eCommerce has grown immensely in the recent times. Online shopping has become very popular because of convenience and easy access to wide range of products and service. However, there are many customers who are dissatisfied with a bad service delivery or defective product and want to return or claim refund for the products purchased online.
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
Consumer Protection laws safeguard purchasers of goods and services against defective products and deceptive, fraudulent business practices. The government has introduced many changes in the laws to protect the rights of consumers and help them get relief. Some of the acts are the Consumer Protection Act 2019, The Information Technology Act, and regulatory act such as Indian Medical Association which protects the consumer from online frauds and makes it easy for purchasers to return and claim refund for any faulty product.
How can a Consumer file a complaint?
Consumer can file a complaint under the Consumer Protection act 2019 if –
- he has received a defective product
- he has received a fake product
- the product has not been delivered or there has been a delay; or
- no refund or return is being initiated by the eCommerce site
To explain this better, let’s take the example of a consumer who from an eCommerce website, ordered a mobile phone for ₹ 25,000 which had some advanced features. The consumer received a different phone, and this was a version lower than what he had ordered. The consumer then files a return complaint to the ecommerce site immediately but does not receive any response from the e-commerce site. Customer keeps following but even after 30 days no refund in initiated and there is no response from the seller.
The Consumer should then take one of the following steps-
- he can lodge a complaint online on the National Consumer Helpline
- the consumer can also take help from local consumer protection organization that helps in filing consumer protection complaints
- he can lodge an FIR in any police station
- he can approach the consumer forum with the complaint to seek redressal
Highlights of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The new Consumer Protection Act 2019 has made modifications in the old law to deal with eCommerce frauds. It enforces an eCommerce site to take easy returns, replace and refund easily to a person who has purchased a product from the eCommerce site and is not satisfied with the quality of the product and service delivery.
The reformed Consumer Protection Act has made it mandatory for all the eCommerce sites to clearly display on the website their Return and Cancellation Policy and the Consumer Helpline number to help the aggrieved customers
Under the new Act, the Seller cannot refuse return of defective products or late delivered products and defective products. The new rules include-
- The Consumer within a specified time period without paying any cancellation charges can return or refund provided, that the product remains in its original condition without any alteration
- The Consumer should send a written complaint to the eCommerce site and also to the Seller
- No refund or No replacement statements should be removed from the website
- The guarantees to come with the purchase of the goods itself and the Supplier cannot claim for extra charges
- The Consumer can return defective goods to the seller directly
- The Consumer can seek help from the Consumer Disputes Redressal forum or the state consumer protection council or the Central Consumer Protection Council for the redressal of his grievances
- The Central Consumer Protection Council can be responsible for implementing the provisions and rules of the Consumer Protection Act
- The Central Consumer Protection Council should maintain a website for tracking the complaints at district, central and state levels including the details of the type of the products and the type of refund as well as the status of the refund
The Consumer Protection Laws and Rules protect and safeguard the consumers from any wrongdoing by the eCommerce websites and Sellers and help in seeking speedy redressal. The Consumer needs to be aware of their rights and responsibilities in order to seek justice.