How many times have you read a news article about someone being duped by e-commerce websites? Unfortunately, in today’s world, this is a fairly common occurrence.
There have been several instances where people bought expensive products only to get a product that was fake, and of dubious quality. However, even as everyone cautions against purchasing products from e-commerce sites, it is sometimes impossible to go to a retail store. Additionally, online shopping offers a convenience that is unmatched.
In a situation where a consumer has been duped, it is his or her legal right to get the product they paid for, whether online or in person, and consequently, e-commerce sites must be held accountable.
Taking the many instances of counterfeit products being sold to unsuspecting customers, the Central Government is taking steps to help consumers.
The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) is currently working on a proposal which will enable a cash-back scheme to consumers if they receive counterfeit products.
“The DIPP is discussing the proposed cash-back scheme, which is to be implemented on a voluntary basis, with the Consumer Affairs Ministry and e-commerce websites,” a DIPP official told The Hindu Business Line, adding that “Talks are in the initial stage and it would take some time to take final shape.”
Even so, it is encouraging to know that the government is thinking of stepping in matters where innocent consumers are duped, and fake/duplicate products are sold to them as originals.
According to the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, “Counterfeiting has grown considerably to a point where it has become a widespread phenomenon with a global impact. Counterfeiting, other than causing erosion on the brand value, reputation and goodwill of the manufacturers and owners of IP (Intellectual Property), leads to social and economic consequences resulting in huge economic losses regarding lost taxes and revenues.”
Since India still is not entirely reliable on cashless transactions, this scheme will work as a cash-back policy instead of involving banking channels, as is the case in Canada and Hong Kong.
A national conference being held on March 13 and 14, 2018, organised by DIPP, will take the initial plans forward through discussion and ideation.
Speaking about an example where this scheme can be implemented, the official from DIPP said, “In case of items such as mobile phones, a consumer may realise that her purchase is a counterfeit only after she sends it to the company for some repairs. This may be several months after the product is bought and not fall within the replacement period of 30 days offered by most e-retail companies. It may not be possible to replace a counterfeit item if the vendor that sold it doesn’t have any original item. The new proposal of cash back would be to deal with such cases.”
If such a situation arises, according to the initial plans of DIPP, they can file a complaint at a single point. According to the Hindu Business Line, this point is likely to be the Consumer Affairs Ministry which will take the complaint to the e-commerce platform. When the platform verifies that the product in question is in fact, a duplicate product, a cashback will be initiated to the consumer’s account.
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