Despite e-retail and logistic startups receiving significant investment and adoption in the last decade, fraud deliveries continue to rise in the country with consumers left with a bad taste in the mouth, left with nothing but a wrong product or a fake in exchange for their hard-earned money. “Recently, I came across a case where a consumer received a fake smartphone whose market price was over Rs 50,000.
The sheer ignorance and refusal to accept responsibility from the e-retailer in this instance was appalling. E-tailers need to understand that the e-commerce consumers of today are much more aware than they were a decade ago, and are quickly able to recognize that they have been defrauded,” said Praveen Sinha Jabong Co-Founder. Most consumers who have had a bad experience in e-commerce will never return, thus costing business not just to the e-tailer but other players in the industry.
How do these deliveries go wrong?
There are several reasons as to why these deliveries go wrong. We spoke to a few industry insiders and got the following reasons as the primary areas of concern:
- Collusion between dispatch and logistics departments – The dispatch department knows what each package contains and tip off the logistics department on which packages contain valuable items. The delivery guy opens the package on duty and replaces the valuable item with a fake.
- Delivery boys dealing with underground markets -There are some specialized Markets (like some pockets in Gaffar Market) that have specialized hawkers who are experts in removing brand packaging and replacing original items with fake ones. In the case of smartphones, they would also flash a whole new IMEI and the phone will not be traceable.
- Consumers themselves can be the culprit at times – Some consumers themselves switch items and play the victim adding to the woes of the system.
What options do the consumers have when wronged by an e-commerce retailer?
E-tailers all over the world have several consumer protection policies at place but, how often are the consumers compensated and what are the options they have if the e-tailer provides no resolution?
Here are some steps consumers can take –
- Always try to be physically present at the time of delivery to inspect the package upon arrival
- If cheated, raise complaints through the social media pages of the e-tailer if the customer care is unresponsive. “E-tailers are extra conscious of their online image and always have a team monitoring complaints on the internet”, adds Praveen Sinha.
- File an FIR and then go to the consumer court. Under the Consumer Protection Act, many cheated consumers have been able to get refunds and even extra compensation from e-tailers.
With the pandemic now changing the way millions of people shop around the world, the demand for e-retail services will only go up. In India, where the demand is going to be huge and a lot of new consumers enter the space, there is a risk of many consumers getting cheated in the process. “Every e-tailer should take steps to protect their consumers and help in spreading awareness among their consumers. There should be a concerted effort to protect consumers and offer swift solutions to their complaints. The e-tailers who adhere to best practices will emerge the most profitable in the long run”, concludes Praveen Sinha.