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The reason why E-Commerce does not grow in India !

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I have come across so many example like this in last few years, that I am even surprised that there are still people who rely on buying things (sans railway, plane tickets) on the internet.

The ecommerce market in India is small and it will go down even further, if the the kind of service these online vendors give, remains the same.

Here is the story. My friend – who is in US – contacted me a few days back, saying that he had purchased a gift voucher from Window2India (A Times group company ) for his sister’s birthday of Rs. 2000 and that it had not been sent – My first reaction to it was Offcourse – try to get in touch with their customer support, they should be able to take action.

Now, after nearly a month of many mails back and forth, my friend has neither got a refund nor his sister has recd. the gift voucher !

Just see the mail trail to understand what I am saying – The biggest surprise to me is that the Vendor is a Times group company!!

First mail of order placed on April 2nd

Dear removed,

Thank you for placing an order with Window2india. Details of your order are as below:

Product Name:Big Bazaar Rs. 2000 Voucher ,Product Price:1900.80,Product Quantity:1,SuborderId:8215

Order Id: removed

Total Amount: 1900.80

You can track the status of your orders in the My Orders link under the My Accounts section

In case you have not initiated your payment please click on the link below to complete the payment.
Click Here
or Copy and Paste the below link your browser

Warm Regards,

Window2india Team

Follow-up mail on April 9th

Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2009 9:47:37 AM
Subject: Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Hello,

I had placed the order on Apr 2nd and had asked to deliver it on Apr 8th.The receiver has not yet got it.May i know why this delay and when can i expect the gift to be delivered?

Thanks,

Another mail on April 13th (its been 11 days and no reply from Windows2India team

Date:   Monday, April 13, 2009  04:31 PM
To:   [email protected] ([email protected])
Cc:   [email protected]([email protected])
Subject:  Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Hello,
   Is window2india.com a part of TimesofMoney Ltd?I have not got any reply for my query posted since last 4 days.Can you please help me escalating this to the right level.
Thanks,

Finally a reply from Windows2India

Sent: Monday, April 13, 2009 8:16:40 AM
Subject: RE:’TOML=004-372-408′ Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Dear name removed,

Thank you for writing to us.

With regards to your e-mail, we would like to inform you that we have received your query and have forwarded the same to our concerned team.

We would revert to you at the earliest.

Your patience and trust in us would be highly appreciated.

Should you need any clarifications, e-mail us at [email protected]om

Warm Regards,

Ashita Raju

Window2India Team

My friend thought, finally someone at windows2india has heard him and is taking immediate action on his issue.

Date:   Monday, April 13, 2009  07:59 PM
To:   Window2India ([email protected])
Subject:  Re: Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Thanks for the update Ashita.Pls revert back ASAP.

He gets a mail next day saying the voucher will be despatched on 16th April. My friend was still fine, even though his sisters birthday was long gone, but he was happy – “better late than never”

Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 10:20:30 AM
Subject: RE:’TOML=004-372-408′ Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Dear name removed,

Thank you for writing to us.

With regards to your e-mail we would like to inform you that your order id 1000010248 would be dispatched to your beneficiary on April 16, 2009 as the vouchers were out of stock.

Inconvenience caused to you is highly regretted.

Kindly confirm the delivery of the order and revert to us incase of any issues. We would be happy to assist you.

Should you need any clarifications, e-mail us at [email protected]

Warm Regards,

Ashita Raju

Window2India Team

But 16th April came and went nothing  happened, really pissed off, he wrote this mail

Date:   Friday, April 17, 2009  12:46 AM
To:   Window2India ([email protected])
Cc: [email protected]([email protected])
Subject:  Re: Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Hello Ashita,

Has the gift voucher been dispatched yet?If not pls refund my amount back to my bank account.

It is really unfortunate that a company like window2india affiliated to Times Group has no means of proper communication.I had placed the order on 2nd April and it took you 12 days to communicate that the voucher is out of stock.I had indented to gift this voucher on a occasion and it really doesn’t make sense to send the same, a week after that!!

