Warning to our Indian readers: be wary of Flipkart while buying devices

For those who haven’t heard of the company, Flipkart is the “Indian Amazon” of sorts. The two co-founders were, in fact, emplyed by Amazon.com prior to coming together to start the company. Flipkart has been lauded over the past year or two for their practices which managed to get Indian customers to finally spend more money buying goods on the internet. One of the highlights of their services is employing their own delivery people, who’s company uniform helps the site gain more visibility.

As with Amazon, Flipkart first began as a bookseller before moving on to other goods. Having garnered users’ trust, they moved on to more expensive products such as mobile phones, TVs and air conditioners, products that hardly anyone would have been ready to buy online in the country until very recently. However, at this point I must warn you against purchasing such items from the site.

A friend of mine recently ordered a Samsung Galaxy S III from Flipkart. He had to pay an exorbitant amount for it: the phone costs Rs. 38,000 and upwards (approximately $665), but he really wanted the phone. He chose Cash-on-Delivery as his preferred mode  of payment, which is common over here.  Flipkart has a strange practice that the customer must first pay the money before checking if the product is fine, even if the mode of payment is Cash-on-Delivery. Fortunately, the delivery guy made an exception and allowed him to first check if everything’s in order.

It wasn’t. The first thing he noticed was a broken seal. He pointed this out to the delivery guy, before opening the box.

USB cable and charger: check.

Headphones: check.

Warranty and user guide: check.

Phone: missing.

Immediately, a call was made to the Flipkart customer care to point this out. Their response (to the delivery guy) was to ask my friend to hand over the money to them. Yep. They wanted him to pay Rs 38,000 for the phone. Without giving him the phone.

Now, I understand that they would probably send him another device some time later, as they would with someone who purchases using a credit card. But to still expect a customer to pay that large a sum, after this experience, is hilarious. Even the delivery guy said so, and left the place without taking the money from my friend.

This post is in no ways meant to trash Flipkart. Some aspects of their services are exceptional and the company has been gamechangers in regards to E-commerce in India. However, I would advise you against purchasing from them. Go to a local store, where you can first check if everything’s there. And, more importantly, they will get you a better deal. Just bargain a bit, but you will end up paying less than you would to Flipkart. And even if you must, choose Cash-on-Delivery, but don’t pay until after you’ve ensured the box does contain everything.

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  • yungtris

    wow, that’s scary sick…

  • Android Telegraph

    Too right, I use Flipkart a lot, but certainly not for such costly things. And like you said, local shops give better deals anyway. But otherwise, Flipkart is awesome. Their 24 hour deliveries are the best thing. But again, best to refrain from buying stuff like the Galaxy S III.
    Oh, and an experience my friend had: He ordered a router for Rs. 1500, got it, installed it, and found out that the range was barely a meter or two, and even on top of the router the signal came out to be just one bar on his phone. He asked Flipkart to replace it, and the Flipkart people said that’s the normal range of the router. Really? Normal range is 1m? And he then tried to get them to change it, they didn’t listen for days before finally giving him a different one. Their customer care looks to have a problem with accepting customer complaints..

    • http://sushubh.net/ chromaniac

      Flipkart does have a 30 day replacement warranty no questions asked. I have used this ‘feature’ in the past and I faced no problems getting my product replaced. And no questions were asked.

      Flipkart is actually a very safe place to buy expensive smartphones for this particular reason. Getting a device replaced by the manufacturing company through their customer support center is a tedious process. Flipkart’s replacement policy gives you a 30 day cushion to get a replacement in case your device turns out to have minor issues.

      This case is of course pretty bad. If the seal was broken, the package should have been returned then and there. Period. One lesson learnt from this user experience? Open the package in front of the delivery guy to ensure that the package is not tempered with. I plan to follow this strategy in the future.

      • Android Telegraph

        That’s the thing, customer care refused to accept that the router had a fault and said it was the normal range it would give, which was equal to assuming the customer was a fool who didn’t know what he was talking about. Which was the bad part, they refused for days then finally decided to replace it. No questions asked policy shouldn’t include telling the customer that the defective product is supposed to have that defect as a feature. And they refused to escalate the problem to higher authority as well despite repeated asking.

