E-commerce firms defy govt directives

Delivery delays continue, tricky campaigns still on

Jannatul Islam

13 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Most of the e-commerce companies are yet to implement the government’s latest directives as the platforms are still failing to deliver products to customers within five days in Dhaka and 10 days outside the capital.

Besides, some platforms are selling gift cards and running controversial sales campaigns defying the directives.

The government issued a Gazette notification on Sunday to bring the reckless e-commerce companies under a regulation amid allegations of money laundering and raising working capital taking advance from customers.

In the 3.3.2 section of the directive, the government asked the e-commerce platforms to ensure the delivery of products within five days (for Dhaka) and 10 days (for outside capital) from the time of placing the orders. But it has been found that e-commerce companies including – Evaly.com, Sheshtho.com, Aleshamart.com are running different campaigns with up to 30 days of delivery time defying the government guideline.

In section, 3.1.9, the government asked the e-commerce platforms to avoid selling any kind of gift cards or tokens which represents money. 

However, defying the regulation, Daraz.com is selling gift cards of different foreign services including Amazon, Netflix, and Google Play representing foreign currencies which is a direct violation of the guideline. Evaly has removed the gift card products but the products are still seen on the top of the menu bar.

Regarding the issues, Commerce Ministry Additional Secretary Hafizur Rahman said the government issued the guideline to bring good governance in the e-commerce sector.

“We are observing the activities of the e-commerce outlets. We will provide notices on the issues that conflict with the guideline,” Hafizur, also director general at WTO cell at the ministry, told the Daily Sun.

Talking to a few customers, it has been learnt that the e-commerce outlets are taking 10 per cent advance of the total valuation of products in some cases. However, it takes up to 10 months to refund the money in case of failure to deliver the products.

A Dhaka-based online shopper, requesting not to be named, said he placed an order under the T`10 campaign, the renamed version of the controversial Cyclone Offer at Evaly.

“I placed the order for a smartphone on Evaly on early July 3. I was hoping to get the product in seven days. But there was no response from the company. However, on July 9 (Friday), I found that there is no order in my cart though paying advance money for the product,” he said.

Evaly CEO Mohammad Russel could not be reached for comments despite several attempts on his cell phone.  Shreshtho.com is selling smartphones and electronic appliances through a campaign ahead of Eid ul Azha which asked the customers in Dhaka to wait for 30 days for getting the delivery.

Several banks earlier imposed restrictions on online transactions in favour of ten e-commerce sites.

Industry insiders said the companies run campaigns to collect a large number of orders and then buy the products from the suppliers in bulk. This whole process takes up to 45 days or more. “Now the e-commerce companies should stock the products in the warehouse and then run campaigns. It involves huge investment,” Sirajul Islam Rana, Chief Operating Officer at DhamakaShoping, told the Daily Sun. Regarding the delinking of online transactions; Rana said they will sit with the banks to resolve the issue within three or four days.

Ecommerce Association of Bangladesh (E-Cab) finance secretary Mohammad Abdul Haque said the companies are struggling to cope with the guideline as the regulation is new and we are discussing with the government for possible amendments in some areas.

According to the E-cab, there are over 1,500 e-commerce outlets in the country while thousands of digital commerce ventures are operating through Facebook.