Friday, December 9, 2011

Flipkart is listening

I got a call from Mr. Jayvant from flipkart, and he lent a very patient ear to me, and we had a lengthy discussion about this issue. Jayvant was certainly sympathetic to my concerns, and he was not trying to convince me that flipkart is right. He apprised me of a few changes to their reverse pick-up process.
1. They ensure that a reverse-pick-up is completed within 72 hours of receiving the complaint.
2. The moment the courier says that the pick-up was made, they process the refund. They don't wait for the item to reach their warehouse.

This certainly takes care of the problem partially. I suggested to Jayvant that there is still a room for error, not intentionally, but by mistake, or due to an employee of the courier company whose goals don't align with those of flipkart. Jayvant said that in case such a thing happened, they'll take the issue seriously with the courier company, and I certainly don't doubt the honesty of his statement, or the seriousness of flipkart. However, I suggested a hypothetical scenario that the person making the reverse pick-up loses the product accidentally, and doesn't inform his courier company that he has made the pick-up. In this case, the customer has no proof that he has handed the item to the courier person, and Flipkart has no proof that the customer has handed this item to the courier company. It could work the other way, too, in which the customer may not hand the item to the courier person, but claim that he has. In both cases, things become hazy. Ambiguity could be removed from the entire process if only the courier person gave a receipt of pick-up to the customer. That way, both parties have a proof of the pick-up.

Jayvant understood my suggestion, and said that he will forward the same to his seniors, and he was appreciative of the suggestion.

Jayvant further informed me of the expansion plans of flipkart, and he agreed that they need to iron out and smooth their services. He informed me that there will be a lot of changes in the next few months. He also explained to me that my suggestions might take a little bit of time to get implemented (may not get implemented overnight), which I find is fair enough.

I also shared some feedback about flipkart's packaging of books, and he informed me that next month onwards, customers can see a change in the way flipkart packs its books.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If flipkart sends you a wrong item, you HAVE to accept the package and pay for it

Had a long call with flipkart, the details of which can be found here. ========================================================================== Here is what every flipkart customer should know:

The flipkart company policy says that if flipkart sends you a wrong item, even via cash-on-delivery, there is no way you can refuse the package. You have to accept the package, although you might know that they have shipped you the wrong item, and pay for it as well. Even if the manufacturer's packaging and seal is intact and untouched. Well, unless you have an X-ray machine and determine the contents of the package without opening the card-board packaging flipkart put around the item.

Yes, you are reading me right.

So here it goes. Flipkart policy says that if the covering flipkart put over the article (not the manufacturer's packaging or seal, I'm talking about the cardboard covering flipkart puts over its items), then it cannot be returned, and must be accepted.

So if you receive a wrong package, open it IN FRONT OF THE flipkart delivery person, you just have to accept it even if it doesn't contain the item you asked for, like it or not. Even if you are paying via cash on delivery.

Flipkart says that they will arrange a reverse pick-up for the wrong item later on, but I have had bad experiences about their reverse pick-up. You can read about my experiences with their reverse pickup here.

It is like this, if you go to a store, and ask the storekeeper for a bottle of milk, and he gives you a package of yoghurt by mistake, and then tells you that YOU HAVE TO PAY AND ACCEPT THE YOGHURT, and he'll arrange a pick-up of the yoghurt later on.

All I can say is that this policy is is illegal.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Got a call from flipkart

I got a call from Mr. Roshan from Flipkart today, and he was all apologetic. He told me that they have started processing my refund.
He said that this shouldn't have happened, and they are investigating what went wrong. They have also escalated this issue to the higher management. He agreed that the customer care should have handled this case better, and there was some problems with the flow of information within Flipkart.
I shared my concern that their service is deteriorating, and rather than expanding so much, they need to consolidate, look at their supply chain and logistics. He seemed to concur with what I was saying.
I also told him that this issue should have been escalated by their customer care, and it shouldn't have required a blog post, and a facebook post to get their attention. He agreed with me and apologized.
He further told me that they are working to a system in which if there are more than four mails back and forth, the customer care will call the customer up.
I hope they are able to deliver on these in the future.

Dear Flipkart, Your Customer Service Has Started Sucking

Got a call from flipkart. Details here.

