The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and senior management of the online marketing companies had a meeting on March 15, 2018 to commemorate 2018 World Consumer Rights Day, which has “Making the Digital Marketplaces Fairer” as its theme.
The meeting focused on the current consumer experience in the online shopping marketplace. The particular concern that was the subject of discussion was protecting consumers as well as protecting legitimate and responsible online marketing companies and their brands. Both the Council and the online marketing companies agreed that only a robust, ethical and well regulated industry can promote consumer confidence and eliminate distrust; prevent fraud and market entry by those who seek to exploit and defraud. Parties also recognize that technological disruption and innovation remain a vital catalyst for economic expansion, commercial penetration and shared prosperity. As such, the Council and online marketing companies acknowledged that clear and transparent guiding principles, guidance and a regulatory framework are important to growing and sustaining a vibrant E-commerce industry. The Council and the online marketing companies adopted certain guiding principles with respect to E-commerce. These principles are:
- Online marketers recognise that a dedicated customer service apparatus, which is an indispensable corollary of e-commerce, is required to ensure engagement and a complaint resolution process which is not burdensome to the customer.
- Online market platforms recognise the importance of full frank and complete disclosures of any terms, conditions, exceptions or restrictions on products marketed on their platforms.
- Online marketers also recognise the need to promote consumer confidence and eliminate distrust. Advertisement of products should be truthful, transparent and factual, including current/future availability, specifications, merchantable conditions, quality and relevant warranty information.
- Online market platforms recognise that timely delivery is a material and vital term of the contract/ agreement between platforms and their customers. As such, timely delivery including reasonable and fair return windows, prompt and efficient refunds and respect for cancellations in accordance with prevailing policy, are a matter of contractual obligations.
- Online marketers recognise and respect the privacy of consumers and the need to protect such privacy by securing and only disclosing consumer data/personal information by operation of law or in accordance with consumer preferences.
The meeting also resolved that parties commit to a broad-based stakeholder engagement to further promote and develop these principles, Business Guidance and regulatory framework.