‘I would never buy my favourite perfume from the luxury brand Chanel on an online marketplace,’ says Mrs. Cheryl Dias, a young avid shopper. ‘How can I ever know if it’s the original thing?’
Mrs. Dias is not alone in her predicament. With several questions being raised regarding the trustworthiness of branded products sold on e-commerce sites, several shoppers are wary of unverified sellers. In fact, recently Snapdeal was embroiled in a soup with a customer claiming he was sold counterfeit goods.
Claims of fraud
A Bangalore-based offline retailer Manish Singhvi was at the receiving end of such a fraud. He has ordered JBL Pulse Bluetooth speakers from Snapdeal. When he received the order, the products were allegedly counterfeit. Mr. Singhvi has already filed a complaint at the concerned police station, naming Snapdeal as one of the accused. According to a senior officer dealing with the case, it is a “clear case of cheating and investigations are going on.”
Brand warnings against shopping online
Several other big electronics brands have policies that discourage customers from shopping their products online. Dell, for example, had sent out a warning that Snapdeal is not an authorized reseller of its electronic gadgets. Customers who shopped from Snapdeal would have to consider the fact that Dell ‘may not honor any representations, benefits, entitlements made on Dell products by /or Snapdeal.com’. This clearly stated warning would make any Dell customer jittery when purchasing from Snapdeal.com, a popular online marketplace.
Counterfeit or competition?
It is difficult to judge if this is a genuine case of fraudulent sellers being frequent on online selling marketplaces, or simply a one-off incident. In any case, it seems like the biggest electronics brands are using this weakness of e-commerce to their advantage, claiming to have no responsibility whatsoever in the sale of faulty goods online. This corresponds to offline brand retailers’ woes about the discounts offered online, which they simply cannot keep up with.
Samsung has faced the e-commerce competition in a novel way. It has decided to give exclusive rights of 48 models only to offline retailers. This is a definite step towards battling the extreme competition that online selling has created in the sale of electronics.
The best way online retailers can tackle these allegations is by verifying the reliabilities of sellers selling on their platforms. For now, online marketplaces have been charged with both selling counterfeit and creating unsustainable competition!