If you think that Flipkart provides as good a service as, I wouldn't blame you. I also thought the same a few months ago, but recent interactions with them changed my outlook. I don't doubt their intent, but my opinion is that they have grown too big too soon, and their customer service hasn't kept up. I'm not asking you to stop buying from flipkart, but rather pointing out that you should be on your guard with them and not take them to be infallible like Amazon. If possible a couple of things might help:
1. Try not to buy from them by pre-paying with credit-card/bank account. Cash on Delivery is a better option.
2. When you receive a package, open the package and inspect the item before accepting. If something is wrong, reject the package.
3. DON'T trust their 30 day money back guarantee. The process for the same is not transparent. I don't think they intend to cheat you, but the process for the 30-day money back guarantee, and reverse pick-up of items is not smooth.

Why am I saying all this? Obviously, you have a right to know. So here it goes.

The gist is, I had ordered a wrong item, and asked them to modify the item to another item of the same cost. They said that they can't modify the order, but they'll cancel the older order and refund the money in 5-7 days. I can order the desired item separately. I did the same, and told them. They said they have cancelled the original order. However, they shipped both the items in the same parcel. Their customer care called me and apologised, telling me that there was a delay in cancelling the order (despite their confirmation of the cancellation), and that they had shipped both the items. She agreed to do a reverse pick-up of the wrong item. They fixed an appointment. The courier person didn't show up for the reverse pick-up till I followed up with flipkart. The courier person picked up the item, but didn't give me any receipt for the pick-up. This was on 21-10-2011. Its 9-11-2011, today, 19 days after the pick-up was made, and flipkart claims not to have received the item at their warehouse so now, and keep telling me that they'll soon receive it, and once they receive it, they will refund the money for the wrong item. From my interactions with them, I found them to be completely clueless about whats going on with this case. They don't even have the courtesy to call me up and apologise for the delays, and explain what is going on. I mailed them multiple times, and I have got the same we-are-disinterested-in-your-plight reply. They have been like any government department in their attitude towards this case.

If you have the patience, read on to find the details.

On October 16, 2011, I ordered a battery for my Samsung cellphone from flipkart (Lets say the model number was XX). Soon after ordering the battery, I found out that I had ordered the wrong model of battery. I should have ordered model YY, but instead I ordered model XX. Since both XX and YY had the same cost, I wrote to them to change the order and ship YY instead of XX.
The following day, I received a reply from flipkart asking me to place a new order for the model YY, and informing me that they would cancel the order for XX and refund the money within 5-7 days. As instructed, I placed a new order, and sent them a mail that I have done so, and asked them to positively cancel the order.

On the evening of October 17th, one saying that the battery XX has been shipped, the other saying the battery YY has been shipped. I thought there was some mistake, and I sent them two mails, replying to each of these mails drawing their attention that the order had been cancelled, and a new order was placed, so they should have shipped only one battery (YY).

On October 18th, I got a mail from them saying that they have cancelled the order for battery XX, and I'll get a refund for the same in 5-7 business days. In the same mail, they told me that they have shipped YY, and I'll get YY within 2 days. I thought the issue was resolved.
However, later in the day (18-10-2011), I got a call from flipkart from a lady, and she told me that there was a delay in cancelling the order, and by mistake they have shipped both the batteries in the same parcel. She gave me two options:
a. I could reject the parcel on arrival
b. I could accept the parcel and use YY. They will arrange for a reverse pick-up for XX.
Since I needed the battery urgently, I chose the latter option (b).
I asked them what will the process for the reverse pick up be, and they fixed an appointment for the reverse pick-up on 20th October. (Now here is the deal, they told me on 20th morning that the courier person will come on the 20th). They asked me to seal the consignment in an envelope and to put Flipkart Bangalore's address to it, and hand it over to the flipkart courier person. They said that the courier person will not give me any receipt for the reverse pick-up.

The courier person didn't turn up, and I followed up with flipkart, asking them to instruct the courier person to call me up and fix the appointment for the pick up.. Finally the courier person arrived unannounced on 21st October to pick up the consignment. As instructed, I gave him a sealed envelope. He asked me to open the envelope so that he could inspect the item. This was something I didn't understand, why did flipkart want me to seal the envelope if they wanted to open it on pick up and inspect it. The courier person told me that anyway, the item will be opened in the courier transit office and the item examined. So I opened it, showed it to him, pointed out that the seals on the battery were intact, re-sealed the envelope and handed it to him. After this, I sent a mail to flipkart customer care that the item was picked up.

