Flipkart Drags Nikon To Court Over Cautioning Consumers Against Shopping From Online Portals
The war over warranty for products bought via online portals has resumed; and this time there is some serious legal implications.
Last year in the month of June, Nikon had put an advisory note on their website, stating that Flipkart and Snapdeal are not their authorized partner and indirectly informed all that no warranty would be applicable to products purchased from such ‘online portals’.
The advisory note read: “PLEASE NOTE THAT E-COMMERCE WEBSITES LIKE FLIPKART, SNAPDEAL ARE NOT OUR AUTHORIZED PARTNER/DEALER, WE ADVISE YOU TO CHECK THE WARRANTY ENTITLEMENTS WHILE BUYING FROM ONLINE PORTALS.”
Flipkart is extremely peeved over singling out among other ecommerce portals, and have decided to take legal action. As per reports emerging, they have filed a legal case against Nikon in Karnataka High Court as on August 3, 2015. The next hearing is scheduled on August 21, 2015.
A Flipkart spokesperson said, “They have singled us out and they cannot make such statements.. We are selling the same product and therefore, we are asking the high court to restrain Nikon from publishing the statement on their website.”
Flipkart also claimed that such advisory note against ecommerce firms is against free trade & commerce.
Nikon has confirmed that they have received a legal notice from advocate, and they are studying it right now. They offered no further comment.
Snapdeal, which has also been mentioned by Nikon in this advisory note, has not taken any action to remove it’s name. However, one spokesperson from Snapdeal shared that since all products sold on their platform carry ‘the same genuine and legitimate title’, hence they are eligible for warranty and replacement conditions, just like an offline buyer is eligible.
But from Nikon’s note, it doesn’t seem so.
Last year, Snapdeal had filed a similar case in court against Kaff, a company which manufacturers kitchen appliances over an advisory note published on their website against ecommerce shopping.
Companies Which Refuse to Provide Warranty for Online Shoppers
Nikon or Kaff are not the first companies to post such warning against ecommerce portals; the trend had started since offline retailers openly demonstrated against online retailers for cutting off their margins and decreasing their sales volume. Unable to cope the new age VC-backed startups who are willing to sell products below MRP to gain traction, offline retailers are now resorting to other tactics, in order to stop the on-slaught of digital economy.
In 2013, NetGear became the first such company to stop offering warranty for purchases made via ecommerce portals.
After Nikon’s advisory note published last year, Lenovo and Toshiba declared that they will not offer any warranty over their online products sold via ecommerce portals. Even Dell, whose entire business model is based over Internet based orders warned their customers not to buy from Snapdeal; there was no mention of Flipkart or any other ecommerce site.
The same year, Gionee cautioned buyers against online purchases.
In May this year, LG and Videocon, two prominent electronics major decided to stop offering sales support for those products which are bought online. In fact, as per a study, more than 54% of all products sold online are denied any warranty!
Such issues are arising because Rs 1 lakh crore worth ecommerce industry in India is functioning without any regulations or norms, which generally form the backbone of any commercial industry. Good news is that Govt. is finally recognizing the importance of this new age economy, and issues related to taxes, FDI and customer support will be sorted out soon.
Until then, ecommerce firms will have to fight it out the opposition on their own; changes are, afterall, always scary for most of the people (read offline retailers).
We condemn this decision by Nikon to put advisory note against Flipkart and Snapdeal, and we hope that better sense prevails, and they withdraw it to give both online and offline retail a fair playing field.