E-commerce and Consumer Safety
Just a Little Care and Discipline Are Needed
E-commerce (e-com) has become all-pervasive and our day-to-day lives are fully governed by e- transactions – be it simple SMS alerts of our banking transactions, our online banking transactions, Internet-based ticket bookings, or e-shopping. Thankfully, there is absolutely no need to be scared of e-com; use it to your heart’s content as long as you follow a few basic precautions.
E-com is growing at a phenomenal pace due to its convenience and cost optimization – so much so that today more than 50 per cent airline bookings are done online. Yet, as with every other convenience, growing popularity has also brought along safety/security issues. Complaints like non-delivery of goods/services, poor quality and payment frauds are being received in ever-increasing numbers.
E-com can be broadly categorized into three verticals:
Online store of goods/services like IRCTC, homeshop18, indiatimes
Online auctions/bidding sites like auctions.snapbid.in, dealite.in
Online marketplace for buyers and sellers like Rediff shopping, tradus.com
Online consolidators/facilitators of goods/services like makemytrip, junglee.com
The banking and online payment sites normally involve only one entity for transactions and follow strict due diligence in securing their sites and transactions carried out on their sites. From the consumer’s perspective, these sites are relatively secure/protected and a minimum of discipline on the part of consumers will protect his interest.
Stocks/Commodity trading sites involve three entities: namely the stock exchange/broker, the stockholding company, and the bank. These transactions are called close-ended. All these entities also take due care to protect their sites and transactions, and since all three entities are simultaneously involved (real-time transactions), transactions are tallied instantly and the risk to consumer is minimized. Hence, no consumer issues related to the e-commerce aspect are reported in this domain.
It’s a somewhat different ballgame for the commonly understood e-com sites (sites engaged in buying/selling/auction of goods or services). These are relatively unsecure and happen to be the biggest source of consumer concerns.
The range of consumer complaints includes:
To mitigate risks and to make e-commerce the happy experience it is designed to be, only a few precautions and basic discipline are needed.
STEP 1: Preliminary verification
Step 2: During usage
Step3: After completion of transaction
with your records
with the receiver in case of money transfer
with your demat a/c, brokerage, bank for share transactions
with SMS/email for bank transactions
with SMS/email received for payments made for e-shopping from bank as well as e-shopping site
with physical receipt of goods/services ordered for e-shopping
Please do not be scared of online transactions. Just be alert, careful and disciplined. E-commerce is meant to be consumer-friendly and most convenient. So, let us make it so.