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Oct 31 is new deadline to submit feedback on ecomm guidelines

Draft rules say companies would not be allowed to influence prices or engage in ‘unfair’ practices.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 17, 2019, 08.23 AM IST
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Industry executives and experts said the guidelines largely replicated what was already in the draft ecommerce guidelines released by the DPIIT earlier this year.
BENGALURU: The consumer affairs ministry has extended a deadline to submit feedback on ecommerce guidelines intended to protect consumers who shop online, to October 31 from September 16, according to a notification on Monday.

This follows calls from several stakeholders, including state governments, to provide more time to make their submissions, people in the know told ET.

ET reported in August that the proposed rules were aimed at curbing the sale of counterfeit goods, streamlining returns and refunds, and delineating the liabilities of sellers and online marketplaces.

The draft guidelines, which were notified early last month, also said ecommerce marketplaces would not be allowed to influence prices of products or engage in ‘unfair or deceptive’ practices. “A lot of stakeholders have sought clarity on the draft guidelines (for consumer protection), especially on the definition of unfair trade practices, demarcation of marketplace versus inventory-led ecommerce and norms for advertising,” a person who has engaged with the ministry on the draft said.

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Ecommerce companies told ET that they had been ready to submit the guidelines on Monday if the deadline had not been extended. Now, they would talk to the government to get more clarity on certain issues before making final submissions. All company executives pleaded anonymity given the ongoing nature of their engagement with the government. Other industry executives and experts said the guidelines largely replicated what was already in the draft ecommerce guidelines released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) earlier this year.

Community feedback platform LocalCircles told ET that it had submitted inputs from consumers on the guidelines to the ministry. “In the coming weeks, we will be consolidating inputs from sellers, SMEs and startups and sharing the same with the department,” said Sachin Taparia, founder and chairman of LocalCircles, referring to the extension of the deadline.

The draft guidelines come at a time when several ministries are looking at ways to adequately regulate ecommerce marketplaces and other online businesses in the country. Along with the DPIIT’s draft ecommerce rules, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has also sought stakeholder feedback on non-personal data or business data.

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