How could Flipkart respond to the open letter to its founder by a dissatisfied customer

Today, I came across an open letter written to Sachin Bansal, CEO/Founder, Flipkart.com. In this letter, the writer (Sushrut Bidwai) talks about his experience of trying to get his laptop replaced by Flipkart. He also talks about the attitude of the service staff and how they left him feeling frustrated (repeatedly).

This open letter has also induced responses from other customers of flipkart to come in the open and admit that they also had similar experiences when it came to refunds or replacements.

Now, flipkart has the following options:

  1. Pretend that nothing happened and continue business as usual.
  2. Take notice of the service failure, take corrective actions to ensure that this is fixed at the earliest. Then continue business-as-usual.
  3. Put corrective measures in place, reach out to Sushrut and sort out his matter. Also, reach out to the others who have indicated that they went through a similar experience and sort their matter as well.

These steps can address the issue at hand. However, can Flipkart manage to use this incidence, turn it on its head into a great PR activity for itself? I think it can. The question is how? If I were in Sachin’s place, I would write an open response to this letter as below:

Dear Sushrut

First things first. I am really sorry for the harassment caused to you in your transaction with flipkart. I also know that no matter what I say or do, your 40 days of productive time will never be recovered. As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand what a difference such a time frame can have on a business.

However, I also wanted to thank you for taking the time and writing such a long and detailed letter to me. I want to let you know that I personally take responsibility for the actions of my employees and apologize to you for the bad treatment that you have received from Flipkart.

Just so that you know, your open letter has had the following effects on flipkart:

  1. We have identified the reasons for this service breakdown and have put in place processes and policies to ensure that such an incident never happens again with any other customer. Thanks to you, the service levels at Flipkart will go up a couple of notches which will be appreciated by our future customers. 

I would like to invite you to my office so that I can explain how we have ensured that such an experience never happens with any other customer.

Also, I would request you to address our employees on your distress during this period. I hope that this will make our employees more aware, conscious and inspire them to provide better service to our customers. 

As a token of gratitude & appreciation (for having taken the time, put in the effort to bring this to our notice and helping all our future customers), I would like to offer to you one book, free of cost, delivered to your home every month, for the next 5 years. You can pick the books and we will deliver it. I know that this can not in anyway bring back the time you lost due to the issue, but hope that you will benefit from the knowledge you gain from the books. 

I would also like to take this opportunity and request all our customers to continually engage with us and continue to provide us your valuable feedback. We would like you to believe that delighting you at every interaction is our only objective. Anything short of that is not expected. So, if you think, we are slipping, please provide a helping hand and let me know. I will be ever grateful to you for this help. You can reach me at (his email ID). 

Looking forward to meeting Sushrut and delighting all our other customers. 
Your’s 
Sachin Bansal 
Note: This is my way to respond to such a situation. Let’s see what action Sachin takes (or ignores).

18 Replies to “How could Flipkart respond to the open letter to its founder by a dissatisfied customer”

  1. Just note that Sachin Bansal never replied to my email (same letter) and only 2 weeks after going unnoticed I have made it public. Having said that – when some one ignores close communication but responds to public communication then it signals two things IMHO –
    1. Unless you have access to public mediums and willing to use it, then only we will respond.
    2. Otherwise we will keep doing shit and not clean it up.
    3. And if you did go public, instead of being embarrassed and ashamed of their mistakes they want to turn it into another PR stunt!

    Almost 99.9999% Indian consumer would have taken the refund and kept cursing flipkart offline. Unfortunately thats the reason why we keep seeing these incompetent, unethical businesses sprung all around us.

    1. I completely agree to your thoughts here. My response was probably one of the ways that Sachin could have responded to the situation and still make some amends. I am sure that a lot of customers would still keep cursing flipkart after taking the refund, but I guess the intensity of the complaint does go down a bit and Flipkart could have gained some supporters for having tried to own up their mess.

      All said and done, it is always better to not get into such a mess at all in the first place. 😉

  2. This post is in regards to the issue that i am facing with the product that i received on 24th May 2012.The handset received is having severe heating issues and it gets heated up to that extent that you cannot hold the handset with your bare hands. I checked the online reviews and found that the handset has nominal heating issues and that too when there are numerous applications running in the background. I restarted the phone even formatted it twice to remove all the application and then try to check if the issue still persists.
    I formatted the handset, closed the internet on the phone and then used the phone for 3 minutes on call. The phone got heated upto that extent that i could not hold it in my hands for next minute and had to use the headsets to speak over the call.
    I contacted the customer support on 26th may via email and received no response accept for the auto-responder. When contacted them via call they verified the complete issue over the call and then sent the below email:

    Dear Ankur,

    Greetings from Flipkart!

    Order ID : OD20522142631

    Mobile : HTC ChaCha (Black)( Sandisk 8GB Micro SD card )

    Kindly perform the necessary trouble shooting steps given below.

    when you use several applications at once your phone requires more power and may heat up. This is normal and should not affect your phone’s lifespan or performance.

