This article is written by Ritika Sharma from Ansal University. This article is curated by Himanshu Raj of CNLU Patna.
If you want to expand your shopping options, the internet is a great platform. Not only that, the internet also saves money when compared with conventional retail stores. Online shopping or e- shopping allows the customer to directly purchase the goods and services just by sitting at the comfort of your home. Online shopping was introduced in 1979 by an English entrepreneur Michael Aldrich.
A survey conducted by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India showed that the shopping trend has increased by 55 percent in 2013 as compared with previous year.
With the advent of online shopping we are not required to visit malls or stores. Due to the easy availability of products, more and more people have turned to e- shopping. Apart from this, it also saves fuel. These are some factors which keep customers glued to this trend. In India also the use of online shopping has tremendously increased. With the advancement in technology, smart gadgets, instant communication devices, it has become easier for the buyers to search and navigate through various websites.
However, online shopping is not convenient and comfortable for all the customers. Some do not find it safe to deal with unknown vendors. Pictures can be deceptive. Sometimes it misleads the buyer in quality. There are both advantages and disadvantages of e- shopping.
One of the significant advantages of online shopping is that it helps us to save our precious time as it permits us to shop anytime at our convenience instead of spending hours in local stores. You do not have to face the hassle of standing in queues, going to crowded markets rather you can sit at your home and select the product at the click of your mouse and it will be delivered at your doorsteps. Another advantage of online shopping is it offers variety and diversity of products. You can easily compare the prices of different brands and choose accordingly. It keeps you updated with the latest fashion and trends. If you want a safe payment mode you can opt for cash on delivery option.
As technology advances it is accompanied by some disadvantages also. The Internet removes barriers of consumers to buy products which are not essential. It makes them buy things which they do not need. Sometimes people buy without putting their minds into whether they should buy it or not. One of the main disadvantages is even after making payment your product will be delivered after a few days. Sometimes the product delivered is defective or does not stand up to your expectation. So, for getting your product replaced or to get your refunds you really have to make an effort. Because of this risk some people are very reluctant to opt for online shopping.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SUCH FRAUDS?
Check the authenticity of the website: Many fake sites are created for the purpose of extracting money from the consumer. Check the MRP of products on various sites. Check whether the site shows a locked icon and contains “HTTPS” in its URL.
Check the reviews and ratings: In order to get an idea of the image or reputation of the seller you must check the reviews and ratings of the products.
Make your payment option secure: It is better to use cash on delivery option to make payment. If you don’t have that option then opt for any other safe payment gateway.
Return policy: A clear return policy increases the faith of the consumer that what he is buying is not fake.
FOLLOWING ARE SOME REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO A CONSUMER IF HE ENDS UP RECEIVING A FAKE PRODUCT:
Contact the seller: The consumer must immediately open the customer support of the site from which he has purchased the product. He should lodge a complaint there and his complaint must contain all the details like product details, mode of payment, date on which he has purchased etc.
Legal notice: If the seller does not revert to the complaint or does not take any action on receiving the knowledge about the counterfeit product or fake product then the consumer must send a legal notice to the seller regarding the same.
File a suit: Still, if the seller does not take any action then the consumer may file a suit against the seller in consumer forum.
Suit for copyright infringement: If it is the case of fake or duplicate product, then the original brand may file a suit for copyright infringement under Copyrights Act, 1957.
LEGISLATION GOVERNING E- COMMERCE
Consumer Protection Act, 2019
The government of India has introduced a Consumer Protection Act, 2019 with the aim to protect the interest of consumers against unfair trade practices.
This act protects the rights of consumers and makes them aware of these rights. Under this act, there are three-tier systems where a consumer can file a case namely district forum, state commission and national commission.
Information Technology Act, 2000
This act aims to provide legal structure to E- commerce. It focuses on activities and transactions carried on electronic means. It contains all cyber laws.
Online shopping undoubtedly provides you a wider range of all variety of products which are easily accessible. But there are times when you may get a fake product. Sale of counterfeit products or buyers getting fake products has remained a huge drawback of e- shopping. Now-a-days, new techniques have been found to cheat the customer who is shopping online. Online shopping has led to new modes to deceive the customer. You may have heard many cases in the news in which the buyers have made a purchase of a phone and found stones or something else on opening up the package instead of the phone. Not only phones but many items like perfumes, shoes, electronic gadgets, fashion apparel etc., and thus, the customers become victims of online fraud. In this piece we have discussed the remedies available to the customers when they receive a fake item.