E-commerce policy to ensure consumer privacy, rights

Staff Correspondent

7 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

E-commerce companies have to offer timely service ensuring privacy of customers’ information.

The government has released a guideline for the e-commerce companies in Bangladesh.

Ministry of Commerce unveiled the directive to implement the National Digital Commerce Policy-2020. The guideline was released officially through a virtual event on Tuesday. The companies can’t practice multi-level marketing using the e-commerce platforms.

They will also not be allowed to offer any kind of gift cards or token money in the e-commerce sites without permission from the Bangladesh Bank, the guideline said.

In case of violation of the directives, the market places will face penalties including cancelation of company registration and tax identity, it said.

The companies will also face prosecution under the existing laws of the land. The directive comes after an investigation of Bangladesh Bank revealed   that a group of e-commerce companies hold customer’s money without product delivery while some platforms are introducing digital money without permission of the central bank.

In terms of data privacy, the e-commerce companies should obtain permission from buyer to use personal information before placing order.

The e-commerce platforms have to deliver products or services within 5 days of placing orders within the city and 10 days for outside the place the company is located.

The customers must be informed about the availability of products through phone calls, emails or any other communication formats.

The e-commerce companies cannot also force any customer to buy another product from the platform instead of the originally ordered, according to the guideline.

Officials mentioned the guideline aims to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of digital commerce.

It will also enable the new entrepreneurs through building fair competition in the marketplace.

This is also expected to increase consumers’ confidence.

Organizations will have to clearly state the terms of sale, return policy and exchange of goods or services on the website of the organization or on the marketplace. 

According to the CCA Foundation, more than 11.48 percent of customers of the e-commerce sector were deceived last year by various e-commerce sites. The deception on Facebook platforms was 7.44 percent in 2019.

Multi-level marketing or network business cannot be conducted through digital commerce while the drugs, explosives or any other prohibited items cannot be bought or sold digitally without permission of respective authorities, said the directive.

In case of the taking advance from customers, the e-commerce companies can charge maximum 10 percent of total value, the guideline cited.

Otherwise the companies should avail the screw service of Bangladesh Bank.

In first week of April, the Daily Sun ran a report focusing that e-commerce companies lack a specific guideline for their operation amidst huge growth during last one year in pandemic.