On 22nd October, I received a mail from flipkart saying that they have arranged a reverse pick-up on Monday (October 24th). I ignored this mail thinking this was sent by mistake, and the courier person turned up early.

On October 24th, I sent them a reminder that the courier person has already picked up the battery, and asked them to inform me when they receive it.

On October 25th, I received another mail from flipkart saying that they have ARRANGED FOR A REVERSE PICK UP. I replied telling them that the courier guy has already picked it up. I asked for further updates on this, to which they replied
Rest assured,once the reversed picked up product reaches our warehouse,we will definitely issue store credit of Rs.389/-.

I didn't hear from them on this for a long time, so On October 31st, I sent them a mail asking for updates. I received a reply from flipkart saying that they are yet to receive the reverse picked-up item at their warehouse, and once they receive it, they will start the process of refund. At this stage, they seem to realize that the item has been picked up by the courier guy. I replied to this saying that I am not happy with the delays in resolving this issue. They replied saying that they understand my disappointment. They added:
We ensure to keep our services effective and quick but sometimes such issues are inevitable.

On November 4th, I send them another reminder that I have yet not heard from them, and that I am really dismayed by their handling of this case, and they are losing potential orders. They replied saying that issues usually don't take so long to resolve, but this issue is taking longer. They didn't seem to care much about the trouble they were causing, or of the bad service they were giving. Their attitude was more like government departments.

Now comes the ominous part, and and the interactions that followed indicated that the flipkart customer care has no clue about their reverse pick-ups.

On November 5th, I got a mail from flipkart that completely bowled me over. Till now, I was thinking that they at least knew that the item had been picked up, but it appeared that they were completely lost. The mail said:

As you must be aware, that we have shipped the replacement copy for the above mentioned title. Now, we need to arrange a courier service to pick-up the defective/damaged mobile accesories. We kindly request you to let us know the appropriate time to arrange for a pick-up. We can request our courier service to pickup the consignment accordingly.
Needless to say, I sent them a mail expressing my amazement at this mail. I also told them that if they didn't get their act together, I'll publish the way they have handled this case on my blog. I had lost my temper with them by now.

On November 6th, I got another mail expressing their apologies. The mail said that they were investigating what went wrong, and will get back to me in 24-48 hours. They also said, "Rest assured, we will have the issue resolved at the earliest"

On November 7th, I got another mail stating that they have arranged for a pick-up for the battery. At this stage, they seemed to be completely clueless about what was going on. I sent them a WTF mail, and called up their customer care, blasted him, and told him to stop sending me mails for the pick-up of the item. I also told him to send me a mail with a deadline by which the issue will be resolved. That evening, I got the same apathetic mail saying that they will get back to me with the status (not a resolution) in 24-48 hours. I replied saying that I didn't want a status in 24-48 hours, I wanted a resolution in 24-48 hours, keeping in mind that they have already had more than two weeks to resolve the issue.

On November 11th (96 hours after their promise of 48 hours), I got a mail from them saying:
We do not intend to delay unnecessarily and disappoint our customers. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances, the consignment has not reached us yet and we are working on this to resolve the issue on priority.

Hence we will get back to you with a resolution and request your co-operation until then.

In other words, they told me, you can go to hell. We'll do what you want. I have completely lost trust in them by now. I can't take them to a consumer court for a matter of 400 rupees. It is not worth the trouble, but I can draw other peoples' attention to the deterioration of their service.

It is not a question of the amount they are holding me. It is a question of service. I was planning to buy a Nikon d7000 camera from them, something that costs more than Rs. 50,000/-. It would have really hurt had this happened with an expensive item like a camera. Thankfully, this issue happened just in time for me not to order anything expensive from them.

If you are a flipkart customer, be a little careful. I don't think they intend to swindle you out of your money, but their processes are not foolproof. Also, flipkart is not the cheapest site for shopping around. Infibeam and Indiaplaza have better prices than flipkart. However, I always shopped with flipkart for their service. But now it seems that their service has deteriorated.

Hopefully, you'll find this helpful. I encourage you to share your views in the comments section. I am a little short of time now, but I will later post a table of all the mails that went back and forth between me and flipkart.