Court sends notice to Amazon on CERC complaint

Press Release

Court sends notice to Amazon on CERC complaint


Complaint is about fake product sold on the e-commerce giant’s portal


Ahmedabad, 7 January 2019

The Ahmedabad District Forum has admitted a complaint filed by Consumer Education and Research Centre, Ahmedabad and its chief general manager, Pritee Shah, against e-commerce company Amazon for sale of a fake product. The court has taken cognizance of the matter and issued a notice to Amazon.

Apart from an individual complaint, the case has also been filed as a class action complaint on behalf of the numerous consumers who received the spurious product.

Ms Shah purchased a pack of two Lakme Eyeconic Kajal from Amazon by making online payment of Rs. 247. On receiving the product, Ms Shah, who had purchased the same item before, observed that the packing and labelling looked different. On detailed scrutiny, she realized that it was a fake. She lodged a complaint with Amazon.  In response, the vendor registered on the Amazon portal, Sublime, sent her a replacement of the genuine item.

Being a vigilant consumer, Ms Shah decided to pursue the matter further. She wanted Amazon to intimate all the other buyers about the fake product they had received. Use of the fake product on the eyes, a sensitive area, could cause serious health issues as its quality was suspect.

Instead of doing that, Amazon sent a misleading message to the buyers offering a replacement without admitting that the product was a fake. Such irresponsible conduct meant that the consumers might continue to use the fake product endangering their eyesight for over two years – the shelf life of the product.

Moreover, Amazon did not take any legal action against Sublime for indulging in the unfair trade practice of selling spurious products. Such inaction would encourage other vendors to indulge in similar malpractices. Ironically, the website of Amazon assures customers of “Genuine products – 100% original”!

CERC contended that Amazon had indulged in an unfair trade practices defined under Section 2(r)(6) of the Consumer Protection Act by misleading the consumers into believing the spurious product supplied by it was a genuine product. Also, the company had committed an offence under Section 27A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

Amazon, in its defence, contended that it is not a seller and thus not responsible for spurious products sold on its website.  However, it is to be noted that Amazon receives the payment directly from the customer.for the products purchased from its portal. In fact, it is the reputation of Amazon which makes people buy products from its portal. It is Amazon that solicits business from customers.

CERC has appealed land sought from the court an order directing Amazon to recall Lakme Eyeconic Kajal and intimate all buyers that the product is a fake. Amazon should also tender a public apology for supplying a spurious product and give a refund to all buyers.

A large number of food products, cosmetics, personal care products and even healthcare products are sold online. Unless Amazon and all e-portals take responsibility for every sale on their portals, consumers will continue to be exposed to unsafe and spurious products. On its part, the government should come out with clear guidelines and policies on e-commerce to protect consumers and ensure they do not get cheated and shortchanged.

What needs to be done

E-commerce companies should take the following steps:

  • Conduct strict pre-vetting of vendors
  • Carry out random checks of products sold on their portals
  • Review customer feedback for products and sellers diligently
  • Impose penalties on sellers who defraud customers
  • Have a voluntary product recall policy
  • Have a consumer alert system in place

For further information please contact

Ms Pritee Shah (O) 079-27489945/46   (M) +91 99048 63838

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