LocalCircles proposes that the Government expand the definition of ecommerce to include services
- • Thousands of consumers share inputs on issues faced with various ecommerce services
30th September 2019, New Delhi: Going to the market to buy groceries, to the chemist to medicines or even going to a restaurant to get food packed is considered to be a thing of past now. Ecommerce has made our lives easier. Medicines, food, taxi, tickets and even a plumber or an electrician will come knocking at your doorsteps on a click of a button on your mobile. The ecommerce policy being developed by DPIIT and the ecommerce guidelines being developed by the Department of Consumer Affairs both have the same thing in common – protection of consumer interest!
With all this being said, it is time that along with products, services are also included in the definition of ecommerce by the Government, as many companies have developed sites and apps which provide services to consumers through the ecommerce channel.
After this issue was raised by various consumers on LocalCircles, extensive consumer consultations were conducted to identify various other areas/businesses which should be brought under the ecommerce policy/guidelines. Consumers identified various sectors where they purchase products and services online. Over 63,000 posts and comments were received during this consultation, where the consumers detailed out various instances of issues they have faced while procuring services through ecommerce.
Some of the issues faced by consumers on ecommerce services included no disclosure of convenience fee by travel/event ticketing apps, medicines on e-pharmacy apps not showing best before dates, consumers being told at expected delivery time that the restaurant which you ordered from is closed, buying content/video streaming apps but requirement to use the app to play the bought songs, last minute ride cancellations by drivers, home maintenance service worker committing theft, etc.
Other ecommerce services where consumers have lots of grievances included online recruitment, payment services, peer to peer marketplaces, accommodation services and gaming services. Instances were shared of how frauds are routinely taking place on peer to peer marketplaces.
LocalCircles has made a submission to the Department of Consumer Affairs to consider including all the above services identified in the graphic above. This will require creation of a separate section called ecommerce services in the rules which will help protect consumer interest. According to consumers, following is the comprehensive list of areas that should be covered under the ecommerce rules & policy:
- • Product ecommerce – Market Places
- • Product ecommerce – Inventory services
- • E-Pharmacy services
- • E-Grocery services
- • Food delivery services
- • Payment services
- • Travel/ticket services
- • Accommodation services
- • Taxi services
- • Vehicle pooling services
- • Airline & train ticketing services
- • E-Rental services
- • Peer-to-peer buying selling
- • Home repair/relocation services
- • Financial services
- • Employment/recruitment services
- • Matchmaking & dating services
- • Event ticketing services
- • Subscription & content services
- • Gaming services
The guidelines for services should be such that they empower the consumer with key information about the service terms for the particular product/service, the service provider details and their liabilities before the consumer makes a transaction. In addition, they should also have a grievance redressal mechanism and the same should be displayed on the ecommerce site/app.