On Friday, the consumer affairs ministry, in collaboration with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), will hold a virtual meeting with stakeholders, including e-commerce companies, to discuss the prevalence of fake reviews on their platforms, which mislead consumers into purchasing online products and services.
The focus of the discussions will be on the impact of fraudulent and misleading reviews on customers, as well as possible preventative actions, according to a statement from the ministry.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh has written to all stakeholders, including e-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon, Tata Sons, Reliance Retail, and others, as well as consumer forums, law schools, lawyers, the FICCI, the CII, consumer rights activists, and others, inviting them to attend the meeting.
The secretary of state has shared the findings of an EU-wide study of online customer evaluations from 223 key websites with stakeholders.
The screening results show that at least 55% of the websites violate the EU’s unfair business practises directive, which requires consumers to be given accurate information in order to make an informed decision.
With the rise in internet and smartphone use, the secretary stated in the letter that people are increasingly purchasing online goods and services.
‘Given that e-commerce involves a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity to physically view or examine the product, consumers heavily rely on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms to see the opinion and experience of users who have already purchased the goods or service’, he said, adding that as a result of fraudulent and misleading reviews, the consumer right under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, is being violated.
‘Since the issue impacts people shopping online on a daily basis and has a significant impact on their rights as a consumer, it is important that it is examined with greater scrutiny and detail’, the secretary added.