As a consumer, you might have experienced problems: delay in the delivery of a mattress, a defective vacuum cleaner, repairs or work poorly done, misinformation given by a seller, a contract with missing required information . . . and the list goes on!

What can you do to solve your problems and enforce your rights in these kinds of situations? Here’s a guide to help you learn more about the legal remedies and other solutions available to you as a consumer.

The Telangana Consumer Information and Redressal Centre at the Civil Supplies Bhavan at Irrum Manzil in the city is likely to provide you solutions for the problems you may face as a consumer.

In the recent past, several people have reaped benefitsin the form of compensation or replacement of products by availing the free services offered at the redressal centre.

In a latest case, a consumer received a refund of Rs 4.4 lakh when an issue concerning a property deal was taken up as a compliant in the Telangana State Alternate Dispute Redressal Centre. In just 15 days, both parties reached an amicable settlement. The issue in question pertained to purchase of a property at Bachupally in 2012.

“The issues are settled through counselling. We hear out both parties during our Saturday hearings that is held throughout the day. When there is an obvious case in favour of the consumer, we suggest that the seller or service provider do justice to the consumer. The issues are settled sometimes immediately or may be through a couple of more hearings,” said Nagalaxmi, who is in charge of the centre.

All that the aggrieved consumer needs to do is approach the centre, fill in a simple form and provide photocopies of the evidence of purchases and the default in-service. “If one opts to approach a consumer court it takes a lot of time for the case to he heard and disposed of. It is a strain on both the company/firm/seller or service provider as well as the aggrieved consumer,” Nagalaxmi pointed out.

After the centre receives a complaint from a consumer, it sends out notices to the trader or the company to sort out the matter amicably. During the counselling sessions that are undertaken at the centre, both parties are advised to settle the issue in a manner convenient to both parties but with interest of aggrieved consumer given priority.

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Between 2018 and September 20, 2019, the redressal centre has received as many as 365 complaints, out of which 270 were redressed. In all the cases, the redressal was to the satisfaction of both the concerning parties. It was seen that consumers who were vexed with their complaints not been taken cognisance of by the traders or service providers for deficient services, approached the redressal centre in plenty.

“The procedure to approach the redressal centre is very simple. We have a helpline numbers that the consumers can call us on, to first tell us what their complaint is. We will then explain as to how they need to proceed in a formal way at the centre by filling up a form,” Nagalaxmi said.

The tragedy of e-commerce can be measured in percentage: 75.8% (almost 8 out of 10) of online shopping carts are abandoned without the purchase being completed. Deficient checkout processes are often singled out as the main cause, but many other problems faced by e-commerce consumers could be behind it.

Slow load times, poor return policies, lack of customer warranties or absurd requirements are among the problems that make online shopping difficult. In the following lines, you will discover these and other bad practices that reduce the commercial performance of online stores, knowing them is the best way to avoid them!

Having an excellent product is no guarantee of excellence, and the best e-commerce know it. The following selection of problems faced by online consumers does not relate to the product, but to the service before, during and after the purchase (after-sale):

It doesn’t matter if an online shoe store has the best moccasins on the market: if your product files contain poorly written text, poor quality images or imprecise specifications, the consumer could back down and visit the competition. Details make all the difference, so it’s important to take care of your product files. Bad practices are just one of the many problems faced by online consumers.

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Did you know that 3 out of 10 online consumers (34%) abandon their shopping cart when they are forced to create an account? This is just one of many requirements that should not be imposed on first-time customers. Amazon, for example, reports the advantages of registering on its platform, but in no case imposes registration on its customers.

Another major challenge faced by shoppers while shopping online is logistics. Compared to the physical store collection of traditional retailers, e-commerce must invest in delivery to reduce this disadvantage. However, 23% of shoppers abandon their shopping carts for shipping reasons, proving that they are not doing too well.

Long delivery times are a serious problem for B2C trade, although in business-to-business it can be offset by the price or volume of products. While certain e-commerce offer same day delivery, most remain stuck in deliveries in 2-3 days. Consumers don’t like waiting.

The situation worsens when shipping costs exceed the final price of the shopping cart. There are at least two ways to solve this problem that not all e-commerce practices:

Free shipping at a certain price (from 75 dollars or from a certain number of items).
Incorporate shipping costs to the price, in addition to taxes, so that customers do not receive an increase in price at the end of their shopping cart.

Do you like endless queues at supermarkets? They’re as horrible as slow loading times in ecommerce. Amazon estimated in 2012 that every second of loading caused them to lose 1.6 billion dollars, which helps to understand why this platform is so fast today.

Most consumers search for several minutes in a category before selecting one or more products for purchase. If navigation is not smooth, users will end up getting tired and leaving the site, leaving behind an abandoned shopping cart. It is not surprising, then, that this is one of the problems faced by ecommerce consumers.

Investment in cybersecurity is growing year on year, due to the increasing number of threats to governments, companies, and businesses internationally. Far from being oblivious to this problem, ecommerce is forced to exercise extreme caution. The processing of purchases requires the sending of sensitive consumer information, which must be protected.

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Online customers are increasingly aware of the importance of security, and therefore demand guarantees. Unfortunately, a part of the ecommerces fails in this sense. Sometimes they even violate users’ rights.

In addition to using seals of quality and trust (eKomi, Confianza Online, etc.), it is important that virtual stores use security protocols SSL (Secured Socket Layer and comply with the standards of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), among other measures.

The quality of a product cannot be known until the consumer examines it with his hands, which does not present difficulties in traditional retailers. But that is not the case with ecommerces. Most consumers are used to this difficulty and therefore expect to find certain guarantees. Let’s see:

The product sheets must contain a link to the return policies. If they are better than the competition, highlighting them can be a great idea (immediate return without commitment, for example). In any case, return policies cannot be imprecise. The customer needs to know what to do if a product does not have the quality he expected.

If the worst-case scenario is finally met (the product has poor quality, does not match the image, is defective, etc.), it is important to offer guarantees to the customer: how will you recover your money, who will take care of the recovery of the item, will ecommerce compensate you in any way?

If the ecommerce is not able to satisfactorily answer these questions, probably the purchase decision will never occur. The result will be an abandoned cart at best and a rebound most of the time.

These and other problems faced by online consumers are conspicuous by their absence at Amazon, Walmart and most of the big ecommerces in the market. Entrepreneurs should take note of them, to avoid them from the beginning and thus gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. #KhabarLive