Thanks,

So what reply does he get, an auto responded message

Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 8:37:48 AM
Subject: RE:’TOML=004-372-408′ Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Dear name removed,

Thank you for writing to us.

With regards to your e-mail, we would like to inform you that we have received your query and have forwarded the same to our concerned team.

We would revert to you at the earliest.

Your patience and trust in us would be highly appreciated.

Should you need any clarifications, e-mail us at [email protected]om

Warm Regards,

Ashita Raju

Window2India Team

He responds

Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 11:17:31 AM
Subject: Re: ‘TOML=004-372-408’ Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Pls refund back the money for this gift voucher to my account ASAP.There is no point taking this conversation ahead.

Thanks,

Would you believe that after more 5 days they again respond back with and Auto-responder mail. Now this is such a shocker !!!!

Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 10:58:45 AM
Subject: RE:’TOML=004-372-408′ Re: Details of your order placed with Window2india

Dear name removed,

Thank you for writing to us.

With regards to your e-mail, we would like to inform you that we have received your query and have forwarded the same to our concerned team.

We would revert to you at the earliest.

Your patience and trust in us would be highly appreciated.

Should you need any clarifications, e-mail us at [email protected]om

Warm Regards,

Ashita Raju

Window2India Team

 

My friend mailed me on the 30th and gave me his mail trail and nothing had happened till then !

Now what is it that he can do further ?

Infact, it is not about Rs. 2000, but about the important occasion for which he has sent and to top it, they are least bothered !!!

How can E-Commerce survive in India like this – And let me tell you this is not one-off incident!!

Question to readers – What should he do now?

P.S:- There seem to be many such complaints about them!

  1. […] example when it comes to customer service. Before Flipkart came in, customer service in ecommerce was a joke in India. I would not be exaggerating if I said that they were the ones who showed the path to others on how […]

  2. Mohit says

    Add Indiaplaza to the list . It is one of the most pathetic e-commerce websites ever.They have a history of deliaying delivery by months and yet they are working with absolute impunity. I am surprised as to how these companies are multiplying like mosquitos and there’s no supervisory body to control this menace.They are acting like they are not answerable to anyone.

    Has anyone found any means through which we can take a legal action against such organisations?

  3. Vijay Rana says

    Arun, a great example. This is quiet common story. For a moment imagine the internal working of this company, I am sure poor Ishita cannot go to her bosses and do anything about the refund. Even our big private companies bebave like public sector. Processes are never straight. So once you are stuck you have had it. Short-termism has blinded India.

  4. Sudhakar Ranipet says

    Having lived out of the country for a lot many years, I somehow got into the habit of online shopping. I came back to India for a short stint and here is one of my horrifying experiences with Rediff shopping.
    I saw an ad of Arrow brand premium shirts and bought them online. Rediff shopping does not allow you to check the consignment without paying. Strange but true! The transaction is on COD. I was shocked to see that they sent me some shirts which had no Arrow tagname, and that too filthy looking cheap stuff which are sold on the pavements of either Delhi or Mumbai. Rattled at this I started sending frantic emails, but the B did not respond.
    It is then I played a dirty prank on them. I again ordered expensive items this time and gave a wrong address which had a back door to escape. One of my persons collected the consignment and asked the fellow to wait and slipped away. I dont know if that fellow is still waiting there to collect the money. Its been 2 years!!!!
    Hip-Hip-Hurray!!!!

  5. Vinod says

    I think some of what is being said is correct but needs to be seen in the Indian context. A company like eBay has been around for may years and is grwoing but is not very big yet.

    It all comes back to credit card usage online, Indian mentality of touch and feel and finally wanting to meet and negotiate before buying.

