Jun, 23 2012

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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