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Flipkart tightens returns policy, no more automatic refunds

21 April 2017

Home-grown ecommerce leader Flipkart has tightened its return policy for a variety of products sold on its platform.

Facing tough competition from Amazon, the e-retailer aims to cut operational costs through the move, at the risk of making some customers unhappy.

From today on, Flipkart won't offer refunds on a multitude of products like mobile accessories, personal care appliances, computer and camera accessories, office equipment, as well as high-cost items such as mobile phones, large appliances and furniture.

"If a defect is determined within the 10-day period following delivery / installation, a replacement of the same model will be provided at no additional cost," the new policy says.

"If no defect is confirmed, the issue is not diagnosed within 10 days of delivery, a troubleshooting step cannot be performed, or if one replacement has already been provided, you will be directed to a brand service centre to resolve any subsequent issues."

While vendors have welcomed this move, experts believe that it might backfire as a liberal refund policy was one of the main reasons why online shopping boomed in India in a short span of time.

An ecommerce industry executive who tracks Flipkart termed the new refund policy as "penny wise and pound foolish" while speaking with the Economic Times.

He said that his move might give some short-term relief but will alienate customers in the long run.

Earlier, online shopping sites offered full refund and a no-questions-asked policy to assure sceptical Indian customers to buy on their portal.

Sellers who sell their products on Flipkart welcomed the company's decision to tighten its refund policy.

"This is a good move and will reduce unnecessary returns on the platform besides helping the sellers reduce their operational costs. In many instances customers would return product just to get a refund. During a ten day window they would return the product on the tenth day," said a spokesperson of the All India Vendors Association.

The move happens at a time when the country's largest ecommerce firm is in talks with rival Snapdeal for a merger.

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