        It was a surprise for me too seeing Flipkart behaving like that, their service is generally awesome. But again, guess there are rare occasions.
        Again, let’s hope these are rare occasions. And yeah, lesson learnt. Open packaging in front of delivery guy :D

        • http://sushubh.net/ chromaniac

          Wanted to know which customer care you contacted? Guys handling their Twitter account are very cool. I have always contacted them instead of phone or email support. I have realized that brands in India play it safe on Twitter compared to email or phone. I get an instant call from them after tweeting a complaint and the guy is usually very defensive in nature. I have had similar experience with other stores in India including BuyThePrice. Their phone customer care was rude but the guys handling their Twitter account sorted the problem out with my One X unit.

          • Android Telegraph

            Wasn’t me, but a friend. And he first contacted them on phone, then in anger also tweeted AND posted on Facebook, with “we’ll get back to you soon” responses everywhere. They said that was not a defect but normal, which also shows their technical guys don’t really have that much idea of what they are talking about.

            Believe me, my experience with their Twitter guys has always been good as well. This was probably just a one-off case like the Galaxy S III one. So again, let’s hope it’s rare. Flipkart will continue to be awesome in my eyes, but again, not ordering a costly phone from there for sure :P

  • http://imacify.com/ Vincent Raja

    We should check the product before giving the money. Now a days…. Courier delivery guys have to loot the items…. So beware of it.

  • jhurst747

    Hopefully they’ll read this and take a closer look at their policy.

    • http://itwofs.com/beastoftraal/ Karthik Srinivasan

      Yes, we are reading this and we most definitely will update the policy, if need be, to serve our customers better.

      Karthik
      Corporate Communications – Flipkart

      • Raveesh Bhalla

        @beastoftraal:disqus if need be? That comes across as “if our bottom lines are hurt”

        • http://itwofs.com/beastoftraal/ Karthik Srinivasan

          Not at all. That ‘if need be’ was intended to say that we need to do our internal check and the person who made that call deserves an opportunity for explanation. And, after listening to his/her side of the story, we’ll do what is in the customer’s best interest.

          Have tweeted you requesting your friend’s order ID or email ID. Would love to get on this asap and help solve it.

          • Raveesh Bhalla

            I’ve forwarded the tweet to my friend. BTW, he cancelled his order from you guys and went to a brick-and-mortar to pick one up.

          • http://itwofs.com/beastoftraal/ Karthik Srinivasan

            Thanks for the forward. Pity we weren’t prompt enough to help your friend this time. We hope to do better if we get another opportunity.

          • Raveesh Bhalla

            I hope the situation never arises again. And more importantly, I feel there’s no need to hold an internal investigation regarding the policy of taking money first and then letting the customer check the product. Especially the part of your phone rep asking him to pay up for a phone that never arrived.

          • http://itwofs.com/beastoftraal/ Karthik Srinivasan

            Agree. But it is only fair to get the employee’s point of view… to understand what prompted him/her to make that decision.

    • akkib89

      They really need to drive down their prices a little bit more, as India is a very price sensitive market. Sites like infibeam and homeshop18 and reference wesites like junglee.com are becoming huge hits due to their competitive pricing(most items being cheaper).

  • Suraj Bhatti

    Flipkart is crap!
    They charge more than other e-commerce sites!
    I prefer ebay india instead,they have better deals and cheaper rates!

    • Android Telegraph

      Yeah, they do have higher prices than others. Guess their nice delivery and support is what gets customers to them. And some also do not have any idea that other e-commerce sites have it for cheaper, which was the case with 3 of my friends before i told them, hehe

      • http://sushubh.net/ chromaniac

        I had call it complacency. Flipkart knows that they have a widely known brand largely due to their television ads. And people have tasted the blood with this… Experimented and had good success. So they are focusing on profitability right now. I always conduct a search on Junglee when I am looking to order something online. Junglee might not have all the online stores in their database but it has helped me find some excellent deals especially on books!

        • Android Telegraph

          For books I always go to Tradus or Flipkart, with Tradus being on my radar more.

          • http://sushubh.net/ chromaniac

            Flipkart again has shitty pricing for books. I have read good things about Tradus but I have also seen that most of their products are usually sold through third party stores so they act more like eBay. I have had good success with IndiaPlaza and uRead for book related deals.

