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Complaints on govt helpline: Ecommerce faces the bulk of consumer bricks & mortars

One in every five complaints filed on the helpline was against an e-commerce company.

Updated: Nov 16, 2019, 12.22 PM IST
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Of over half a million complaints filed so far in this financial year, more than 100,000 were against ecommerce firms.
NEW DELHI: E-commerce companies led by Flipkart topped the list of consumer complaints received on the government’s national helpline, which was set up to help resolve their grievances.

One in every five complaints filed on the helpline was against an e-commerce company, with Flipkart on top, according to data from the consumer affairs ministry. Besides e-commerce, banking and telecom attracted large numbers of grievances.

Flipkart, Reliance Jio and Amazon and a public-sector bank are among the companies that figure at the top, an official said.

A Flipkart spokesperson said the company has a well-defined and continuously improving programme to help customers and address their grievances promptly.

“We endeavour to guide our new customers on how to navigate the Flipkart app, policies and terms and conditions. We also undertake several consumer education programmes that focus on driving awareness on safe e-commerce transactions,” the spokesperson said.

Flipkart said its marketplace delivers almost 30 crore shipments a year to millions of customers throughout the country.

"Simultaneously, being a marketplace, we work closely with lakhs of our sellers/MSMEs on our marketplace to train them to ensure a better experience for our customers and by helping them focus on the quality of products."

An Amazon spokesperson said the company works closely with the government consumer helpline desk to resolve complaints.

“We are committed to resolving all customer concerns expeditiously, including those received through the ministry of consumer affairs,” the spokesperson said.

ET’s emailed query to a Reliance Jio spokesperson remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

Of over half a million complaints filed so far in this financial year, more than 100,000 were against e-commerce companies. There were 41,600 complaints against banks, followed by telecom with 29,400 complaints. In the previous financial year, e-commerce companies accounted for over 100,000 of the 565,000 complaints filed.

“The consumer base of e-commerce has gone up significantly and so has the number of complaints. This year, we are likely to see a 40-50% spurt in number of grievances from last year, with four months still left,” the official said.

The ministry official said most complaints against ecommerce companies pertained to spurious products, problems in exchange and delayed delivery, while grievances against telecom companies were related to overbilling, data deduction and connectivity problems.

“We have seen in many cases, a customer orders online for a cell phone but ends up receiving bricks or stones in the packet. Customers are duped like this,” the official said.

The growing levels of dissatisfaction among consumers has promoted the government to firm up its grievance redressal mechanism. The ministry launched a mobile app last month to help consumers register their complaints easily and get redressal within 60 days.

Upon receiving a complaint, the consumer affairs ministry forwards it to the company concerned, seeking resolution in a time-bound manner.

The government also recently rolled out draft rules to keep a check on e-commerce companies by requiring them to display the details of sellers including the identity of their business, legal name, principal geographic address, name of website, email address and contacts details on the website.

Every e-tailer firm must provide the name of its grievance officer who will respond to complaints within a month. The ministry has sought feedback and suggestions from stakeholders by December 2 before finalising the rules.

“Companies are responding well. Last year, out of 565,000 complaints, we were able to resolve 555,000. This year also, we would be able to redress most of these grievances,” said another official. “If the consumer is still not satisfied with the resolution, we ask them to approach consumer forums located in their respective cities.”
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