Safeguards against online shopping irregularities in Bangladesh

Online Shopping Irregularities
Legal Remedies against Online Shopping Irregularities

ABSTRACT:

The growing trend of online shopping has overtaken the popularity of traditional shopping system among it’s consumers in recent decades. In the world of digitization it has eased the difficulties of retailing and paved a modern approach to expand business. People are now able to conduct their business or trade activities in the blink of an eye through the blessings of online shopping. Even in Bangladesh online shopping is now an ever growing phenomenon in our day to day life. Every business sector and company is trying their best to comply with the new idea of e-shopping to make more profitable income. Moreover with the ever growing number of internet users and low cost of internet, online shopping is fast becoming the focal point for every business hub. But sometimes buyers as well as sellers fall a victim to some unwanted situations. They get unnecessarily harassed using this modern way of shopping. Being a new concept of trading system, no specific legal protection is available for aggrieved party. Rather the existing traditional legal procedures are applied to mitigate problems relating to online shopping system of Bangladesh. This study has a comprehensive perspective and provides a bird’s eye view of the online shopping irregularities and available remedies in Bangladesh. The study also provides an effort to understand what rights are available for customers in case of online shopping system in Bangladesh.

INTRODUCTION:

The popularity of online shopping can be deduced by amazing success story of Amazon.com, Inc. It is the second most valuable public company in the world, only behind Apple[1]. Even in Bangladesh the popularity of online shopping is growing by the day. So every business and company is trying to enter this market place to introduce, grow and sustain in this highly competitive market of economy. One study by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission shows that as of January, 2018 about 80.829 million people are using internet in our country[2]. Online shopping or e-shopping is such kind of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the internet using a web browser.[3] Consumers can easily find their choice of product by visiting the website of the retailer or by searching among alternative vendors using a shopping search engine which displays the same product’s availability and pricing at different e-retailers.[4] In recent times, online marketing has secured its place as the preferred marketing method.

RECENT GROWTH OF ONLINE SHOPPING IN BANGLADESH:

In Bangladesh, online shopping concept has added a new feature to our day to day life. As a new idea it has gained much popularity through the e-commerce protocol of government. It is reported that every year in the country about 1.5 to 2 million people shop online.[5] And every year online sales and purchase is increasing by 15% to 20%.[6] There are a number of free classified websites and online shopping marketplaces in Bangladesh like Ekhanei.com, Bikroy.com, Kaymu, Rokomari.com, Othoba.com etc. As internet speed got accelerated with the accession of ‘WiMax’ technology it helped to boost up online business in the mean time.[7] We saw some major investments during the recent years, companies like Ajkerdeal, Rokomari, Akhoni [now Bagdoom] etc. started their operation as well.[8] Besides regional movement, foreign investors got some serious attention with e-com. For example: Olx, Bikroy, Daraz, Kaymu etc. Bangladesh has seen the first ever e-commerce platform named ‘GHOORI’ from a local company called ‘Chorki Limited’ in the year of 2016.[9]  Now Ghoori has more than 3000 small merchants under a single integrated platform.[10] Online marketplace concept was initiated in 2012/13 by Akhoni and Ajkerdeal. In 2017 Kaymu merged with Daraz for investing a huge amount of money in marketing for quick sales.[11] Rokomari.com, one of the most renowned brand for online shopping has proven a flourishing business model by selling books of 1 crore in their very first journey of 1 year.[12] Now Rokomari has expanded their business in various categories and has set up it’s position in an up ranking stage along with other brands of online shopping. In the mean time, Bikroy .com has become a reliable brand for buying and selling consumer items in online shopping sector. Remarkable development in delivery industry has been via online sites.   

Food delivery services like Hungrinaki, Food panda, Foodmart started their operation in 2013 [might be 2014] and doing amazing at present.[13] We have sheba.xyz, who are shaping the service industry using online channels. Nonetheless, consumers can easily do their grocery shopping through online websites like Chaldal.com .They are the only company who has silicon valley investment and we hope they will change the shopping experience as a whole for our country within a short span of time. In 2016, Pran as big FMCG started their e-commerce journey as Othoba. Brands like BTI, Transcom, ACI [Swapno], Epyllion, Meenabazar etc. are expecting to launch their online sales center very soon.[14]

ONLINE SHOPPING IRREGULARITIES:

The concept of online shopping is getting so handy all through the country but sometimes people have to face problems as well. Both buyers and sellers suffer from unwanted hindrances. General people have not become that much expertise in this field. Service of faulty products, false or misleading advertisements, unsatisfactory service, over claiming price, unavailability of product, refusing in refund conditions, cyber security of  personal information  etc issues often arise in the field of online shopping. Often customers got themselves trapped by fake advertisements of product and they fall a victim of cheating. Being aggrieved, the party can’t even understand where and how to get remedy as online marketing procedure is a new concept in Bangladesh so far, until now no relevant individual law regarding this aspect has been established. 

