Design & People

Design & People identify how design can intervene to make a contribution to the ongoing efforts to improve the lives of people disadvantaged by war, disability, and political and environmental conditions. We unite and encourage graphic, industrial and architectural designers to use their experience and skills towards social and humanitarian projects. Mission: Design For People In Need.

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Campaign: Slap Deals.com (March 2014)
SNAPDEAL.COM: THE GREAT INDIAN E-ROBBERY

Pressure Group Design & People sues Snapdeal.com and launches 'Slap Deals.com' campaign to educate first-time online buyers. The group is also filing a Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution demanding a ban on portals engaged in fraudulent practices in India.

 BACKGROUND  | TIMELINE | MODUS OPERANDI | THE VERDICT | SIGN PETITION | RESOURCES

THE recent edition of Forbes India magazine stated — "Flexibility and nimbleness have marked rapid growth of Snapdeal.com in online trade". Design & People investigates if there is a 'third factor' that contributes to the massive financial growth of Snapdeal.com, a portal which began its entrepreneurial journey only two thousand days ago.

Design & People was recently approached by two young online buyers to explain how they were cheated of their hard-earned money by New Delhi-based Snapdeal.com. When we explained about how a business model which has a customer base of 20 million could make 'few errors with deliveries', we were asked to do a simple Google search for the words "Snapdeal Fraud". The results were astonishing and even shocking! Snapdeal.com invites millions of complaints and abuses by its own customers who were cheated by this 'award-winning' shopping portal. You may try this yourself to find out what Snapdeal.com does to its first-time customers in order to meet the sales target of US$1 billion by the end of 2015 — as predicted by its Wharton Business School-educated CEO.

In order to check claims made by the young customers, Design & People decides to purchase a product from Snapdeal.com — a Symmtronics Android Smartphone, probably the only Made in India mobile marketed in the country. The smartphone comes at a discount price of Rs 3099/-. Since most products sold in Snapdeal.com are inferior quality Made in China ones, Design & People chose Symmtronics in order to continue its legacy of boycotting Made in China products to protest China's rights violations in Tibet and in East Turkestan.

Online portals such as Snapdeal.com commit frauds in the most tactful ways — by teaming up with courier companies and resellers for 'strategic delay deliveries' and by manipulating records online. Though many online shopping portals may appear to be on an 'auto-pilot mode', it is well understood that selected employees with clear instructions from the top management are directly or indirectly involved in malpractices — taking advantage of the ignorance of online buyers, mostly first-time buyers. You may note that in March 2013, Directors and Chief Operations Officers of online shopping portals have been arrested in New Delhi for allegedly duping people by taking money from them for articles which were never delivered.

Individual buyers are not the only victims. Two prominent personal-computer makers recently issued an advisory cautioning consumers in India about buying products from Snapdeal.com as it is neither an authorised reseller nor known for selling genuine products. "What we have noticed in the past few months is that some of these sites like Snapdeal.com, largely due to a marketplace kind of a set up, there are a lot of resellers that have cropped up, which are selling at very low predatory prices. These we believe may or may not be an authorised or genuine products," says Director of an internationally-known PC manufacturing firm.

Snapdeal is the Great Indian E-robbery of our times! Act now to stop corporate crimes! Spread the word!

"Largest corporations are training the brightest Indian minds to be corrupt and dishonest, so that they can continue their legacy of unethical business practices that harm our people, environment and society. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is no license to anyone to indulge in corporate crimes."
Sethu Das, Co-founder, Design & People

 TIMELINE 

Slapdeals.com: The Great Indian E-Robbery

March 3, 2014: Design & People places an order for Simmtronics XPAD Q4 at Snapdeal.com at 23:43 hours for Rs 3099/-. Snapdeal confirms the purchase and issues the Order Number: 1776766143. Confirms the payment and emails the Estimated Dispatch Date to Design & People — "On or Before Mar 04, 2014".

March 4, 2014: Snapdeal send an email to the customer with an Order Receipt which shows status as "shipped" and estimated delivery date as "March 6, 2014".

March 5, 2014: Snapdeal sends an SMS alert from "AM-SNAPDL" — "Simmtronics XPAD Q4 Black of Snapdeal Order No: 1776766143 has been HANDED OVER to Bluedart courier. Tracking number is 69073114493 and will reach you ON OR BEFORE Mar 06, 2014. Please check your Snapdeal account or contact Bluedart @ 18602331234 for courier status. Track order on mobile bit.ly/1c5LBto."