    So the better option for ecommerce is a classifieds format like which is simple and takes care of such issues people may have. I use a site called http://www.quikr.com and is pretty neat and simple. But there is not much shopping type items there and would like sellers of new products to start selling on this platform making it easier for me and others like me

  6. Bonny Jose says

    Hi,
    I recently had a similar experience with the renowned webhosting company net4india(www.net4.in) I tried to register two domain names through their online registration system. I got a suucessful registartion message & accepted the payements, here again Rs 2000 for two .tel domains. After two days I got a message that your attempt failed and the domains are not available for registartion.
    Surprised by the message again I checked the status of the domain, it was available for registartion in net4.
    Then I tried for refund,asked me to create a ticket and submit your complaint.
    But the system didnt respond and show some error message.
    I contacted the customercare, they scolded mefor using the new version of their website and asked me to click a link on the homepage to go to the old version and do it there.
    I obeyed, but again same error. Contacted customer care,each time different people different answers, they never connect to the same operator who answered me last time.
    Now its more than two months, I dont have any idea to deal with such people.

  7. Arun Prabhudesai says

    @nimesh and @sumedh Again, I am not saying that all of the vendors have problems all time. The point of this post is that majority of vendors have lots of issues with customer support. I can safely say that atleast 3-4 transactions out of 10 have problems which is an alarmingly high number – and I take this as one of reasons why e-commerce is not grown in India – people just dont feel safe, thanks to these issues.

  8. Sumedh says

    There are many good sites too…
    For example, I always purchase my books from flipkart.com…
    And I have never been frustrated so far…They always deliver on time and the shipping is free…
    But of course, they focus on one thing, books…that helps a lot…

    Managing hundreds of different merchants who don’t give a damn about the customer is hard…in fact, this is true in general about offline purchases in India as well…unless you buy a branded product, you can’t hope for quality and efficient customer service…comparing India to US in any departments of the industry wouldn’t be prudent…

  9. Nimesh Bhandari says

    Dear Arun,

    I don’t think that this one of incident can be a reason for the state of e-commerce in India. My experience with e-commerce has been good except for one instance (where it was Indiatimes again !). I believe the market size of e-commerce being small has more to do with low internet penetration, credit-card penetration etc. (reasons which we are all familiar with !) rather than one or two incidents of bad customer service.

    Here is the details of harrasment I faced from Indiatimes :-
    I purchased airline ticket (Kingfisher airlines) from Indiatimes and never got the PNR for the tickets. Only after repeated email attempts where I cced all my friends / accquiantances in the mail written to Indiatimes and Kingfisher when I got my money back. And to my surprise what I found that half the money which was debited to my credit card was again credited by Indiatimes a month later. How can anybody credit money from my credit card without informing me !

    thanks,
    nimesh

  10. Arun Prabhudesai says

    @ravi somehow, if I think I cannot recollect a single standalone vendor who is outstanding in their service. whereas like @Abhilash Khushwala said, I think for me only place whereas you can get some amount of gaurantee is Ebay. Their process itself ensures that vendor does not screw up, otherwise his reputation goes down, and eventually his business as well.

    @Popat I think you are absolutely right, Times has deteriorated over last few years..

  11. Popat says

    I am shocked and surprised that you wrote “The biggest surprise to me is that the Vendor is a Times group company!!”. It may be because of you never read news on timesofindia.com! Try some day and compare timesofindia.com with hindustantimes.com & indianexpress.com then you will find the Times of India is a Foolish News Paper !!!!!!!!!! Even ICICI Bank inspires customers to utilise more internet than Bank Branch but they do not answer properly via mail !!!

  12. Abhilash Kushwaha says

    The service provided by most of the e-commerce stand alone sites is horrible. If you need to buy online the best place is to go with a site like ebay where you can read the reviews and make your decision. Buying product for an e-commerce site is putting too much trust on the website no matter how big a brand name.

    Additionally, I think stand-alone e-commerce business (something that you find on ebay) should provide better service than a big brand corporate house. The reason for this is simple: e-commerce may not be a big revenue generator for a big corporate house and they do not really care about its performance. In case of small businesses this may be a big (or only) source of their income. They have to be more responsive or else they will get negative feedback that might impact their future business.