          • Android Telegraph

            Hmm, okay, thanks, will try those out too the next time I order a book. Tradus hasn’t disappointed yet. Flipkart I usually use when their pricing on books isn’t that high compared to Tradus, in which case I prefer the faster delivery.

  • Michael Quinlan

    Mistakes happen (I once ordered electronic components from Amazon and received a 12-pack of canned cat food). But to expect a COD customer to pay after confirming that the item has not been delivered is ridiculous. At least the delivery driver had some common sense. Hopefully he won’t be penalized for it.

  • http://twitter.com/neon115 parth buch

    Sorry to say but this is one of the most stupidest post i have ever read regarding Flipkart. Mind well i am not working for flipkart nor have any association with it. I am just a true flipkart fan. I have to date ordered goods north of 1lac from flipkart mostly using COD. This might be just an isolated instance which you are trying to hype and gain publicity.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      1. We don’t need the publicity.
      2. When stuff like this happens, we warn our friends against a particular seller. Our friends here are our readers.
      3. I never meant to trash Flipkart, as I explicitly mentioned.
      4. I advised people against purchasing from Flipkart not solely because of this instance, but also because better deals can be found outside.
      5. I also mentioned if a reader does choose to buy from Flipkart, then choose COD and ensure not paying until after checking everything to make sure it’s all in order.
      6. If you want the stupidest post on Flipkart, then read this month’s copy of Forbes. You know Forbes, right? Run in India by Network 18? Who also happen to own Homeshop 18, one of Flipkart’s biggest competitor?

      • Sri Vamsy Gurram

        Simple man….Can you just run a pole question on “How reliable Flipkart” is?

  • WhoaManWtF

    Scumbag website, Post article damning a company based on ONE transaction….

  • http://itwofs.com/beastoftraal/ Karthik Srinivasan

    As promised last night, we did check internally. This shouldn’t have happened at all and the customer care person should not have insisted on payment – it is obvious and this is a lapse from our side. We apologize to Raveesh’s friend and will ensure that such obvious lapses do not happen at Flipkart again.

    Karthik
    Corporate Communications – Flipkart

  • Prasanth Prabhu

    I have always used Flipkart – I have tried other online stores but came back to Flipkart for their awesome delivery and prompt service. Yes, prices are a bit on the higher side but I’m fine with that. This blog post is truly not fair – especially the advice of not buying from Flipkart . Their prices may be high. So what? I get peace of mind buying stuff from them.

  • Marsg

    I would of been like : “bish where my galaxy s3, did you think I wouldn’t check that shit, I feel betrayed, e tu Brute, e tu”

  • http://twitter.com/RahulRVerma Rahul R Verma

    You took a different approach to write this article. Your article was totally based on one transaction. Rather than putting the article in a negative way, you could have done a better job by just advicing to take caution. You could have just pointed out to check the package rather than completely putting Flipkart in a negative way. For me this appears to a rage post/article rather than being informative. A website with such high viewership should consider all this before posting negative opinions against a business entity.
    However, the instance of the customer service rep telling to pay without giving the product is totally hilarious though.

  • Steven Skwarkowski

    So an entire article to help out “a friend”. Wow…must be nice to have an entire news site to help get your word out! So glad we as an Android community are here to help one guy in the whole world by posting useless opinions!

    /s

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      It was never meant out to help a friend. He already went out and bought it from a brick-and-mortar.

  • http://twitter.com/_purple_karma_ Prateek Ahuja

    I am amongst the people who have been buying online since ages now. I totally love flipkart and come back to them every time I need to.

    Though in the recent past, I ordered a few net-books for my office and my orders were cancelled due to ‘unavailability’ even though they were ‘in-stock’. This happened quite a few times. Ultimately, I gave up and resorted to the ‘brick-and-mortar’. I got calls from customer care dept. mentioning that the same configuration is available in other colors. Somehow, they were not able to fulfill the order requirement even in that color.The experience was a little sour for sure. I do go back to flipkart whenever I need to buy anything but I am just a little cautious considering these guys can cancel the orders even after a few days due to non-availability. If a product is shown to be in stock, then isn’t it supposed to be delivered too?