Country's largest e-retailer Flipkart claimed to have got a billion hits for its special sales offer on Monday, but millions of buyers felt cheated on its discounts, as they alleged the prices quoted were higher, even as its portal crashed during the day.
"The prices printed in its advertisements in leading newspapers on many electronic products and consumer goods did not match with the rates mentioned on the portal when I logged to place an order," complained Mahesh Inchal, a registered user with Flipkart. The social media was abuzz with such complaints.
Another registered user in the city, who wanted to buy a colour television set, told IANS here that she could not log onto the portal, as she got "error" message and gave up after repeated attempts.
"I tried to log into the website. But the system did not accept. To my surprise, I found other e-portals like Snapdeal.com offering the same product at a lesser price than what Flipkart quoted - offering at a discount," said the user who did not want to be identified.
As the online traffic surged for the day-long special sales that began at 8 am, the company's portal (Flipkart.com) crashed late afternoon, resulting in outrage against the e-retailer in the social media for the website being inaccessible for hours after 2 pm and inflating prices before offering discounts.
"We got a billion hits on our site today (Monday) and achieved our 24-hour sales target of $100 million (Rs 615 crore) in gross merchandise volume (GMV) in just 10 hours," the city-based e-commerce major said in a statement.
As customers were desperate to buy after seeing the hype Flipkart built over the days on its special offers with bumper discounts, many of them logged out of its portal after feeling cheated by the difference in the prices it offered vis-a-vis offered by others.
"For instance, Flipkart advertised that it was offering Samsung tablet II at Rs 1,390, which is one-tenth of its retail price of Rs 13,990. But when I logged in to place an order, the price quoted did not match with its offer. I felt cheated and logged out," said Sunil Kumar, a techie with a leading IT firm in the city.
Responding to the complaints of the portal crashing, a company spokesperson told IANS that "there was an internal server issue due to which we had problem in receiving orders online for some time due to surge in traffic".
"We have rectified the glitch and increased the capacity. The site is on and accessible," the spokesperson told IANS later.
As Monday's date - October 6 or 6.10 coincided with 610, the flat number from where its co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal began their journey in 2007 to float the country's first e-commerce start-up, Flipkart offered a host of products and gadgets on huge discounts to mark the "Big Billion Day".
"The Big Billion Day is an unprecedented day for us, as this is the biggest sale ever in India. We are delighted by the overwhelming response from our customers since 8 am," the Bansals said in a statement.
The e-retailer boasts of 22 million registered users with four-million daily visits and delivers five million shipments a month.
"With a range of exciting offers on quality products at disruptive prices available throughout the sale period, we have created history in Indian e-commerce", the company asserted.
The company deployed 10,000 field staff to ensure all transacted orders are delivered to customers on time.
Among products on sale were mobiles, laptops, cameras, watches, large appliances, clothes, shoes, toys and bags at heavy discounted prices.
In promos, the company said it would offer multiple items at Re 1, smartphones at 30 per cent discount, laptops from Rs 15,000 onwards and 50 per cent discount on fashion, perfumes and toys. It also promised great offers on some of its exclusive brands like Xiaomi, Motorola and Asus.
With 15 million products across 70 categories, including books, media, consumer electronics and lifestyle on sale, Flipkart offers delivery services like in-a-day guarantee across 50 cities and same-day-guarantee in 13 cities across the country.
The company raised $1 billion (Rs 6,015 crore) July 29 in fresh capital from global venture funds for long-term strategic investments, especially in mobile technology.