Amid growing impact of digital platforms in the country, the Ministry of Commerce on Sunday issued operational guidelines for the e-commerce sector to empower consumers and protect their rights.
According to the new guidelines, an agreement must take place between the marketplace authority and the seller or merchant before the sale of goods or services through the marketplace.
During an online programme on Tuesday, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said the guidelines have clear directions on how information on products and services should be clearly mentioned by marketplaces, as well as that on product delivery and advance payments.
He also told the reporters that the new guidelines will hopefully help customers.
As per guidelines, products presented online to the buyers should have a clear description for the consumer to have a realistic idea of what they are buying.
Besides, the terms and conditions regarding the purchase of the product, such as return policies, potential price change policies, delivery method and time, or product change policies should also be displayed by marketplaces.
Digital marketplaces will also need to display detailed information of sellers or merchants, i.e., third-party users providing goods or services online.
Regarding the new e-commerce guidelines, Vice President of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) Sahab Uddin Shipon said it brings e-commerce operations under closer scrutiny by the government.
He also said the objective of the guidelines is to ensure transparency and accountability, and consumer protection in digital commerce operations by creating employment through the expansion of digital business, and to take measures in boosting consumer confidence and rights by bringing discipline in digital business operations.
Sahab Uddin Shipon hoped it would help create new entrepreneurs by building a competitive market system.
The guidelines protects sellers against bad market practices as digital businesses have to clear merchant payments within 10 days of product delivery, he added.
According to the guideline, marketplace authorities will have to take appropriate action for complaints about products and services and appoint a compliance officer who can coordinate with other agencies, including the Department of Consumer Protection.
The authorities will take legal action against the marketplace in case of failure to comply with the instructed guideline.
However, the Commerce Ministry urged consumers to lodge any rights violations with the National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate and other courts for legal redressal and e-CAB will assist the authorities.
The guideline also directs to use “Available for Delivery” instead of the quantity of stock and prohibits marketplace or sellers to manipulate comments from buyers about products or services that should be posted on websites, apps, or platforms.
Furthermore, the new guideline has provided directives for perishable goods to be delivered as soon as possible and prohibited the sale of expired or adulterated goods.
If there is any special software or cookies on the seller’s website, the buyer needs to be informed in advance, the guidelines say.
As per the guidelines, if any personal information needs to be collected the consumer’s prior consent must be obtained stating what information will be collected, where the information will be stored, and how it will be used.
Digital marketplaces have been asked to get at least one trade licence that has to be displayed in the marketplace or social media page. A Unique Business Identification Number (UBIN) will be made mandatory for all digital commerce organizations in phases as per the guideline.
Market places will have to collect a licence from the Department of Drug Administration for the purchase and sale of medicines and medical supplies through digital means.
A certificate from a quality controlling authority also needs to be obtained in all cases where there is an obligation.
The guidelines also say, foreign marketplaces have to obtain a local licence.
According to the country e-commerce business people, the move will help ensure more accountability for digital marketplaces and sellers.
BDST: 1426 HRS, JUL 08, 2021