Update: I wrote this two weeks back but I only got around to publishing it now. That is why, Tuesday actually means 13th August, 2013.
I remember ordering books from Indiaplaza earlier. I immediately understood that it was a tradeoff between getting “mint”, pristine books against books on a discount. A few orders later, I discovered Flipkart and ordered a few books. It came off as a little expensive but there was a reason why I tried them out, can’t remember it right now though. Anyway, when I received the books, I was immensely impressed. The books came in strong packaging, shrink-wrapped, and in case of heavier hard-bound books, bubble-wrapped. No more settling for bent books and shabby corners!
And so Flipkart became the leader for ecommerce in India, for everything from books to diapers, games to clothes. It was well earned, and I was happy for them. This brought in a slew of other ecommerce sites heavily inspired by Flipkart’s methodology on design, process and sophistication, and I was no longer ashamed of Indian websites.
For the very first time, I bought a camera on Flipkart one early Sunday morning (midnight really), and was excited to receive it in 2-3 business days. I had a trip planned and was anxious to bring the camera with me. I had not booked the tickets yet, as I did not know when I would receive the camera, but I had to leave on or before Wednesday. They usually deliver books well within the estimate and I hoped they would do the same here.
Even with that hope, I didn’t really expect my order to progress until Tuesday at least. But that very day, I received a notification that my order was shipped – on a Sunday, within 13 hours of my order! I was really really impressed. By that evening, I saw that the order had moved through the warehouse and it had reached the nearest hub to me on Monday morning. Surely, I was going to get the camera that day!
Unfortunately, the status did not update whole of the morning. Usually, once an item is received at the nearest hub, the delivery starts before noon, but it didn’t happen. I called in to find out what happened. I even offered to pick it up from hub (which was less than 10 km from my residence) if it can’t be delivered that day. I was assured that the camera would be delivered in 24 hours.
I was very sure it would be delivered Tuesday, and I called in at 7 AM to make sure. They again told me 24 hours, which was curious. Having been assured, I let the matter be for then. But then there were no more updates. I had to book tickets and it was difficult getting tickets for late Wednesday (as Thursday was a national holiday). Eventually, I called Flipkart customer care once more and insisted that they give me an option to pick-up. That is when they gave me the contact for eKart Logistics. When I asked them why it was not delivered, they told me that the due date was on Thursday and they kept it on low priority. Quite understandable, of course, and I offered to pick-up and got the address for the hub.
Technically, Flipkart were well within their service agreement of delivering the camera in 2-3 days. But I still couldn’t help feeling angry. I would have more than understood if the camera was still in transit. But if the camera was already at the shipment location, and they can’t send it on priority, they should at least give an option to pick-up. The first three agents I spoke to simply refused this, and I believed them. It was only in the fourth call I got ahead. And eKart Logistics was perfectly helpful in handing the order when I went to pick-up. If they had provided me with this information in the first call, I would have had a clear, stress-free two days and actually enjoyed my trip. On the other hand, if I had not gotten through, I might have been waiting until Thursday which would have completely and unnecessarily ruined my trip.
All in all, Flipkart can still be usually relied on to deliver in time, but in situations like mine, where the delivery is in it’s last leg and then put on hold, remember that you can always go and pick it up from the courier. Their position on prioritizing delivery is quite understandable, of course. But they should not refuse options to pick-up. If anything, they should proactively offer it to give that choice back to the customer.