E-com firms back govt. for crackdown on fake reviews

Amazon, Flipkart, Google and Facebook agree on the government's new rules for online shopping reviews.

By  Storyboard18May 16, 2024 10:00 AM
E-com firms back govt. for crackdown on fake reviews
In a statement, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs said that a draft Quality Control Order (QCO) will be placed for public feedback within a prescribed time frame. Prior to this, all stakeholders discussed and welcomed the idea of having a QCO on fake online reviews. (Image source: Unsplash)

Representatives of Flipkart, Amazon, Google, and Meta have backed the government’s proposal to make it mandatory for e-commerce companies to comply with quality norms for consumer reviews. At a meeting on Wednesday, the representatives of major e-commerce players and tech giants including Flipkart, Amazon, Google, and Meta endorsed a proposal that called for making compliance with standards on “online consumer reviews”, released in 2022, compulsory.

The developments came to pass during a stakeholder consultation organised by the Department of Consumer Affairs in New Delhi on the protection of consumer interest from online fake reviews. Chaired by consumer affairs secretary Nidhi Khare, the meeting was also attended by representatives of industry bodies, consumer organisations, law experts, and activists.

In a statement, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs said that a draft Quality Control Order (QCO) will be placed for public feedback within a prescribed time frame. Prior to this, all stakeholders discussed and welcomed the idea of having a QCO on fake online reviews.

“The discussion on moving towards a Quality Control Order for IS 19000:2022 was welcomed by stakeholders and there was a general consensus among all stakeholders that the issue of fake reviews is important to protect consumer interest while shopping online, and requires to be closely monitored. The Draft Quality Control Order will be placed for public consultation for submitting comments within a prescribed time frame,” the statement added.

Earlier this week, Khare pulled up e-commerce platforms saying fake reviews are rampant on their sites despite the Centre notifying voluntary standards on “online reviews’ in late-2022. She also hinted about making it mandatory platforms to comply with quality consumer review norms to curb fake reviews.

Now that consensus among platforms has emerged, it is to be noted that as per government data, e-commerce-related grievances registered on the National Consumer Helpline surged 366% between 2018 to 2023. As per government data, the complaints increased from 95,270 in 2018 to 4.44 Lakh (43% of total) in 2023.

In December last year, the Department of Consumer Affairs issued guidelines on dark patterns and warned e-commerce platforms against using such deceptive practices in their user interface. This is not the first time that e-commerce platforms have landed in the crosshairs of authorities. Earlier this year, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) reportedly directed quick commerce platforms to prove their ‘10 minute’ delivery claims.

First Published on May 16, 2024 10:00 AM

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