E-commerce firms must pay back their consumers' money by 31 March next, else they will face legal actions, said Director General of the Directorate of National Consumers Right Protection AHM Shafiquzzaman on Monday (21 March.
He made the remark at a function arranged at the commerce ministry's conference room on the occasion of returning the payment gateway money of two e-commerce firms – Shrestha.com and Alif world – to their consumers.
"The commerce ministry will take legal actions, if the e-commerce firms don't pay back to the consumers by 31 March next. The law enforcement agencies have been given directives in this regard. The number of such firms is 39 ones," said Shafiquzzaman, also an additional secretary of the commerce ministry.
He, however, said it is not known yet how much money the firms owe to the consumers.
The DG said the government will not shut down the e-commerce business only because of some unscrupulous firms.
The e-commerce firms must show a positive attitude for paying back to their consumers by contacting the digital commerce cell of the commerce ministry by 31 March. Otherwise, the list of the firms will be sent to Police Headquarters for taking legal actions, he said.
Shafiquzzaman said the money stuck at the payment gateway of Shrestha.com and Alif World was returned to the customers on Monday.
He said they made an effort to dispose of complaints, but many firms are now facing lawsuits and remain in hiding out of fear. "We invited them to come by 31 March, contact the digital commerce cell of the commerce ministry and e-Cab. We want to help you," he added.
"We are going to take a tough decision by holding a meeting of the technical committee in April. Our agencies will take legal action against them. We will instruct the payment gateways to provide the pending money to the customers within seven days," he said.
The commerce ministry is now monitoring so that no e-commerce firms can resort to fraudulent acts as did in the past, said the official.