AVAILABLE REMEDIES FOR ONLINE SHOPPERS:

There is no precise available legal mechanisms in Bangladesh to redress the grievance of suffered people. No individual or separate law is declared by the lawmakers of our country for online shopping irregularities. Our traditional existing codes and laws are used in this respect. A brief idea of relevant laws which is used to mitigate online shopping related issues is given below:

      1. The Contract act 1872

Online shopping system involve contracts between buyer and seller. The traditional terms and conditions of a contract will be applied to these online contracts but with extra complications. To elaborate, the parties involved may have never met and may sometimes not even realize that they are contracting and they may reside in different countries as well. When a buyer clicks on an ‘I Agree’ or ‘Purchase’ button on a website they are effectively agreeing to a contract. Breach of a Contract occurs when one party fails to perform his or her obligations under the contract or intimates that they will not perform them. The aggrieved party can seek compensation for loss or damage caused by breach of contract.[15] Compensation can claim for failure to discharge obligation resembling those created by contract.[16] 

      2. The Penal Code, 1860

The Penal Code 1860, one of the oldest statutes of the land contain some provisions ensuring the buyer’s right which can be applied in respect of online shopping irregularities. Buyer can seek remedy for offences relating to weights and measures under this law. Sometimes it is seen that seller try to get more financial profit in their business by deceiving buyer. They take the tricky policy to cheat the buyer by delivering products in less quantity than the actual stipulated measures. Offences relating to  fraudulent use of false instrument for weighing, fraudulent use of weight or measure, being in possession of false weight or measure, making or selling false weight or measure have been made punishable both in terms of fine and imprisonment.[17]Applying such provisions of law the rights of online customers to get their product in stipulated quantity can be safeguarded. 

      3. The Sale of Goods Act, 1930

 The Sale of Goods Act,1930 governs the contract relating to sale of goods. Certain difficulties relating to online shopping system can be mitigated through this law. According to this law if the seller delivers any goods less in quantity as he contracted to sell, the buyer may reject the product.[18]Even if the seller wrongfully neglects or refuse to deliver any product the buyer may sue for damages for non delivery.[19] For breach of any warranty by the seller the buyer can sue for damages or reduce the price of the goods but where any condition is breached the buyer may reject the goods.[20] Through the statute of sale of goods act, the rights of an online seller can be ensured. Here if a buyer fails to take delivery of the products and fail to pay the price wrongfully then the seller can sue for recovery of price and damages.[21]

      4. The Special Powers Act,1974

In order to penalize for adulterated food, drinks, dugs or cosmetics the law of special powers act,1974 can be enforced. According to this act any  seller who adulterates any article of food or drink to sell such item;  or sell, offer, expose any product which has been rendered or has become noxious or in such a state which is unfit for health or adulterates any drug or medical preparation and sell them to buyer will be punished with death penalty or with life imprisonment or with rigorous imprisonment for fourteen years. The offender will also be charged with fine.[22] Not only that, if a seller adulterates or sell or offers any cosmetic products  (like hair oil, toilet soap) for sale which is harmful for skin, complexion or any part of body shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with fine.[23]These same provisions will be applicable in respect of online shopping system.

      5. Standard of weights and measures ordinance,1982

This law was enacted to make provision for the establishment of standards of weights and measures based on the metric system and units of measurement and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The law inter-alia, provides penalty for use of nonstandard weights or measures which may amount to three thousand taka or six months of imprisonment.[24] This law can be used in order to give remedy in respect of online shopping system where products are not sold in standard form of weights and measures.

      6. The Bangladesh standard and Testing Institution Ordinance,1985

The  BSTI Ordinance provides for the establishment of an institution for standardization, testing, metrology, quality, control, grading and marketing of goods. Section 30-32 protects certain rights of consumers by bringing some offences like improper use of standard mark, disregard of export or sale restrictions within the ambit of law. Such ordinance can be used to control online shopping irregularities in a befitting manner.

      7. The Trade Mark Act, 2009

Section 71-78 of the trade mark act are designed to suppress certain unfair trade practices relating to trade marks which have the tendency to deceive consumers. Remedies can be sought under these provisions against falsifying and falsely applying trademarks ,selling and using false trade names, misrepresentation of trademarks etc. Sometimes many online sites try to cheat buyer by selling replica products or fake products using the name of a famous brand. Seller use original trade marks upon cheap quality products to get profit. Such kind of offences can be remedied though the trade mark act,2009.

