India’s new consumer protection rules for e-commerce platforms apply also to online services such as cab hailing, online ticketing and video streaming services, not just sellers of products online.
According to the Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020, which was notified by the Department of Consumer Affairs on July 23, it applies to all “goods and services bought or sold over digital or electronic network” and specifies the duties and liabilities of marketplace and inventory models of online commerce.
The rules were only believed to be regulating large e-commerce marketplaces such as Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal and single-brand e-commerce portals such as those of H&M, Patanjali and Ikea. However, its implications on online services, either through marketplaces or inventory-led models, had been little understood.
“The rules very clearly state that this is applicable to all forms of digital transactions involving the buying or selling of goods and services,” said a senior government official. “It would be wrong to think that this is only applicable for marketplace and inventory models where there is sale of physical goods.”
While the model of online services could be a little more complicated than the ubiquitous e-retail model, the applicability of rules remains the same, the official added.
The applicability of rules on such services means ride hailing platforms such as Uber and Ola will no longer be able to charge consumers a cancellation fee even after a ride is confirmed, unless these platforms bear a similar charge in case they cancel the service on their own.
It also means that online services such as MakeMyTrip, Oyo and even online ticketing services from airlines such as IndiGo, Vistara and SpiceJet will need to establish an adequate grievance redressal mechanism.
They will also have to appoint a grievance officer, who will have to acknowledge the receipt of a consumer complaint within 48 hours and redress that within one month of receiving the complaint…Read more>>