The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has imposed a penalty of Rs 1,00,000 each on e-commerce platforms Paytm Mall and Snapdeal for trading pressure cookers that did not conform to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The websites have been asked to recall the sold items and reimburse the amount paid by the consumers.
Paytm Ecommerce Pvt Ltd (Paytm Mall) and Snapdeal Pvt Ltd sold 39 and 73 domestic pressure cookers respectively which were non-compliant with Domestic Pressure cooker (Quality Control) Order 2020 (QCO). The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade in January 2020 notified this order mandating conformity to IS 2347:2017 standard and the compulsory use of the standard mark for ‘Domestic Pressure Cooker’.
In addition to these, notices have been issued by the CCPA against misleading advertisements by companies. In this regard, a penalty has been imposed on three companies for their misleading advertisements. While 13 firms have withdrawn such advertisements, three have agreed to make a correction.
Pressure cookers of Pristine and Quba were listed on Paytm Mall despite the product description clearly stating that they do not carry an ISI mark. Similarly, Snapdeal sold the products of Saransh Enterprises and AZ Sellers who are also non-compliant with the norms.
What did the CCPA say?
- CCPA has ordered the platforms to notify all the consumers who bought pressure cookers about their poor quality.
- Apart from recalling the pressure cookers sold and reimbursing the prices to consumers, CCPA also asked the platforms to submit a compliance report within 45 days.
- The CCPA, in separate orders, asked both the e-commerce companies to “pay a penalty of Rs 1 lakh for allowing the sale of pressure cookers in violation to the QCO on its platform and violating rights of consumers”, as reported by Business Standard.
- Responding to the companies’ argument that they are intermediaries and are not responsible as per the IT Act, the CCPA cited the consumer protection (e-commerce) rules, 2020 which clearly states that “no e-commerce entity shall adopt any unfair trade practice whether in the course of business or its platform or otherwise”.
- Two safety notices have been issued recently to alert and make consumers cautious against buying household goods like an electric immersion water heater, sewing machine, cooking gas cylinder, helmet and pressure cooker which do not conform to BIS standards.
- Also, an advisory has been issued to industry associations to stop making claims about the effectiveness of their products against coronavirus, if they are not supported by competent and duly authorised scientific advice.
- Any person found selling the household items without conforming to compulsory standards and holding a valid licence as prescribed by BIS shall be liable for the violation of consumer rights and unfair trade practices.
- Based on the provisions of section 17, the person/ group shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend up to two years or with a fine, as per the Ministry for Consumer Affairs.
In response to CCPA, Snapdeal released a statement citing the order was against the IT Act. “We offer a BIS-certified pressure cooker as an immediate replacement to all the customers of the identified sellers, which includes the 73 customers identified in the order. In line with our confirmation to CCPA, the listings of the three sellers have been removed and the sellers have been permanently blocked from the platform,” said CCPA.
(Edited by Ananya Barua)