“Don’t lose trust. We are here to stay…. So I would humbly request, all the seller associations and the sellers that keep trust as they have done in the past…. And just trust us and be with us for some more time as positive things are coming,” assured Ankit Jain, co-Founder of AskMe Grocery and a minority shareholder of AskMe Group while speaking to Indian Online Seller (IOS) last month.
And within a month, the online marketplace has sent a letter regarding non-payment of dues, reading which all the sellers have lost trust and hope.
The blame entirely lies with Astro Overseas, says Askeme
AskMe has been unable to pay its sellers for over a year and the firm owes a lot of money to its employees and customers as well. A week back, an employee wrote an open letter addressed to Astro’s Ananda Krishnan.
All hopes were pinned on the buyout scheduled for 31st July, as AskMe assured that it will resolve all the issues and payments will get cleared. But the buyout didn’t happen.
What made sellers hit the panic button is AskMe’s latest message concerning non-payment of dues. The company wrote in its letter to sellers, “The principal shareholder of Getit info services Pvt Ltd (GISL), M/S Astro Overseas LTD (AOL) which owns 98.5% of the company has just breached its written promise & commitment of funding the company of its latest tranch by July 31st 2016. This comes as complete shock & surprise to us since they have made written promises & commitment on this which are on record.”
The letter further states,
“Due to this shocking, unethical & unprofessional behaviour from AOL, we are unable to immediately clear your dues… We have, as an expression of good faith, even put in a format bid as Management to take over the company a month ago but this is also being intentionally delayed by AOL.”
Sellers baffled, to say the least
AskMe has shared contact details of 12 members of Astro Overseas Ltd’s management and asked sellers to write/call them to demand payment of dues. This has raised a red flag, as sellers’ think that AskMe is trying to wash its hands of this issue and may abandon them.
A seller who has been trying to recover Rs. 43 lakhs pending dues from the troubled marketplace shares with IOS, “The letter gives us a clear indication that the company wants to step away with our money. They owe me 43 Lakhs. They are trying to clean their hands putting the blame on Astro. A week before they were trying to convince us to give some more stock.”
Calling it ‘a total reckless decision by the management of Askmebazaar’, the seller adds,
“No one from the company (employees and all people in the list in the mail) are even taking up our calls. I am really repenting on my mistake to sell on AskMe.”
We wrote to Askme, seeking clarification on this issue, but they are yet to respond.
AskMe’s integrity questioned
Sanjay Thakur, President of ESellerSuraksha questioned the marketplace’s integrity and feels that AskMe never had the intention to pay its sellers.
Sellers, buyers and employees engaged with AskMe and not Astro. Therefore, the marketplace is equally responsible for clearing dues or at least being honest in their dealings. In spite of being in deep financial trouble, AskMe continued to launch new product launches & seller services, ask for stock and make false promises.
Now the marketplace wants sellers to knock on Astro’s door. It doesn’t sound plausible to us.
Sellers, how do you plan to tackle this issue? And sellers’ body like AIOVA and ESellerSuraksha, any game plan to assist affected sellers and recover their money?