In April 2017, it was widely reported that Flipkart has changed its return policy for many product categories. The company’s website read, ‘Refunds are not offered. All sales are final,’ (see the image below). The text no longer exists but it did compel everyone to ask that has the ecommerce leader changed its return/refund policy.
Sellers were elated after hearing about Flipkart’s new refund policy
Needless to say, online sellers gave Flipkart’s decision to not offer refunds big thumbs up.
While speaking to Indian Online Seller (IOS), vendors’ lobby group AIOVA says,
“Such a policy is beneficial to sellers as it reduces unwanted returns which used to cause unwarranted losses to sellers. Other marketplaces should also set up such a policy.”
One such happy seller is Anubha Saxena. She is happy that Flipkart has changed the policy for her category – apparel, and that it has helped her to minimize returns and losses.
“Recently Flipkart has made some policy changes which are beneficial for sellers. For example, only size replacements are allowed in apparel category and no refunds. Initially, people used to order multiple sizes and colors just to try and they used to keep one and get refunds for all the others. This measure of Flipkart will really help sellers to reduce losses,” shares seller Anubha.
The same has been mentioned on Flipkart’s Cancellation and Returns page and under product listings. (See the images below)
Flipkart says, No change in policy
IOS wrote to Flipkart and conveyed that sellers are happy about the recent changes made by them with regards to returns/refund policy. IOS asked the etailer to share what prompted Flipkart to make this change and why is it beneficial for the marketplace and the sellers listed on its platform.
To this, the company spokesperson replied,
Please note that there has been no change made to the policy… Flipkart’s return policy is the most customer-friendly across the industry…The policy was last changed over a year ago. In the interest of our customers, the text of the policy has been simplified and made more explicit for easy reference.”
This was pretty much what the ecommerce player said when their no refund policy made it to the front page. Many wondered if Flipkart developed cold feet at the last minute or is it just misleading buyers/sellers.
Flipkart is only confusing buyers and sellers, say vendors
Vendors like Anubha believed that since Flipkart would only accept replacement/exchange requests, customers would stop fooling around. We got in touch with other sellers to know their views but none of them trust Flipkart.
IOS asked if any of the sellers have received any written communication informing them about the policy changes. Their collective answer was No!
While in the previous two images, we could see that Flipkart has specified ‘exchange/replacement’ return policy for apparels. But in the above image, we can see that customers can also request for ‘refund’.
So we asked sellers if Flipkart has changed its policy or not?
According to online seller Mayank Goyal,
“This (no refund) is totally a myth. Flipkart is confusing their sellers regarding the return policies. There is no official mail received from Flipkart about the return changes policy. There was news in the media and sellers had tried to read that and have confused themselves. Flipkart is playing with the mind of sellers, nothing else.”
Sellers say that quite often the invoice and the website have different return policies written on them. For example: the invoice says ‘Not eligible for return’ but on the product page it is written ‘10 days replacement’.
Sellers say no point of change in policy if Flipkart’s attitude won’t change
Whether or not the home-grown player has changed its policy is still under debate. But sellers’ unanimous opinion is that they would still have to tackle unfair returns.
“Flipkart’s return policies are a big myth. Just announcing a change in policy does not help, they should execute it too. In Feb 2017, Flipkart had silently made changes to returns in one of our category, i.e. Screen guard and tempered glass for mobile phones, which become non-returnable. (See the image below) Each listing on Flipkart for screen guards and tempered glass show it is not returnable and every invoice that we print from Flipkart also has this mentioned. But that is just words, we are still getting same number of fraud returns from Flipkart,” reasons seller Mit Kotak.
Mit shares a recent case with IOS where instead of tempered glass, the customer sent him a pen!
“Recently, I had two returns, both tempered glass of cost around Rs.1500/-. In one return, I received a Rs. 2 pen, and claimed SPF, which was approved, but approved amount was not even my procuring cost. In another case, I got an empty package and no glass. When I claimed SPF, they rejected stating, images of return not as per actual product. Obviously if customer is sending me some other box in return, how can I upload images of original product? This matter has been highlighted to Flipkart over social media, and as on this date, they have assured me that they are working on it. We are forced to increase prices of our products to factor in all these issues. Flipkart has to take this very seriously, and make major changes to their returns system and not just announce policies but execute it, and then we can reduce our product price to a reasonable level,” Mit firmly states.
What is going on Flipkart?
During our research, we realized that Flipkart is simply playing with words and altering its return policy without informing buyers or sellers. An official announcement brings accountability along with it, which Flipkart doesn’t want apparently. Therefore, the etailer writes and rewrites the terms and conditions as and when it pleases them. After all, who has the time to read the fine print, right? Unethical, isn’t it?
It seems that Flipkart believes in Harry S Truman quotes, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”