E-consumers deserve better legal cover

SALALAH, Aug 13 – The rights of e-customers need to be protected in a better way and codes be redrafted keeping in mind the customers’ exposure to online products, the shelf of which are located far away from the purview of local laws.
The dealers sometimes are found misusing this vulnerability of the customers, as most of the legal codes are drafted as per the requirements of traditional trade in which the shops and shoppers are located within the boundaries of a country and are bound by the law of the land.
The e-consumers thus look for searching for protection in the event of violation of their consumer rights.
Many intricate issues pertaining to ‘e-consumers’ were discussed by international experts from various associated fields on the second day of 6th International e-Commerce Conference at Crowne Plaza Salalah Resort on Monday.
In his comments to the Observer, Dr Rashid bin Hamed al Balushi, Dean College of Law at Sultan Qaboos University, spoke mainly on legal aspects of e-commerce and further requirements of codes to protect the rights of e-customers.
“The volume of electronic trade is becoming bigger and bigger as there has been big shift from traditional shopping to electronic shopping. At the International e-Commerce Conference, we choose one specific issue every year.
“In the 6th edition we chose one of the most relevant topics — e-consumers — to throw light on the vulnerability of e-customers in the absence of proper codes,” he said.
The electronic trade, according to him, is a global phenomenon and its fast pace is quite visible in Oman as well. To make pace with the fast changing trend Dr Rashid sought to fill the gaps in the legal code, as even the consumer protection laws are inclined mostly towards traditional trade.
“A proper code for e-consumers is more relevant for most of the GCC countries where volume of import is far more than export. The situation requires a common code for the GCC countries and I have heard that work on something on that line is going on,” he said.
Dr Rashid sought to raise awareness among the e-consumers to do online shopping carefully while protecting their consumer rights as much as possible.
Dr Ali bin Suhail Tabook, CEO of the Middle East Consultancy and Studies Centre, expressed happiness over the response of the participants and support from government and private sector establishments.
He also sought to raise the efficiency of the existing legislation amid vast economic dimension of e-commerce.

Kaushalendra Singh