      8. The Consumer Protection Act,2009

This statute provides protection of consumer rights and also prevent any acts against consumer right and interest. The Act mainly deals with the obligations of “economic operators” and products safety. It enjoins state organs to punish the offenses of economic operators who violate consumer rights and interests.. The CRPA, 2009 also sets out comprehensive procedures to be followed by inspection agents to ensure the quality and safety of products (goods and services). It also allows for the establishment of a specialized institution to be in charge of fraud repression and inspections of imported and exported goods.According to this act complaint can be filled against the seller of the product or the service provider. Here seller of the product includes the producer, manufacturer, supplier and wholesaler or retailer of the product. Here the following grounds are taken under consideration to file a complaint –

  • When any product, service or medicine is sold or being sold at a rate more than the fixed rate,
  • When any adulterated product or medicine is sold or being sold knowingly,
  • When any food product mixed with materials injurious to health is sold or being sold,
  • Using of false and untrue statements in advertisement in order to deceive the buyers,
  • Non-delivery or supply of any product or service after payment,
  • Providing under weight or short measured product,
  • Use of such weight, instrument for weighing or yardstick tape by any seller which displays less than the perfect weight or measure,
  • Manufacturing or producing the false medicine,
  • When any expired medicine or product is sold or being sold.
  • When any defective product or unsatisfactory service is provided.

Two types of solutions can be obtained in case of offenses against consumer rights. They are – criminal remedy (imprisonment, fine) ,civil remedy (obtaining compensation).The CRPA, 2009 is highly recommendable for the protection of online shopping rights. Here buyer can get relief in form of exchange of defective goods, compensation for injury, reimbursement of product price, imposing fine etc. Section 40-51 of the act can used to give remedy to the aggrieved buyer of online shopping system of Bangladesh.

      9. Information and Communication Technology Act,2006

Online shopping system sometimes contain  cyber threat. At the time of shopping, online sites record customer’s necessary information like name, address, phone number, bank details, electronic information etc. It paves a way to hamper buyer’s security. ICT Act,2006 can help the suffered buyer to get rid out  of this problem. It provides appropriate punishment for offences relating to virtual world. The act states some activities as cyber crime such as-illegal access, illegal data collection, intentionally obstructing computer system, spamming and unwanted mails etc.

CONCLUSION:

Being a developing country, Bangladesh is trying harder to keep pace with the modern changing world. Here online shopping concept is increasing day by day in e-commerce sector. But it’s initiative is not that much wider than other developed and developing nearby countries. Bangladesh has lots of possibilities to patronize such system in trade and commerce. In order to achieve its desired prospect greater initiatives and practical knowledge should be implemented. All kinds of difficulties in respect of online shopping system should be wiped out. Government should make people aware about what rights are available in respect of online shopping system. Existing laws should be applied to give remedy for online shopping disputes. There should enact separate new laws for this field only.



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_public_corporations_by_market_capitalization#Publicly_traded_companies

[2] http://www.btrc.gov.bd/content/internet-subscribers-bangladesh-january-2018

[3] Wikipedia. Available at: https//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/online shopping.

[4] Ibid

[5] Shah,J.,2014.Prothom Alo ,Bangladesh[online].Available at: http://en.prothom

alo.com/Bangladesh/news/57411/online-shopping-increases

[6] Shah,J.,2014.Prothom Alo ,Bangladesh[online].Available at: http://en.prothom

   alo.com/Bangladesh/news/57411/online-shopping-increases

[7] Moslem,R.,2017.Linked in.[online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brief-history-e-commerce-bangladesh-rashed-moslem

[8] Ibid

[9] Moslem,R.,2017.Linked in.[online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brief-history-e-commerce-bangladesh-rased-moslem

[10] Ibid

[11] Moslem,R.,2017.Linked in.[online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brief-history-e-commerce-bangladesh-rased-moslem

[12] ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Moslem,R.,2017. Linked in[online] Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/brief-history-e-commerce-bangladesh-rashed-moslem

[15] The Contract Act,1872 ;sec-73

[16] Ibid

[17] The Penal Code,1860; sec: 264-267

[18] The Sale of Goods Act,1930; sec-37(1)

[19] The Sale of Goods Act,1930; sec-57

[20] The Sale of Goods Act,1930; sec-59

[21] The Sale of Goods Act,1930; sec-55,57

[22] The Special Powers Act,1974; sec-25c(1)

[23] The Special Powers Act,1974; sec-25c(2)

[24] Standard of weights and measure ordinance,1982 sec-32

The following two tabs change content below.
Arifa Afroz Smriti

Arifa Afroz Smriti

A Law Graduate of University of Rajshahi, Arifa Afroz Smriti has also completed her LL.M. from the same. Currently, she is working as a lecturer at Primeasia University. She can be reached at aasriti@gmail.com
Arifa Afroz Smriti

Latest posts by Arifa Afroz Smriti (see all)

Arifa Afroz Smriti

Arifa Afroz Smriti

A Law Graduate of University of Rajshahi, Arifa Afroz Smriti has also completed her LL.M. from the same. Currently, she is working as a lecturer at Primeasia University. She can be reached at aasriti@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *