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  • Writer's pictureSophia Satapathy

Dealing with Online Billing Errors: What are Your Consumer Rights in India?

Updated: Apr 6


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A shocking double deduction from his bank account left one shopper stunned. Aayush Rath could not believe his eyes when he noticed that online retailer Myntra had charged him twice for a single purchase. Upon reviewing his bank statement closely, he found that Myntra and their payment partner, Axis Bank, had deducted the payment amount from his account twice by mistake.

This error cost Rath dearly, as he had to run from pillar to post to get his hard-earned money refunded. After much frustration dealing with the company and bank's customer service, he approached the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in Cuttack for justice. The consumer court took up his case against Myntra and Axis Bank and investigated the billing discrepancy.

Such online payment errors have become more common in recent years as digital transactions continue to rise rapidly. Many customers have complained about e-commerce giants like Myntra, Flipkart, and Amazon deducting excess amounts or multiple times from their accounts due to technical glitches. Companies and banks must have robust mechanisms to resolve such issues swiftly and compensate consumers for the troubles caused.

At Kuttl, we are very vocal about these issues consumers face from day-to-day. If not on a regular basis, such incidents even once in a while can have a huge impact on your pocket and mind. So if you like what you see and if it adds value to you consider joining our waitlist.

What is billing? Different types of billing

Billing refers to generating and issuing invoices or bills for products or services provided to customers. It is a crucial aspect of financial transactions between businesses and their clients. Various billing methods are used depending on the nature of the transaction. Here are some common types of billing:

Product billing vs service billing:

  • Product billing: This type of billing is used when selling physical goods or products. The invoice includes the item name, quantity, unit price, and total amount.

  • Service billing: Service billing is employed when providing intangible services rather than physical products. The invoice outlines the services rendered and the hourly rate, duration, and total cost.

One-time billing vs subscription billing:

  • One-time billing: One-time billing occurs when a customer makes a single payment for a product or service. It is typically used for one-time purchases or individual transactions.

  • Subscription billing: Subscription billing involves recurring payments for ongoing services or access to a product. Customers are billed regularly, such as monthly or annually, until the subscription is canceled.

Offline billing vs online billing:

  • Offline billing: Offline billing refers to the traditional method of generating paper invoices and delivering them physically to customers. It involves manual processes like printing, mailing, and handling physical documents.

  • Online billing: Online billing, also known as electronic billing or e-billing, is a digital form of invoicing. Invoices are created and sent electronically through email or online platforms. Online payment options are often provided for convenient and quick transactions.

These different billing methods cater to various business models and customer preferences. Businesses must choose the appropriate billing method based on their industry, offerings, and customer requirements.

Billing regulations and compliance in India

Billing regulations and compliance are crucial in ensuring fair and transparent financial transactions in India. Here are some key aspects to consider regarding billing regulations in the country:

Key points from the Indian Contract Act:

  • The Indian Contract Act lays down the legal framework for contracts and agreements between parties. It defines the rights, obligations, and remedies of the parties involved in a transaction, including billing and payment terms.

  • According to the Act, a valid contract should have essential elements such as offer, acceptance, consideration, and lawful object. These elements are important in determining the billing terms and conditions.

RBI guidelines for e-commerce billing:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) provides guidelines for e-commerce billing to ensure consumer protection and data security.

  • These guidelines focus on aspects such as secure payment gateways, customer authentication, protection against fraud, and the confidentiality of customer information.

  • E-commerce platforms must comply with these guidelines to safeguard the interests of consumers and maintain the integrity of billing processes.

Common billing errors to watch out for:

  • Incorrect pricing: Billing errors can occur due to incorrect pricing of products or services. Businesses must ensure that the prices mentioned in invoices are accurate and consistent with the agreed-upon terms.

  • Double billing: Double billing, as seen in the case of Myntra, refers to charging a customer twice for the same transaction. Businesses need proper systems to prevent such errors and promptly rectify them if they occur.

  • Incomplete or ambiguous invoices: Invoices should provide clear and comprehensive information, including details of the products or services, quantities, prices, applicable taxes, and any additional charges. Incomplete or ambiguous invoices can lead to confusion and disputes.

Complying with billing regulations and avoiding common errors is essential for businesses to maintain customer trust, adhere to legal requirements, and prevent consumer disputes. Businesses should stay updated with relevant laws, guidelines, and best practices to ensure smooth and compliant billing processes.

Comparing billing norms across countries

When it comes to billing norms, different countries have their regulations and systems in place to protect consumers and ensure fair transactions. Let's take a look at some key aspects of billing norms in different countries:

Regulations in the US, UK, Europe, etc.:

  • United States (US): In the US, billing regulations are governed by federal and state laws. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) protects consumers from billing errors and unauthorized charges. It allows consumers to dispute incorrect charges and provides guidelines for resolution.

  • United Kingdom (UK): The Consumer Rights Act oversees billing regulations in the UK. It requires businesses to provide clear and transparent pricing information to consumers. The act also covers incorrect billing, hidden charges, and the right to dispute and seek redress.

  • Europe: In Europe, billing norms are influenced by various directives and regulations. The European Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) network ensures cooperation among national authorities to enforce consumer protection laws. The Consumer Rights Directive provides guidelines on billing transparency, dispute resolution, and consumer rights.

Dispute redressal mechanisms for consumers internationally:

  • International dispute resolution mechanisms aim to provide consumers with avenues to resolve billing disputes across borders. One such mechanism is the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform established by the European Commission. It facilitates the resolution of disputes arising from online transactions within the European Union.

  • Additionally, international organizations like the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) work towards promoting cooperation among consumer protection agencies globally. They assist consumers in resolving cross-border disputes and provide information on consumer rights and redressal mechanisms.

It is important for businesses operating in multiple countries to be aware of the specific billing regulations and dispute resolution mechanisms in each jurisdiction. This helps them ensure compliance, maintain consumer trust, and effectively address any billing-related issues that may arise.

Other instances of poor online billing in India

Online billing issues can sometimes occur in various platforms and services in India. Let's take a look at some examples of such instances:

Issues faced on Google Play Store Apple App Store:

  • The Google Play Store and Apple App Store are popular platforms for downloading mobile applications. However, there have been instances where users have faced problems related to incorrect billing or unauthorized charges while making in-app purchases or subscriptions.

  • Some users have reported cases of double billing, where they were charged twice for the same purchase or subscription. These issues can cause inconvenience and financial loss to the users.

Complaints against Zomato, Swiggy, Dunzo:

  • Food delivery platforms like Zomato, Swiggy, and Dunzo have revolutionized how people order food and other essentials online. However, there have been complaints from customers regarding billing discrepancies.

  • Instances of incorrect or inflated billing, overcharging, or additional charges without proper justification have been reported. These issues can lead to customer dissatisfaction and erode their trust in these platforms.

Problems during the transition to the ONDC platform:

  • The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) platform aims to provide India's transparent and interoperable digital commerce ecosystem. However, during the transition phase, some users have faced billing-related problems.

  • Issues such as incorrect billing, failed transactions, or refund delays have been reported. These challenges can create frustration and inconvenience for consumers as they adapt to the new platform.

Online service providers must address these billing issues promptly and ensure transparent and fair transactions. Consumers should also be vigilant while making online payments, review their bills carefully, and promptly report any discrepancies or unauthorized charges to the respective platforms or authorities.

What can consumers do in case of billing errors?

Encountering billing errors can be frustrating for consumers. However, there are steps you can take to address such issues effectively. Here's what you can do:

Steps to raise a complaint with the company:

  • Contact the company's customer support: Reach out to the customer support helpline or email to report the billing error. Provide them with all the relevant details, such as transaction records, invoice copies, and supporting documents.

  • Keep records of communication: Maintain a record of all your interactions with the company, including dates, names of customer service representatives, and the details of your complaint.

Approaching consumer courts or other legal avenues:

If the company does not resolve your complaint the company or you are dissatisfied with their response, you can consider approaching consumer courts or other legal avenues.

  • File a complaint with the appropriate consumer dispute redressal forum: Research and identify the consumer court or forum with jurisdiction over your case. Prepare the necessary documents and evidence to support your claim and file a complaint accordingly.

  • Seek legal assistance if required: In complex cases or situations where you need legal guidance, you can consult a lawyer specializing in consumer law. They can provide expert advice and represent you in legal proceedings if necessary.

Tips to avoid disputes and check invoices thoroughly:

  • Be vigilant during online transactions: Pay attention to the payment process and ensure you enter the correct details, such as the amount and payment method.

  • Save transaction records and invoices: Keep a record of all your transaction receipts, invoices, and payment confirmations. This will help you verify the accuracy of billing statements.

  • Regularly review your bank statements: Take the time to review your bank or credit card statements regularly. Check for any unauthorized or incorrect charges and report them to the financial institution and the company involved.

  • Communicate promptly: Contact the company immediately if you notice a billing error. Prompt communication can facilitate a quicker resolution.

Remember, remaining calm and assertive when dealing with billing errors is important. Following these steps and being proactive can increase the chances of resolving the issue satisfactorily and protecting your consumer rights.

Conclusion: The need for stricter compliance and consumer awareness on digital transactions

The recent case of Myntra's double billing error highlights the importance of stricter compliance and consumer awareness in digital transactions. Companies should ensure accurate billing processes and promptly address any discrepancies. Conversely, consumers should be vigilant while making online payments, carefully reviewing invoices, and reporting errors promptly. Both parties must understand their rights and responsibilities to avoid such issues. We can foster a more transparent and secure digital transaction environment by promoting stricter compliance and enhancing consumer awareness to reduce online billing errors and the stress it causes.

FAQs

Q: What should I do if I notice a double billing error on my online transaction?

A: Contact customer support for the respective company or platform involved in the transaction and inform them about the error. Provide them with all the necessary details and request a refund.

Q: How long does it usually take to process a refund in case of a double billing error?

A: The refund processing time can vary depending on the company or platform. It is advisable to check their refund policy or contact customer support for specific information regarding refund timelines.

Q: Can I dispute a double billing error with my bank or credit card company?

A: Yes, you can contact your bank or credit card company and explain the situation to dispute the double billing error. They may initiate an investigation and assist you in resolving the issue.

Q: Are there any preventive measures to avoid double billing errors in online transactions?

A: To minimize the chances of double billing errors, carefully review the transaction details before confirming the payment. Keep track of your transaction history and promptly report any discrepancies to the company or platform.

Q: What are my rights as a consumer if I encounter a double billing error?

A: As a consumer, you can receive a refund for any incorrect charges or double billing errors. You can file a complaint with the consumer court or dispute the error through appropriate channels for resolution.

Q: Are any consumer protection laws or regulations in place to address double billing errors?

A: Yes, consumer protection laws and regulations exist to safeguard consumers' rights in online transactions. These laws provide a legal framework for seeking remedies, such as refunds, in case of double billing errors or other consumer grievances.



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