March 6, 2014: Blue Dart online tracking service confirms Waybill No: 69073114493. Says "Product Handed Over by the Seller" and issues Reference Number: PI239912656910.

March 7-12, 2014: Blue Dart online tracking system for Waybill No: 69073114493 continues to display status as "Shipment delayed from the source".

March 11, 2014: Design & People contacts Snapdeal 24x7 Customer Care: +91.9212692126 with a complaint. The Snapdeal executives apologises for the delay while refusing to do anything to resolve the crisis. When asked to transfer the call to a higher authority or to Delivery/Logistics Department, they simply refused to do the same by saying "they have no contact with either of the departments." After a 38-minute long conversation, our call was finally transferred to someone by the name "Sandeep" whom we assume is the Snapdeal VP-Marketing, named "Marketeer" by the website. "Marketeer" informs Design & People that "a firm like Snapdel.com cannot rise to this position without the faith of so many of its valued customers." As a response, Design & People informs that "It was one 'Roshan Lal' who sent a simple complaint to Sebi about "illegalities" committed by Sahara Group in raising over Rs 24,000 crore from more than three crore investors. May be we are the 'Roshan Lal' of Snapdeal.com."

March 8, 2014: Design & People complaints to Logistics Department of Snapdeal.com. After a long debate, a complaint number was issued by the Snapdeal Executive — 540911. Simmtronics refused to take a complaint saying "The company has have nothing to do with portals that they suggest their customers to buy products." When Simmtronics refused to take a complaint, Design & People sends an email (sales@simmtronics.com) and fax (+91.11.40570310, +91.11.40570312) to the company with a copy to Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, 'Mastermind' and 'Brainbox' as described by their website respectively. Neither Simmtronics nor Snapdeal responds — possibly admitting the errors.

March 12, 2014: Design & People emails to Snapdeal.com (help@snapdeal.com) informing them about non-delivery. The email was never acknowledged.

March 15, 2014: Blue-Dart changes tracking response. The delivery status is now mentioned as — "Pick up date: March 04, 2014. Contact Customer Service".

March 19, 2014: Blue-Dart Executive Mr Rahul calls up Design & People from his mobile (+91.8589986515) and apologises for the delay caused. He also informs that product is now ready to be delivered. Design & People informs Blue-Dart that it has already sued Snapdeal.com and investigation is underway, hence the product cannot be accepted.

March 20, 2014: Snapdeal.com plays the latest trick by emailing Design & People with a completely different argument — an argument Blue-Dart denies — "Dear Customer, With reference to your complaint number 5409111, we would like to inform you that we would not be able to process your order, as your shipment has been returned by courier due to 'non-serviceability' of your location." An inside source confirms that Snapdeal.com is trying hard to close this case and refund the amount to avoid legal action and publicity.

March 21, 2014: Blue-Dart once again changes Delivery Status as — "Returned To Origin". Issues New Waybill No: 14115394624.

March 24, 2014: Snapdeal emails Design & People informing that "Your order 1776766143 have been cancelled. We at Snapdeal deeply regret the inconvenience caused to a valued customer like you, and extend our heartfelt apologies." Who cancelled the order remains unknown. The reason given by Snapdeal for non-delivery in the latest email also contradicts with the reason mentioned by Snapdeal on March 20, 2014.

Design & People takes the legal path. The organisation sues Snapdeal.com and files a Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) under Article 32 of the Indian constitution demanding a ban on portals engaged in fraudulent practices.

 THE SNAPDEAL MODUS OPERANDI 

Mascot of Slapdeal.com

'Yamdoot' or 'God of Death' mascot created by Draftfcb Ulka for Snapdeal.com TV commercials in 2012

1) Market Culture: Snapdeal works on a commission-basis. It creates nothing, it delivers nothing. It is only a commission-agent which employs about 800 people below the age of 26. The firm does not use the term 'Employee' but 'Team Member' — denying rights and benefits to an 'employee'. The Snapdeal website claims that it is the largest online 'marketplace' which sells one saree in every two minutes and one footware in every 30 seconds. But there is no word about delivery. Snapdeal.com violates one of the core aspects of the Six Sigma concept — "Defect" — by "Failing to deliver what the customer wants".

