Online shopping

Fake reviews on online shopping sites come under the government scanner

The Department of Consumer Affairs and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will hold a virtual meeting on Friday with stakeholders including e-commerce entities to discuss the scope of fake reviews on their platforms, which encourages consumers to buy products and services online. The purpose of the meeting is to prepare a roadmap for the future. Discussions will largely be based on the impact of false and misleading reviews on consumers and possible measures to prevent such an anomaly, the ministry said in a statement.

Consumer Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh wrote to all stakeholders: E-commerce entities like Flipkart, Amazon, Son of Tata, Addiction Retail and others, in addition to consumer forums, law schools, lawyers, FICCICII, consumer rights activists, etc. to participate in the meeting.

The Secretary alerted stakeholders to the results of an EU-wide review of online consumer reviews on 223 major websites.

The results of the review highlight that at least 55% of websites violate the EU’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which requires that truthful information be presented to consumers to make an informed choice.

Furthermore, on 144 of the 223 websites checked, authorities could not confirm that merchants made sufficient efforts to ensure that the reviews were authentic, i.e. if they were published by consumers who had actually used the reviewed product or service, the statement said.

The secretary said in the letter that consumers are increasingly buying goods and services online with increasing use of the internet and smartphones.

“Since e-commerce involves a virtual shopping experience without any opportunity to physically see or examine the product, consumers rely heavily on reviews posted on e-commerce platforms for opinion and opinion. experience of users who have already purchased the good or service,” he said.

As a result, due to false and misleading reviews, the right to be informed, which is a consumer right under the Consumer Protection Act 2019, is violated, he added.

“Given that the issue affects people who shop online on a daily basis and has a significant impact on their rights as a consumer, it is important that it be examined in greater detail and attention,” the secretary added.