E-commerce industry associations have sought more time – at least 6-7 months — to comply with the new consumer protection rules, including one that requires e-tailers to mandatorily display the ‘country of origin’ of goods.
The Consumer Protection (E-commerce) Rules, 2020, were notified on July 23. The rules, which came into effect immediately, require e-commerce firms to display the country of origin, in keeping with an amendment to the Legal Metrology Rules in 2017.
It also requires e-commerce marketplaces and sellers to appoint grievance officers, who will have to resolve consumer grievances within one month of getting a complaint.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci) wrote to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs earlier this month, seeking up to seven months’ time to comply with the rules. ET has reviewed a copy of the letter.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), too, has written to the Department of Consumer Affairs secretary Leena Nandan, requesting a transition period of eight weeks to permit e-commerce firms to comply with the rules.
Separately, industry insiders also told ET that companies may also approach the ministry independently and ask for clarification on the new rules.
ET could not immediately ascertain whether leading e-commerce players such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal had approached the consumer affairs ministry.
“Some of these requirements will put undue stress on MSME sellers who already have their backs up against the wall due to excessive compliances that come with selling online,” said a senior executive at an e-commerce firm.
“These compliances are making it hard for them, especially in times of Covid-19 (outbreak) when the government wants to encourage more small sellers to go online,” the executive added.
Previously, talks between the government and industry on compliance with the country of origin rule were led by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Those talks have fallen through, industry sources said.
“There has been no communication after the first two meetings since the consumer affairs ministry took over the subject by including country of origin requirements in its new rules,” said another senior industry executive. “In our last meeting, the DPIIT had said it would come back with a date for implementation of the requirement, but the consumer protection rules state that this needs to be done immediately.”
Amazon told sellers in an email last month that the country of origin requirement would be mandatory for listing products on its platform and had set August 10 as the deadline for sellers to update their existing listings.
Flipkart and Snapdeal are understood to have mandated disclosure of country of origin for all new listings on their platforms.
ET could not independently ascertain if Flipkart and Snapdeal had also set deadlines for sellers to update existing listings.
The new consumer protection rules also disallow platforms from charging cancellation fee from consumers, which experts and industry insiders have pointed out will affect sectors such as ride hailing services and online food delivery.