set up a grievance redressal cell and appoint a nodal officer, and ensure all complaints are resolved within a month. They also urge e-commerce entities to ask for relevant information from their sellers so that it can be displayed prominently on the website.
The rules also place on the e-commerce platform the onus of ensuring that product images and description match the product, and sellers do not resort to boosting reviews and ratings to make their products more attractive. How e-commerce platforms go about this would be important. A Daily Mail investigation last year had found that, despite Amazon’s best efforts, sellers were purchasing favourable reviews for 15 euros. A report by consumer group Which? had discovered that, in a particular case, for headphones, almost nine in 10 of more than 12,000 reviews were from unverified purchases. Analysis by ReviewMeta highlights that fake reviews on Amazon have been rising. The number of unverified reviews increased six-times, to 1.8 million in March 2019 as compared to last year. While 99.6% of these reviews were five-star in 2019, this figure was 75.6% a year before.