Top e-portals blatantly violate labelling rules, reveals CERC survey

PRESSNOTE-14/E&R/March 18
Press Release

Top e-portals blatantly violate labelling rules, reveals CERC survey

On the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day, CERC urges Govt. to formulate regulations for product return to protect online shoppers

Ahmedabad, 14 March 2018

The theme for World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2018 that falls on 15 March, set by Consumers International (CI) is ‘Making Digital Marketplaces Fairer’. Digital marketplaces or e-commerce has transformed the way in which many of us shop. But there are two key challenges to overcome to make e-commerce work for consumers – access and trust.

However, a recent online survey by Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad has revealed how mandatory labelling requirements and peoples’ trust are being violated by leading e-commerce portals.

The consumer affairs ministry made amendments to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, vide Notification No. GSR 629(E) of 23 June 2017. The new regulations came into force with effect from January 1, 2018 and made it mandatory for e-commerce firms to display the maximum retail price (MRP) of goods along with other mandatory label information on their websites.

The CERC survey, which was conducted across product categories of food, toys, household items and shoes on popular e-commerce portals like Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart and Bigbasket, revealed serious gaps.

  • MRP not shown on labels of pre-packaged products on leading e-portals: None of the portals surveyed carried images of any product which displayed the product label showing MRP. Where an image/picture of the label was available on the portal websites, it showed the printed word ‘MRP’ with a blank space after it. Unless product label image showing MRP is displayed on the portal, the consumer cannot compare if the MRP displayed by the portal is correct or not. Portals can show MRPs which are incorrect without the customer finding out till later.


  • MRP variation huge from portal to portal for same product: It was seen in some instances that the MRP for the same product was different on different portals. To illustrate, the product Figaro Olive Oil Tin 500 gm showed MRP of Rs 495 on Amazon and MRP of Rs 700 on Snapdeal. How can the same pre-packaged product have different MRPs on different portals?


  • For food products, no manufacturing date and use before/best before/expiry date on e-portals: This is a violation of mandatory labelling requirements of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). None of the portals surveyed carry images of actual product label showing date of manufacture and use before/best before/expiry dates although this is mandatory and essential for food products. The portal pages also did not carry these details for food products. The consumer has no way of knowing while shopping if the food product they buy has adequate usable life.

In the light of these findings, we have sent a representation to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (MoCA) on the occasion of WCRD, urging it to institute a system to monitor compliance of labelling regulations, especially display of MRP, on all e-commerce portals and to have stringent enforcement mechanisms for the same.

Representation on Product Returns

As far as trust goes, another big factor is the ease with which one can return an item bought online and obtain a replacement or refund. The item may be defective, fake, substandard, not matching the seller’s description or not satisfactory to the consumer in some other way. That is why, on the occasion of WCRD, CERC has sent a representation to MoCA on the subject.

We are requesting MoCA to issue mandatory regulations to e-commerce companies on product returns/replacements/refunds to protect online shoppers. The presence of a regulatory framework will instil confidence and trust in consumers and encourage them to buy online. It will prevent e-commerce companies from getting away with unfair practices. Regulations will ensure that the consumers’ right to safe and quality goods and right to redress are protected.

Some of the specific points CERC’s representation makes are:

  • Provision should be made by e-commerce companies to collect the goods from customers at their own cost.
  • For any product that carries a warranty, there should be proper linkage with the manufacturer who should be made to honour the terms of the warranty.
  • If goods require service attention, the portal should take responsibility for this so that the consumer is not inconvenienced.
  • While refunding the amount, the customer should be asked about his or her preference for mode of payment.
  • The redressal mechanism should be accessible, responsive and efficient.
  • It should be mandatory for all e-commerce companies to display details of the redressal mechanism on their websites.

WCRD activities at CERC

CERC is celebrating World Consumer Rights Day 2018 from 13 to 15 March with a host of activities. On 13 March, community puppet shows were held in Juhapura to familiarise the audience about consumer rights and responsibilities as well as e-commerce, digital payment modes and online frauds.

On 14 March, students of F.D. Girls High School visited the CERC premises in Thaltej. The students were informed about the WCRD theme and the aim of consumer organisations to promote digital marketplaces that are more accessible, safe and fair to consumers. They were also told about CERC’s mediation activities.  Brochures in Gujarati on online shopping, digital banking and cashless transactions were distributed.

On 15 March, a drawing and slogan writing competition will be conducted for 40 students of 10 schools. The topics were (i) Online Shopping (ii) Consumer Protection (iii) Say No to Plastics and (iv) Be Environment-friendly. The schools that will participate are -  National High School, D.P. High School, My Own High School, Nalanda High School (both English and Gujarati), Skum, Girdharnagar High School,  Kasturba Gandhi Vidhyalay, F.D Girls High School and Suraj Hindi High School.

For further information please contact

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

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