2) Other People's Money: Imagine the number of individual customers buying products from Snapdeal.com on a daily basis. The company figures say it has about 20,000,000+ registered users as of February 2013. Even if half of its registered users buy one product a month worth Rs 1/-, the company could still make a revenue of Rs 10,000,000 every month — with no investment on infrastructure or people. This is made possible with the company's nexus with unreliable and corrupt 'merchents' across the country. 50pc of the complaints on Snapdeal.com you get to read in the Internet is about non-delivery of products and refund-related issues. Snapdeal.com is one of the biggest violators when it comes to refunds, compensations, unless you cancel your product online or drag the company to a court. We can imagine what would be the fate of thousands and thousands of ordinary Indian shoppers who buy their desired products from this 'award winning' portal. Even when you are reading this, someone, somewhere is getting cheated of their hard-earned savings.

3) Delay Tactics: Is 'delay caused' a situation or a tactic? Delay can never be a 'situation' in today's modernised world. We are living at a time when shopping portals like Amazon.com is deploying unmanned aerial drone vehicles in a project named "Prime Air" to deliver the packages into customers' hands in less than 30 minutes. Delay can only be a "strategy", nothing else. This reminds us of a 'delay strategy' of a private telephone service provider in Mumbai which used to send telephone bills to its thousands of customers late leaving no space for the customer to pay the bill on time. The 'strategic delay' in sending bills to customers was finally exposed by its own customers. The 'delay' makes the customers pay a fine amount of Rs 50/- after the due date — helping the telecom company to earn millions of rupees in cash.

And delays are not delays all the time. Delay means 'Profit' in corporate terms. A simple calculation might prove that. Imagine 10,000,000+ products purchased by shoppers (Half of Snapdeal.com 20,000,000+ registered users) for an average cost of Rs 3000/- are being delayed by 25 days. Who benefits from the 'strategic delay' — growing enterprises like Snapdeal, which has the liberty of illegally keeping a huge sum of interest-free cash (Rs 3,000/- x 10,000,000 users) for an unlimited period — which is usually spent on business expansion and strategic investments. And who empowers such companies — people like us who go after discounted products.

This illegal and unethical business practice should end.

Sign Petition on change.org

 THE VERDICT 

THE above mentioned "Snapdeal.com Test product" was purchased by Design & People on March 3, 2014. The product is not yet delivered to the customer even after 20 days. And there is no sign of any delivery or refund. This is unimaginable in 21st century. Twenty days are enough to travel across the globe; start a business venture like Snapdeal.com or Amazon.com or to even change the course of history. The 'Strategic Delays' are unpardonable. Making customers wait for months and later not refunding their hard-earned money is illegal, criminal and punishable under the Indian Cyber Law. It's time for Snapdeal to correct its mistakes of the past and come out clean to be a truly business leader. Design & People is confident that Wharton Business School and IIT-educated Snapdeal leadership will have the courage and wisdom to change the present situation and also to bring in dignity and sanctity to their respective field of activities.

 CAMPAIGN UPDATES: 

Dell warns shoppers against buying from Snapdeal (April 2014)
Dell has joined the bandwagon of global manufacturers warning people against buying its laptops and tablets from e-commerce website Snapdeal.com. The company has put up a warning against Snapdeal on its website and has asked people restrain from buying any product online as Snapdeal is found to be selling fake products and not refunding money against cancelled orders. Earlier Toshiba, Nikon and Lenovo had also put up notices against Snapdeal.com, but this is the first time a manufacturer has singled out an e-commerce company.

 RESOURCES 

1) Cyber Law of India: An Introduction - Read
2) Ashit Sharma's shopping experience with Snapdeal.com - Watch
3) "Hate Snapdeal" — Facebook Account of Snapdeal customers - Visit
4) Snapdeal Reviews, Fraud and Policies - Read
5) 'Mouthshut.com' Reviews of Snapdeal - Read
6) 'Indian Consumer Complaints Forum' on Snapdeal.com - Visit
7) 'Buying IQ' Review of Snapdeal.com - Read
8) 'National Consumer Complaint Forum' on Snapdeal.com - Read
9) The Hindu: "PC manufacturers warn buyers not to use Snapdeal.com" - Read

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