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Consumer commission imposes Rs 35,000 fine on Amazon, retailer

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The commission has also directed Amazon to provide a foolproof and transparent grievance redressal mechanism to customers

New Delhi: Observing that Amazon does not have an appropriate grievance redressal mechanism and has “one-sided oppressive” sale terms, a consumer commission here has imposed a fine of Rs 35,000 on the online seller and one of its retailers for deficiencies in services.

The commission has also directed Amazon to provide a foolproof and transparent grievance redressal mechanism to customers.

The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (East Delhi) was hearing a complaint from a person for the inordinate delay of around a year and five months in refunding the price of a defective laptop.

The laptop worth Rs 77,990, ordered through Amazon Seller Services Private Limited, was sold by retailer Appario Retail Private Limited, the complaint said, adding that the delay in getting the refund for the product caused the consumer mental agony and harassment.

“This commission is of the firm view that opposite party 1 (Amazon), who accepts orders from customers, places the orders to the third party and concludes the contract once the goods are delivered, is not a simple intermediary,” the commission, headed by president S S Malhotra, said.

The commission, also comprising members Rashmi Bansal and Ravi Kumar, took note of the evidence before it, according to which the refund was initiated “almost after one year and five months after much deliberation by the complainant”.

“It is also established that OP1 does not have an appropriate grievance redressal mechanism and phone numbers of the concerned persons are not provided on its website, which amounts to a deficiency of service on its part. This is also observed from the terms and conditions (titled ‘Conditions of Use’) of OP1 that it has been using one-sided oppressive terms of contract which amounts to unfair trade practice on its part,” the commission said.

As the retailer or second opposite party (OP2) sold a defective product, it was also liable for deficiencies in service, it added.

“OP1 and OP2 are directed to pay compensation to the complainant for its deficient service and unfair trade practice that has caused mental agony and harassment to the complainant to the tune of Rs 35,000,” the commission said in a recent order.

It also asked them to pay Rs 10,000 as litigation costs.

Regarding future sale transactions, the commission directed Amazon “to make the provisions for handing over the receipt of the pick-up item to the customers” to provide a “safe and secure pickup” to the customers.

Amazon was also directed “to display on its site the complete detail of the officers dealing with the grievances of the complainants or customers and provide a foolproof transparent grievance redressal mechanism”.

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