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The real price of booking the world’s ‘cheapest’ iPhone

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Nikhil Bansal has just received a cheque of Rs 1,090 from Snapdeal. He was supposed to have received a heavily-discounted Rs 68-priced iPhone that he purchased on the website, but that order was cancelled by the e-commerce giant. After the dispute went through district and state consumer forums, both of which ruled in Bansal’s favour, Snapdeal has now approached the apex consumer forum. The matter will be heard on May 3.

Bansal, a 20-year-old from Sangrur, Punjab, is an engineering student at Punjabi University, Patiala. Like his fellow mates, he is a fan of online shopping with a special fondness for iPhones. Yet, his year-and-a-half long battle against Snapdeal over a price too-good-to-be-true is anything but ordinary.

It started on March 31, 2014, when Bansal, then awaiting his class 12 results, looked for an iPhone online. To his delight, he managed to find a 16GB iPhone 5S (gold) for a mere Rs 68 — a discount of Rs 46,651 — on Snapdeal. “I saw the price and ordered immediately. I even got a receipt of confirmation. But later, I received another email from them (Snapdeal), cancelling the order,” Bansal says over the phone from Patiala. Seeking details, he emailed customer service, only to be informed that there had been a technical glitch and hence the order could not be honoured.

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So what was his next step? Logging on to Flipkart, Snapdeal’s competitor, and ordering another iPhone 5S at full price. But simultaneously, he approached the consumer forum at Sangrur to file a complaint against Snapdeal. Explaining the rationale behind his family’s decision, Bansal says, “I didn’t have a problem paying the money. Still, my parents felt that we should go to the consumer forum. What if a product is sometimes overpriced and money is not returned after the transaction has gone through?”

In March 2015, Sangrur’s District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum ruled in Bansal’s favour and Snapdeal was asked to give the iPhone to Bansal at Rs 68. They were also asked to pay Rs 2,000 as a consolidated amount for compensation and litigation expenses.

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Snapdeal appealed against the ruling in the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Punjab, but the appeal was dismissed on January 4, 2016. More than two months on, Snapdeal has appealed the ruling at the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

Incidentally, Bansal has moved on to iPhone 6, twice over. “I’d bought an iPhone 6 earlier. It got damaged. So,” he says, “I bought another one.”

And what is his social media standing? The run-in with Snapdeal made him popular. “Before the news broke, only my roommates knew about the case. Once everyone found out, they started saying, ‘Tu famous ho gaya’. Old school friends contacted me on Facebook after reading about it,” Bansal says.

But despite the kerfuffle, Bansal holds no grudge against Snapdeal as he clarifies his stand, “There is no issue as such. It’s not like I won’t shop from Snapdeal because of the case.” Snapdeal did not respond to emails seeking comment on the issue.
Source: TOI / ET Bureau.
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