After investigating the matter, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) directed Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Shopclues and Meesho to “permanently” delist all car seat belt alarm stopper clips and associated motor vehicle components which compromise the safety of passengers and the public.
As a result, 13,118 car seat belt alarm stopper clips have been removed from the five e-commerce platforms. While Amazon has delisted 8,095 such clips , Flipkart has delisted 4,000-5,000, Meesho 21 and Snapdeal and Shopclues one each, the regulator said in a statement.
CCPA passed orders against the five e-commerce players for violation of consumer rights and unfair trade practice under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, it said.
CCPA said it took cognizance of the issue of the sale of car seat belt alarm stopper clips and “found that said clips were being blatantly sold on several e-commerce platforms in an easy-to-access manner resulting in direct violation of Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and pose a high risk to the valuable life of the consumers.”
It was also found during the proceedings that some sellers were selling the clips under the garb of bottle openers or cigarette lighter, etc, it added.
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The regulator further said using car seat belt alarm stopper clips can also be a hurdle for consumers seeking to claim amounts in cases of motor insurance policies, wherein an insurance company may deny the claim by citing the negligence of the claimant for using such clips. On the other hand, using a seat belt acts as a restraint that allows the airbag to provide proper cushion and not hit the passengers at full force which also works as a protective shield in case of collisions, it said.
That apart, CCPA has written letters to the chief secretaries and district collectors requesting them to take appropriate action as per law, against the manufacture or sale of such clips to prevent loss of life or severe injury to consumers.
The regulator has also issued an advisory to e-commerce entities, industry associations and voluntary consumer bodies to ensure such products are not manufactured and sold in the market.
CCPA investigated the matter following a letter from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) which flagged the issue of blatant sale of such clips and requested for an action against errant vendors/online platforms.
MoRTH said the rule 138 of Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989 makes it mandatory to wear seat belts. However, online sales of such items that compromise passengers’ safety by stopping the alarm beep when not wearing seat belts can be unsafe and dangerous to the life and safety of consumers.
The action taken in the present cases assumes significance given that as per the latest report published by MoRTH, more than 16,000 persons were killed in road accidents in 2021 due to not wearing seat belts, of which 8,438 were drivers and the remaining 7,959 were passengers.
Moreover, approximately 39,231 persons were injured out of which 16,416 were drivers and 22,818 were passengers. The report further said that persons in the age group of 18-45 accounted for more than one-third of victims in road accidents, CCPA added.