    By charging the battery up to 8 hrs for the first time and subsequently for 2 hrs.
    Charging the battery only after complete discharge of battery.
    Do not remove the battery often.
    Do not remove the battery more often repetition.
    Leaving applications running in the background increases the demand on battery power. Close application you do not use.

    Tip on the Battery: When you unpack the phone for the first time, the battery is not fully charged. It takes three charging-discharging cycles for the battery to reach its peak performance. so, for the better performance of battery it is recommended that you fully Charge and Discharge battery at least three times.

    I already informed them over the call that i have tried everything to check if this issue is due to my negligence or there is a manufacturing defect still they sent me the above response. I responded them immediately that i have tried every possible thing however this is not normal as the phone gets heated up on charging as well. I was afraid to use this phone further as it might burst or damage my ear. I stopped using the phone and continuously followed them up for getting this handset replaced.

    Finally when i heard nothing, i called them up today to get the refund and i was told that the best can be done is that the battery can be replaced and that too will take 7 to 8 working days.
    This is a brand new phone which i have purchased and for next one month i cannot even use it.

    This policy is not fair and now i will show you guys how bad a customer can be.
    Order ID OD20522142631

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your experience with Flipkart. I dont understand how they can be so blatantly ignorant about such customer service issues. This will only impede in their growth plans.

      Will they only take this up if one of their competitors pick up these threads and start using them in their advertising messaging to overtly showcase their bad service? I don’t know.

      One thing for sure is that the investors or the board of directors at Flipkart need to step in to stem this rot before it gets too deep and they loose their investments..

      I can only hope that someone does something to ensure that this doesn’t happen..

      Meanwhile, my heart goes out to you and other customers like you..

  3. Hi Sachin,

    Please note that my initial experience with flipkart.com has been really bad. I had planned to reward my employees with some gifts and I choose to order some products in flipkart. However choosing flipkart has resulted the below issues.

    a) Delivering Expired Stocks
    b) Cancelling a stock stating out of stock after a due date

    Order Number : OD20707020808

    Product Description Expected Delivery Date Comments
    Bajaj Platini PX 104 L LED Emergency Light (White) By Jul 16, 2012 Issued Expired Stock
    Skullcandy S2DUDZ-072 In-the-ear Headphone By Jul 11, 2012 Cancelled due to out of stock

    I would like to know if your employees are following the right protocol before making it available in flipkart.com website. How can you source a stock which has expired 10 months before and how can you publish the product in the website if it is out of stock?

    PS : Could you please let me know what action do you want me to take at this time? Filling a law suit for delivering the expired stocks or get an immediate solution for this issue.

  4. I had a bad situation with Flipkart once. I thought it was a one- off case, and shopped again. Big mistake!
    I’ve met Bansal once, in 2007 as a fellow start-upper before they went big, so I felt some loyalty to support them.

    I wrote to them. They sent a standard template which did not answer my question.
    I called them. In effect, they said ‘we have your money now, and there is nothing you can do about it. La la la’

    Refused to let me speak to a supervisor, saying supervisors are not going to help me !?

    I wrote about it here .. Filosuffer.Wordpress.com . It still is less than 24 hrs that my complaint was refused, so I can be funny/sarcastic and still hope they fix it. If they don’t, I guess it’s consumer court time.. 10K isn’t something to write off to experience.

    -A Startup CEO

  5. Im prabhu from tamilnadu
    i have ordered a Iberry auxus 03g tablet on 25th december 2012 for a Cash on delivery
    i got that product on 26th december 2012
    my parents got the package and gave the money to courier boy..my parents didnt opened it because i said not to open because i should open it first.
    i came home from college and took the parcel it was completely weightless and
    surprisingly opened the package
    the packing was normal.
    but the tablet’s box seal was opened and lamination around that box was also somewhat peeled off and i was shocked to see that
    after opening a really frustrating thing happened the tablet’s place was free and i checked below the accessories it was not there too…
    i just got really devasted by flipkart
    my money’s gone and i got a empty piece of Sh*t box.
    immidiately i called 1800 102 3547
    we had a conversation of about the above things they said we will get you in 24 hrs time..
    then i said if bad things happens defenitly i am going to sue your company .
    still 5 hours left to get replied but i didnt got reply from now.
    i am going to sue this stupid company and i’m going to make their company down profitable.
    they should refund my money and for my breaking mind.
    F that Flipkart company.. please post this on your blog……
    make them down…i am really disappointed by flipkart’s service

    1. Sorry to hear about your experience, Prabhu. Hope that flipkart resolves this issue soon. However, I suggest that till you get a definitive response, it would be better for you to keep patience ( though I know it’s easier said than done).

      Take care and do let us know if there are any further developments in your case.

      Thank. Take care!

  6. With the heavy heart I have to write this on this blog that I have been targeted by flipkart by giving flpkart points and without intimating me and I have to suffer the same issue all over again. No doubt FLIPKART is also CHEATING MANY INOCENT CUSTOMER’S AND HAVE NO COURTESY TO EVEN REPLY ON EMAILS SENT BY CUSTOMERS.

    Order ID- OD30501071855 [Incident: 130503-006478]

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