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After govt notices, 6 companies withdraw ads promising ‘99% protection’ against Covid

Department of Consumer Affairs says advertisements in question did not necessarily relate to handwashes or sanitisers, but even products like wall paint and fabric.

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New Delhi: Six companies with businesses in India have withdrawn advertisements claiming that products manufactured by them offer more than 99 per cent protection against Covid-19 or germs.

Leena Nandan, secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, said in a press conference Tuesday that four of these companies have also agreed to put out corrective advertisements against their previous claims.

A total of 56 notices have been issued by the Central Consumer Protection Authority since last year, of which 27 were for misleading advertisements, while the other 29 were for unfair trade practices.

“The six companies that were issued notices by the CCPA for pulling down the misleading advertisements (regarding efficacy against Covid and other germs) were not necessarily manufacturers of sanitisers or handwash. There were also other companies, which in advertisements for products like wall paint or fabric, claimed efficacy of more than 99 per cent against Covid-19 or germs,” said Nandan.

Also read: Stringent draft e-commerce rules are not in best interest of consumers, survey finds

‘Country of origin’ info violations

The Department of Consumer Affairs secretary also stated that 202 notices regarding violations of a government mandate on the declaration of ‘country of origin’ have also been issued to e-commerce entities and sellers. The notices were issued between 16 October 2020 and 22 October 2021.

The highest number of such notices — 47 — were issued against electronic products, followed by 35 notices issued against items of clothing. Nandan also said 75 companies have compounded their offences, of which 68 have compounded for violations relating to the country of origin. The department has collected almost Rs 42 lakh as penalties for these compounded offences.

“These violations involve declaring the false country of origin on the products listed on e-commerce platforms and failure to declare the country of origin. The CCPA has taken suo motu cognisance of the matter, on basis of complaints received from numerous consumers on the National Consumer Helpline portal,” said Nandan.

“The clauses of Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, mandate that any seller offering goods or services on marketplace e-commerce entity needs to provide all relevant details about goods and services offered for sale by the seller including country of origin. These are necessary for enabling the consumer to make an informed decision at the pre-purchase stage,” she continued.

“The Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, also mandate declaration of country of origin on e-commerce platforms. CCPA is also working in coordination with the legal metrology department for necessary action under the legal metrology act,” Nandan added.

She said the CCPA has also decided to initiate a country-wide campaign to prevent the sale of spurious and counterfeit goods that violate “quality control orders” published by the central government. The daily use products identified for the campaign are helmets, pressure cookers and cooking gas cylinders. Violation of compulsory standards has been categorised as a cognisable offence under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 2016, as such poor quality goods can be “dangerous, hazardous, and harmful to lives of consumers”.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Over 22% of consumer complaints in India in last 4 years are linked to e-commerce sector


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