Online vendors have been eagerly waiting for some sign of payment Askme but have witnessed only disappointment. So they filed a case against Askmebazar and tried to reach out to political leaders to help them settle this payment crisis.
So far, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has instructed Askme’s investor Astro Entertainment Networks Ltd. to stay put. The foreign investor cannot flee the country without making due payment, the judicial body said. But payments are yet to be made and no action has been taken against Askme so far.
Pending payments from online marketplaces appear to be the latest ecommerce misfortune for online sellers. The situation has reached a point where online sellers are wondering ‘which marketplace will be the next to deny them their own money?’
AIOVA meeting with Minister of Commerce and Industry
All India Online Vendors’ Association, (AIOVA) has been working hard to initiate an ecommerce regulatory body so situations like Askme’s are prevented. The lobby group met with Jayant Sinha, the Minister of State for Finance, in June. They said it was the first meeting with the government and certainly not their last.
The online seller association met with another Minister on Monday regarding AskmeBazaar’s non-payment issue ad the appointment of a non-bias referee in ecommerce. This time, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, the Minister of Commerce and Industry responded to AIOVA and agreed to meet with them.
What Ecommerce concerns were raised?
AIOVA’s representatives informed the minister of the difficulties AskmeBazaar has caused its sellers and employees due to non-payment of Rs. 300 crores. The group was redirected to the Ministry of Coperate Affairs as the matter did not fall under Ms. Nirmala’s ministry.
The secretary of Corporate Affairs assured Ms. Sitharaman that the issue raised by AIOVA will be taken up on priority basis as you can see below:
The lobby group also raised the concern of other online marketplaces going down the same path as AskmeBazaar. The group’s spokesperson told IOS, “Today, it’s Askme, tomorrow it may be another marketplace, why is the government sleeping? There need to be some kind of regulations that ensure the money collected on our behalf by online marketplaces is given to us.”
An official from the ministry of commerce with knowledge of the discussion stated that the department is in the process of understanding how to deal with issues in ecommerce.
“The problem with ecommerce is that there is no set precedent so far since this whole space is new. We are in the process of setting these precedents, be it about consumer complaints or issues such as these,” the official said.
The minister, Ms. Sitharaman, assured the seller representatives she met with they would be they would be invited for consultation if any policy formation is planned in the future.
Askme employees and vendors protest
Askme’s employees have not received salaries for the month of July and its online sellers have been raising claims of non-payment since October 2015. On the 22nd and 28th of August both Askme employees and sellers participated in protests against the company
AIOVA participated in these protests against AskmeBazaar as well. They conducted a street march outside the AskmeBazaar office in Noida. The sellers who participated marched about chanting demands for justice and payment.
AIOVA stated, “Protests are happening everyday and the managers and directors at Askme continue to abscond.” AIOVA also said there was no significant progress yet from the government’s end.