Conscious Consumers Society (CCS), a consumer rights group, has served a legal notice to the authorities concerned seeking the refund of money to e-commerce customers that is stuck in payment gateways.
In total, 10 top officials of seven institutions and organisations, including the commerce ministry and the Bangladesh Bank, were made respondents to the notice served by Supreme Court lawyer, Barrister Sabrina Zarin, on behalf of CCS.
The officials have been asked to explain within seven days why the money of buyers, stuck in payment gateways, will not be returned to them. They have also been asked to explain why the escrow system introduced by the Bangladesh Bank, will not be amended to establish a permanent system of automatically refunding customers.
The respondents are the governor of the Bangladesh Bank, general manager of the Payment System Department of the bank, the commerce secretary and the director-general of the WTO cell of the commerce ministry, chief executive officers of mobile financial service provider bKash and Nagad, payment gateway SSL Wireless, Foster Pay, and Surjo Pay.
"We have received specific information on almost 350 victims from CCS. There is a severe complexity regarding the money stuck in escrow systems," said lawyer Zarin.
"Legal steps are being taken to resolve the issues," she said, adding that they will go to court if the legal notice proves unfruitful.
Meanwhile, CCS Executive Director Palash Mahmud said the money of thousands of customers is stuck in escrow systems.
"The gateways are saying they need permission from the government or the e-commerce company to release the money. But why will I need the approval of e-commerce companies to get my money back?" he questioned.
The central bank introduced the escrow service in July for rogue e-commerce companies like Evaly and Dhamaka in the face of widespread allegations against them of fraud and irregularities.
In an escrow payment service, money paid by customers for ordered goods from e-commerce companies gets deposited in third-party payment gateways. The companies receive the money after submitting supporting documents proving the goods have been delivered.
However, many customers claim they neither got their products nor the money they paid for goods undelivered.