Are you a marketplace e-commerce entity? If yes, are you a seller? If you are then the checklist is for you.
This is checklist for sellers on e-commerce platforms.
This focuses on the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and a key rule under there, the Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020.
Sellers matter to platforms commercially and for this reason, it is useful for platforms to be aware of seller responsibilities. The counter-party risk this presents can be worked into terms and conditions by the platform and even be subject to audits.
It is important not to get distracted by the safe harbours only mean the platform is not liable in the I.T. Act, 2000 – these 2020 Rules are imposed by a different law. So the “we are an intermediary” defence does not help platforms here.
For any discussions, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. And remember this is not formal legal advice!
THE CONSUMER ACT PLAYBOOK: FOR SELLERS (AND FOR PLATFORMS TO “JUST KNOW”)
“Marketplace e-commerce entity” – an e-commerce entity which provides an information technology platform on a digital or electronic network to facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers;
“Seller” – a “product seller” in s. 2(37) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and includes service providers.
The seller cannot not adopt any unfair trade practice whether on the e-commerce platform or otherwise.
If the good or service is defective, deficient or spurious, or if the goods or services are not of the same characteristics or features as advertised or agreed to, then the seller cannot refuse to take back goods or for services: refuse to withdraw or discontinue services. Refunds will be provided. All of this also applies if goods and services are delivered later from the stated delivery schedule (except in case of delay caused by force majeure).
The seller shall have a written contract with the respective e-commerce entity in order to sell his goods/services on the platform.
The seller shall appoint a grievance redressal officer for redressing grievances of consumers. This office will acknowledge receipt of a consumer complaint within 48 hours and redress the complaint within 1 month from date of receipt of the complaint.
The seller shall ensure that any advertisement for marketing of goods or services is consistent with the actual characteristics, access and usage conditions of such goods and services. The platform is required to take as an “undertaking” on this from the seller
The seller will provide following to the platform: the legal name, principal geographical address of its headquarters and all branches, name and details of website, email-address, customer care contact details (fax, landline, mobile numbers) and wherever applicable, GSTIN and PAN details.
The seller shall provide following information to the e-commerce entity to be displayed on the platform –
All contractual information required to be disclosed by law (think FSSAI and legal meteorology laws)
Total price and the breakup price and applicable tax.
All mandatory notices and information provided by applicable laws, and expiry date of the good being offered for sale
All relevant details including country of origin
Name and contact numbers and designation of grievance officer
Name and details of importer, and guarantees related to authenticity or genuineness of imported products
Accurate information related to terms of exchange, returns, and refund including information related to costs of return shipping in clear and accessible manner
Relevant details related to delivery and shipment of goods or services
Any relevant guarantees or warranties for the good or services.
Points 6 and 7 are especially important because there is a platform liability to display this: and the platform will be unable to do this unless it has this data from the sellers.
It is a different issue how viable these laws are given their intensity and reach. Perhaps a policy change is strongly required. The idea of this playbook at the moment is also to share current public information as that is what laws are.