In an era of technology when the ‘buy’ button is just a click away, be doubly sure while making payments via the internet as fly-by-the-night online operators are mushrooming across the country, experts warn.
In the absence of proper guidelines, online shoppers are often at sea when faced with a fraud.
“There is no rule that we are aware that the customer service centre of an e-tailer should be within the boundaries of the country,” Vipul Sharma, communications head of e-commerce Association of India (ECAI), told IANS.
As of now, online customers, just like offline customers, can register their grievances either with a consumer court or directly with the ministry of consumer affairs.
“However, the ECAI is pushing for a consumer redressal forum to be set up under the ministry of consumer affairs to address grievances faced by online shoppers,” he informed.
Not only for customers, a customer service centre is important for the service provider as well, for their existence.
“Online companies that serve customers of any type do need customer services to stay competitive. It makes business sense since it is much easier to retain and serve an existing customer than acquire new ones. The ability to handle customer complaints effectively helps that objective,” Ashvin Vellody, Partner (Management Consulting) at KPMG, told IANS.
Take the case of Arjun Jauhari, 25, a Bengaluru-based engineer who booked a resort located on the Jaipur-Ajmer National Highway (NH-8) online via a website that claims to be the largest seller of rooms online.
After reaching the resort with the booking number and a confirmation received from the website, he had to face confusion and harassment when he reached his destination.
“To sort this out, I tried to contact the website directly as it was already 10 p.m. Their 24X7 multi-lingual customer service did not have any service centre in India. I tried their international number but could not reach them,” Juhari told IANS.
Even the partnered resort did not have its contact details, he added.
He had to pay the entire booking amount again to avoid more embarrassment.
Although the hotel refunded his money a day later, the experience left Juhari in a state of shock. He now thinks twice before doing an online booking.
In the recent Uber rape case, after the formal complaint was filed, police were unable to find any contact details for Uber on its web pages, portals and blogs.
Delhi Police had to finally book a cab using its app to trace its office in India.
According to Sharma, while buying services from an international company, a consumer should make sure that he or she is using a trusted payment gateway.
Customers should read the terms and conditions of delivery before paying because the taxes can wary from region to region, he advised.