What If I get a fake product in online purchase?

When we order an expensive device like a Mobile or laptop online and end up receiving a package containing stones as the above unfortunate gentleman is reported to have received, one wonders how to recover the loss.

The E Commerce platform may be reluctant to take the blame as this could be a fraud committed by a courier boy who may not be traceable at all. There may also be cases where because some fraudulent buyers have made false claims of such nature, the E Commerce platform or the merchant may not take the blame and accuse the customer himself that he is not telling the truth.

There are also issues of fake products being delivered or products of a different specifications and lesser value being delivered. In some of these cases the E Commerce platform may accept returns but in some cases they may not.

The Consumer in such cases need to initiate other actions to ensue that his grievance is resolved.

In Indian law, every Intermediary such as the E Commerce platform need to disclose a “Grievance Redressal Process” and the name and contact of the Grievance redressal officer for the website. Often most websites donot have such contacts disclosed on the website or the App.

Most service providers display a Terms of Contract which is accepted as a “Click Wrap Contract” which is not recognized under Information Technology Act and renders the contract as an “Implied Standard Form Contract” which can be disputed in a Court.

Further the Terms are under the custody of only one of the parties to the contract namely the platform and the Consumer does not have any control on changes that may be made to the terms. (Similar issues are also faced in respect of consents given on the basis of the version of a privacy policy as present on a website on the date of transaction”

As a result of the above, pursuing the legal case in a Court of law to claim damages for the lost money would be almost impossible even if the jurisdiction is a local Court. Amazon and Snapdeal have a Court jurisdiction in Delhi while Flipkart has a court jurisdiction in Bangalore which itself makes it expensive and impossible for buyers from any other place to take legal action.

In such cases, we need the following.

  1. A Dispute resolution Mechanism which is easy to use and not very expensive.
  2. Evidence about the fact that the package was not containing the product

Naavi suggests that we should make it mandatory for such intermediaries to ensure that the Courts in the place where purchase is made must have the jurisdiction to resolve the disputes. In one of the cases related to adjudication in Chennai, Punjab National Bank had argued that the customer has to file the case in Delhi instead of Chennai since the head quarters of the Bank was in Delhi. At that time a complaint had been made to RBI that Bank’s license should be cancelled outside Delhi, if they insist on this jurisdiction and then they agreed to proceed with the case.

In order to render the jurisdiction in a physical location irrelevant, the disputes should be resolved with the use of “Online Dispute Resolution”. With the increased use of Video conferencing even in Court proceedings, it should now be possible for a system like what has been recommended under www.odrglobal.in could be used for the purpose of online dispute resolution. This would sort out the problem of court jurisdiction to a large extent.

Additionally Naavi has activated a service under CEAC Drop Box (Refer www.ceac.in) and a new service called CEAC-EDB-Video Service to address the requirements of Evidence Collectio.

The CEAC-EDB service can be used to capture the Terms of Service as well as the Privacy Policy of a Website as also the product specifications offered by the seller for sale.

Where the unboxing of the expensive item purchased has to be evidenced, an advance appointment has to be fixed with CEAC and a registrar will then make a Video observation of the unboxing and record it in his computer with a CEAC certificate.

Both CEAC-EDB and CEAC-EDB-Video can be claimed with CEAC certification within 30 days of the dropping or at such extended time as agreed upon payment of the necessary fees.

Dropping of static documents will be available free but creation of CEAC-EDB Videos will be charged. Retrieving the certified copies of both would also require payment of fees.

The fees will be quoted based on the duration of the video and the size of the files.

These twin services would perhaps be able to sort out the evidentiary problems that may be faced by victims of the E Commerce delivery frauds.

Naavi

 

 

 

 

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About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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