  13. Ravi says

    It is not the case that all ecommerce entities in India are bad. It is a very tough job to do ecommerce successfully outside urban pockets and those that do deserve full credit.

    A group like Times has a head start due to deep pockets. They should find it easier to be a high quality provider if they are serious than say a startup. But it is typical of an oversized, arrogant corporate entity to try to put a finger into every pie in sight just to appear to be a great business.

    The key is to evangelize against such brands and for the alternatives who lack the resources and have the intent for good customer service rather than those who are the other way round.

  14. Arun Prabhudesai says

    @vijay …I 100% second that opinion. I think we have not yet understood the importance of customer service.
    @arun Let me tell you one thing – I am putting this after probably coming across many such cases. Infact out of the last 10 cases I have heard, 7-8 of them have sworn never to buy anything online again. It is either delivery issue, quality issue, time issue, payment issue. It just DOES NOT happen that things go smoothly !! I think it was a high time, we bought such stuff to fore – probably our bit of educating customers & vendors as well about the importance of this whole thing.
    @joseph & @saurabh fully agree to that
    @sharad yes it is a time group company and you are right Times of Money is the a payment gateway among other things.
    @sudeep I feel for you…I really do. I had such an experience last year as well – think if it is really big high quality high price domain and u r unable to renew ur own domain…sh** !!

  15. The reason why E-Commerce does not grow in India ! http://tinyurl.com/d3zok9

  16. Sharad says

    I think your are confusing Times of Money – with owning this particular website.
    Times of Money is a payment provider, much like CC Avenues .
    I am not aware, if times of india – ever runs such a site. But maybe i could be wrong :)

  17. Saurabh says

    What can one expect from a company which has pedestrian top management who neither know technology nor business?Every company in this group is equally notorious for such type of service.

  18. Joseph says

    The only way around is to name & shame such people. India has so many highly educated customers, yet the customer service is probably the worst in the world.

  19. Arun says

    I don’t fully agree with what all you written about Indian e-commence , and with mere one incident you can not generalize whole industry and more over Arun [owner of trak.in] claims that trak.in is leading business blog , then i would say at such big level you should not paste such article where reader can not make any conclusion or worth while to read it .

    let me tell you my background , i am software engineer work for world largest e-commerce company.you wont believe in a day we receive thousand of mails for different merchant with a wide variety of problem.its the condition when e-commerce is there from many years where as it is in infant stage in india.

    so if they still not perfect then how can an infant be…

    Please do little more research come with stats and then put these stats here so that it make some sense toreadrs

  20. Ravi says

    People do seem to over rate anything related to the Times of India a former British Raj newspaper now India’s leading tabloid aping a Rupert Murdoch owned newspaper. That said, they do have a brand name amongst Indian elites and a growing upper middle class. Also, being a large sized heavy paper, the raddi value is quite good.

    Unfortunate for your friend to choose them from amongst what was available. Living in the US creates an illusion about the efficiency of e-commerce outside this region. Till e-commerce sites do not have a comprehensive about us section i.e. the actual person who runs the show, clear contact names with contact details, etc. it is not worth running through all the customer support hoops. Better to take a walk or drive and do it manually or in this case through a local contact.

  21. Vijay Rayapati says

    This really shows the sad state of customer service in India. Why the hell our guys (Indian businesses) doesn’t understand that – customer service is more important than core product.

    Get Real or Get Extinct.

    -Vijay Rayapati

  22. Sudeep DSouza says

    Indiatimes as a brand seems to be going from bad to worse. I used another service of theirs called indiatimes domains to buy a domain and I just realised that my domain expired and I did not even get a single reminder that it was going to expire. Worse when I tried to renew my domain name it first told me that my password had expired and that they sent me a new one which I never got and then when I tried forgot password that also didnt elicit any mail from them. Finally I tried mailing their customer support and the mail bounced back. Last I tried to call them and no one picked up the phone. Guess I will have to wait till tomorrow to resolve this.

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