New rules for e-commerce entities notified; 'country of origin' tag made mandatory

Under new draft Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, e-commerce companies will have to display the total price along with break-up of charges and 'country of origin' on their goods. A nodal officer will be appointed for compliance.

New rules for e-commerce entities notified; 'country of origin' tag made mandatory
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New Delhi: The government has notified new rules and regulations for e-commerce companies under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, making it mandatory to display the 'country of origin' on their products stating that any non-compliance will attract penal action under the Act. 

The 'Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020', notified on July 23, is part of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. It was to be implemented in the country from July 20, but will now be implemented from July 27. Consumer and Food Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan will address a press conference on July 27 on the same.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distributions notified the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, to cover all goods sold online through the marketplace or inventory-led models. The new norms aim to protect the rights of consumer by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers' disputes.

The 'Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020' will be applicable to all electronic retailers (e-tailers), registered in India or abroad but offering goods and services to Indian consumers. The new rules empower the central government to act against unfair trade practices in e-commerce, direct selling. They require e-tailers to facilitate easy returns, address customer grievances and prevent discriminating against merchants on their platforms.

The new rules mandate that marketplaces, as well as sellers, would be required to have grievance officers who have to respond in a time-bound manner.

According to the new rules, the e-commerce players will have to display the total price of goods and services offered for sale along with the break-up of other charges. They are also required to mention the 'expiry date' of goods offered for sale and the 'country of origin' of goods and services that are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage.

E-commerce players must display details about return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, and grievance redressal mechanism, and any other similar information that may be required by consumers to make informed decisions.

Sellers offering goods and services through a marketplace e-commerce entity will have to provide the above details to the e-commerce entity to be displayed on its platform or website.

The new rules do not permit any inventory e-commerce entity, including single-brand retailers and multi-channel single-brand retailers, to 'falsely represent itself as a consumer and post reviews about goods and services or misrepresent the quality or the features of any goods and services'.

Inventory e-commerce entities will also have to ensure that the advertisements for the marketing of goods and services are consistent with the actual characteristics, access and usage conditions of such goods or services.

Under the new rules, no inventory e-commerce entity will be allowed to refuse to take back goods or withdraw or discontinue services purchased or agreed to be purchased, among others, subject to various conditions.