Vishakhapatnam District Commission Holds Amazon and Its Seller Responsible for Failing to Facilitate Product Returns

The Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) bench of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-II, comprising G Venkateswari (President), P Vijaya Durga (Member), and Karaka Ramana Babu (Member), ruled that Amazon and its seller were accountable for inadequate service as they did not fulfill their commitment to facilitate the return of a product.

Summary of Facts

The complainant bought a “Cubelelo YJ MGO 22 stickerless Magnetic Speed Cube Magic 22*2 Puzzle Toy” from Amazon for Rs. 949 in July 2020. Despite multiple reminders, Amazon did not arrange for the return of the product after the complainant decided to return it. As a result, the product remained unused in the complainant’s possession. The complainant argued that Amazon’s failure to facilitate the return pickup constituted negligence and a deficiency in service.

The complainant sent a legal notice to Amazon and Brainlytic Solution Pvt. Ltd. (the “Seller”), requesting either a pickup of the product or a refund with interest and compensation. Amazon responded by claiming it was not responsible for the pickup and shifted the liability to the Seller. Dissatisfied with this response, the complainant filed a consumer complaint against both Amazon and the seller in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission-II, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh (“District Commission”).

Amazon responded by asserting that its role is confined to facilitating sales as an online marketplace under the Consumer Protection Act 2019. Amazon emphasized that the actual transaction took place between the complainant and the seller. According to Amazon, the seller was responsible for handling the sale, packaging, shipping, and delivery of the product. Amazon contended that the complaint was misplaced because the seller, not Amazon, was accountable for the failure to arrange the return pickup. Amazon argued that the complainant did not substantiate any deficiency in service on Amazon’s part.

The seller did not attend the proceedings before the District Commission.

Findings of the District Commission

The District Commission observed that Amazon acted as the electronic service provider for the complainant, who relied on Amazon’s advertisement to make the purchase. At the time of payment, the complainant was unaware of the identity of the third-party seller because their name was not disclosed before ordering. The District Commission concluded that Amazon played a significant role in the transaction, including processing the payment through Amazon Pay, which the complainant utilized.

The District Commission determined that Amazon had committed to providing a return option and issuing a refund upon receiving the returned item. However, it found fault with both parties for failing to arrange the return pickup, citing negligence and a deficiency in service. The Commission ruled that the absence of a direct contract did not preclude the complainant from lodging a complaint against Amazon, given Amazon’s role as the service provider and recipient of payment. It emphasized that Amazon could not disclaim responsibility by asserting its role as a mere facilitator, pointing to its logo on the invoice and its active participation in the transaction.

Consequently, the District Commission held Amazon and the seller accountable for the delayed pickup of the return. As a result, it ordered Amazon and the seller to reimburse Rs. 949 for the product’s cost, Rs. 5,000 as compensation for mental distress and financial loss, and Rs. 3,000 for litigation expenses.

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