ONDC invites public comments on its grievance redressal draft framework
ETtechThe Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) on Friday put out a paper on its website on grievance redressal for the public to respond before October 31.
This comes on a day when it went live in some high-density areas in Bengaluru.
The paper says Seller Apps must ensure that the product description is accurate and complete. They must also ensure that the terms and conditions for returns/refunds/cancellations are clearly declared.
Third, they must clearly specify the price declared by the seller (which cannot be greater than the maximum retail price), separate from any other charges such as convenience fees, packing charges etc. Fourth, the fulfilment terms such as delivery time and delivery charges must be clearly mentioned.
The paper also says that if the seller had declared upfront that the product is not returnable, the return will not be processed unless the product is defective or damaged.
Even when a product is returnable, the seller may choose to issue a refund rather than initiating a return.
Similarly, cancellations will only be processed if the seller had indicated upfront that the order is cancellable.
The logistics for a return, the paper said, will work in a similar fashion to forward logistics, but with the flow inverted.
The seller or seller app will place a logistics order for the reverse pickup, if that was the commitment given in the returns policy and the return was initiated within the return window.
ONDC tackles issues of returns, refunds and cancellations mainly through mutual agreement between buyers and sellers.
The seller must disclose their terms with respect to returns, refunds and cancellations, upfront at the time of making an offer to the buyer. This is a requirement under the network policy, according to the paper.
Further, the actual terms themselves are coded into the transaction-level contract.
“Allowing sellers to declare their terms and letting buyers transact with sellers whose terms they find acceptable is an inherently more balanced approach than a centralized entity dictating what the terms of sale should be,” the paper said.
This will allow for greater differentiation in service levels offered by different sellers and allow for better price discovery, while at the same time giving buyers the option of choosing to deal with sellers that offer acceptable terms.
Further, once the terms are set, a clear contractual commitment is created between the buyer and seller, and between their interfacing network participants who are facilitating the transaction.
Any violation can then become grounds for filing a grievance/dispute, and repeated violations can result in disciplinary action on the respective network participant, the paper said.
Beyond making the parties declare their terms upfront, and casting an obligation on all parties to abide by their pre-declared commitments, ONDC does not prescribe anything specific with respect to how returns, refunds and cancellations are to be handled.
This is in keeping with ONDC’s principle of being a facilitator, not a regulator, the paper said.

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