Last week, India’s largest online retailer Flipkart announced that it would be selling the extremely popular OnePlus 3 at Rs 9,000 less than it s officially sold in India on Amazon.in. Naturally, this meant that buyers would get this device at a huge discount, especially considering that the recently launched OnePlus 3T is priced at a significant Rs 11,000 higher than Flipkart s asking price. This was great news for buyers, until it was revealed that OnePlus wasn t a part of this deal at all. Also Read - iPhone SE gets cheaper on Flipkart only for today: Get over Rs 11,000 flat discount
.@_sachinbansal brother, what’s this? We’re exclusive with @amazonIN pic.twitter.com/0QBoyagoXz Also Read - OnePlus Nord 2 first sale via Amazon India today: See price, offers and moreAlso Read - iPhone 12 for iPhone 11 launch price at Flipkart Big Saving Days sale, iPhone 12 Mini alse sees discount
Carl Pei (@getpeid) December 16, 2016
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei tweeted out to Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal asking what this sale was about, considering that OnePlus sells its smartphones exclusively and officially with Amazon in India. This effectively confirmed that Flipkart was acting alone with its seller, and OnePlus obviously released a statement saying that devices purchased through non-official channels (such as Flipkart) could not be guaranteed for authenticity or be entitled to after-sales support of any kind. Flipkart, on the other hand, stated that it does not control pricing set by its sellers, and this was an authorized seller simply using the Indian e-commerce giant s marketplace as a selling medium. It also mentioned that the phone would be subject to warranty support on the product page for the device. ALSO READ: OnePlus 3 to go on sale for Rs 18,999 on Flipkart on December 18
The OnePlus 3 is now listed as out of stock on Flipkart, and it s likely that only a small quantity of units were sold during the Big Shopping Days sale over the past weekend, since the phone went out of stock within seconds of going on sale. And at the end of this whole episode, we re all still confused as to what just happened.
But what is completely clear is that this war of the e-commerce giants is leaving customers in the dark about important aspects of their purchase, and harming the brand value of companies, such as OnePlus in this case, for absolutely no fault of its own. It s possible that Flipkart and its seller are making a loss on selling the phone at Rs 18,999, but customers will now believe that the OnePlus 3 is not really worth the Rs 27,999 price tag, even if it is.
By selling a few units at Rs 18,999, Flipkart has dealt some serious damage to the credibility of pricing that OnePlus had worked so hard to maintain. In the six months of availability, the company has not dropped pricing even once, and the phone has consistently been sold at Rs 27,999 through Amazon India. This gives some level of confidence to buyers, who are unlikely to face buyer s regret. This also helps OnePlus retain its premium brand image, by proving that its product is good enough to sell on its own and doesn t need discounts and other gimmicks to drive sales. All of this has taken a hit thanks to what I believe is a cheap tactic by Flipkart to undermine both Amazon and OnePlus strong position with the OnePlus 3. As a OnePlus 3 owner that paid full price for the device, this effectively becomes a direct attack on me and my position, as well as everyone else that s already bought a OnePlus 3 legitimately.
Had Flipkart acted with the approval and support of OnePlus, the blame would have fallen on the Chinese manufacturer here. But Carl Pei and OnePlus have categorically denied involvement in this scheme, going as far as to issue a statement that devices bought from Flipkart won t receive after-sales support. This means that Flipkart has at best been unclear of who will provide after-sales support to its own customers, and at worst lied blatantly about this entire episode to everyone. It can neither vouch for its seller s right to sell the product, it cannot provide answers to OnePlus or its customers and it cannot justify its pricing or stocks, thereby violating all the unspoken rules of running a reliable and trustworthy online marketplace.
It s unfortunate that Flipkart has come down to this level of activity in order to win points over its rival Amazon. And it s even more unfortunate that instead of creating healthy competition, the e-commerce war has now resorted to dirty and negative tactics such as this, which benefit no one, least of all the customers. Maybe when Flipkart goes back to positive ways of winning over buyers will I go back to buying from Flipkart.