According to a survey by LocalCircles, which hosts online communities on consumer issues and tracks compliance by e-commerce sites and apps, most consumers couldn’t find information on the maximum retail price (MRP) and expiry dates for products that are on sale in e-commerce sites.
While half of the consumers polled by the platform said they couldn’t find MRP information for packaged products, four out of five said they couldn’t find the best-before date.
All packaged products listed on e-commerce sites must display the MRP, according to the ministry of consumer affairs, so that customers can make informed decisions. The rules took effect on January 1, 2018, after the government amended the Packaged Commodity Rules 2017.
However, according to LocalCircles, compliance has improved, with 35 percent of consumers surveyed in 2021 saying they could find MRP information, compared to 22 percent in 2018.
Although platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal have the necessary fields to list the information, some sellers and products still fail to include the best-before date.
Over 19,000 consumers from 345 districts in India were polled by LocalCircles. According to the study, 16 percent of consumers said they could find MRPs on less than 20% of packaged products, while 33% said MRPs could be found on 20% to 50% of products.
According to the report, about 2% of those polled were unable to locate MRPs for any packaged product on the internet.
According to LocalCircles,”The older e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Big Basket, and Grofers are compliant in displaying MRP for all products, while newer platforms such as Swiggy Instamart, and Shopee are non-compliant and does not display MRP, but only the price to consumers”.
Similarly, consumer compliance with information about best-before dates has been low, with over 40% of consumers surveyed saying they could only find best-before dates on 20-50 percent of packaged human consumption products, while 10% said they found the information.
Over a quarter of those polled said they couldn’t find information on any product listed on e-commerce sites or apps.
“Consumers pointed Meesho as an example of a company that does not display the best-before date on human-consumption packaged items.” Also, while some major e-commerce platforms provide a best-before date field, some sellers do not upload this information for human consumption products, according to the survey.
The department of consumer affairs, according to LocalCircles, must enforce the law so that non-compliant platforms and sellers take immediate action.
“With the mainstreaming of e-commerce channels in recent years… consumers must be presented with accurate and complete information when making purchasing decisions,” the report continued.