Flipkart Fiasco

Flipkart is something of a butt of internet jokes at the moment. Meme creators are going after the e-commerce website like nobody’s business. :) (Not that I have anything against them – it keeps me entertained.)

Even ‘The Hindu’ had an article quoting tweets and memes. Other facebook groups like ‘Srini Mama’ are doing a fine job of creating memes that cater to a section of the population (Tamil speaking, tamil movie watching.)

Flipkart Sale: Mega success or epic fail ?

Flip(ped)kart

While the innuendos are adorable, and the memes are truly well thought of, I think the Indian e-consumer needs to get some perspective of things.

Most of people’s crib’s about Flipkart have been around for ages on other e-commerce platforms. Amazon for instance has ridiculously priced items too – of course people make awesome fun of it, and Amazon itself sometimes publicizes it. Read about this watch – specifically the first customer review.

There’s also, Amazon’s own list of awesomely written reviews. There’s also this – especially the horse mask.

A lot of times, there are algorithms in the background that will set the price ridiculously high or ridiculously low. There have been many instances of prices being entered wrong, and the seller not being able to fulfill the order because it would be ridiculous to. Of course, when the prices are low, we aren’t complaining – when the price is accidentally high, instead of contacting the customer care, and trying to resolve the issue, we end up posting it on social media – not at all a wrong thing to do. I guess either way, the retailer ends up correcting the price even if only eventually.

Amazon (in the US) definitely does a better job in terms of the website being up, but they are a software behemoth that knows exactly what they are doing.

Price Changes:

When Amazon slashes prices of items already on discount, they show it as a two-step discount. (i.e., original price, discounted price, further discounted price.) This way people don’t think the prices are being inflated before being offered a discount. But anyone who has used plugin’s like camel know – there is no price guarantee in online e-commerce. The prices vary with the retailer intelligently trying to guess how much a person is willing to pay. So, if indeed the prices go up from time to time, there is nothing to complain about. However, if Flipkart did increase the prices of items beyond reasonable limits of what it was before, only to show deep discounts, that was clearly unethical.

There have also been complaints about the prices of some items on Flipkart being more than competing sites, and also being more than a direct retailer price. Again, nothing new – you will find things like this on Amazon as well. Some resellers price the items the way they want – and Amazon doesn’t control it. If you want it bad enough, and are lazy to do some research, then you will end up paying more.

Out-of-Stock Issues:

As for only a small number of items being available at discount, maybe Flipkart could have done a better job of advertising that – but maybe they didn’t want to kill the buzz. Thanksgiving shopping is similar in the US in terms of availability – the amazing deals like eggsbox (sic!) for $50 – there are probably 5-10 per store. Chances are you won’t get your hands on it. It will take people a couple of years to get used to this, and then they will eventually realize, unless they really must have it – like the Gollum must have his precious, it’s not worth the hassle. That consumer maturity will come with time.

Cancellations

This really has no excuses – you should be able to handle multiple requests coming in at the same time. Anyone who knows anything about transactional databases knows that this cannot and should not happen.

All said and done, a bad day for Flipkart, but the consumer needs to understand that if a discount sounds too good to be true, chances are – it is. Most deeply discounted items are also generally useless. As an interesting after thought, I wonder how much resellers make on products if they can afford to routinely give 40-60% off. Are they selling items at a slight loss when then sell it at 60% off ? Or does it mean goods are extremely marked up ? One wonders.

P.S: I buy some stuff on Flipkart from time to time – especially books and music CD’s. (well, music CD’s because (a) I don’t always like enjoying music for free, and (b) I like lossless music, and there is no website where I can purchase lossless Indian music! (at least not that I know of) ) I also compare prices on amazon.in on the books – and have found that no one website has the best price every single time. It keeps changing.

uShip – ItsOnMyWay Shipping – Motorcycle Moving Review

You can check out the profile of the movers/shippers here:

http://www.uship.com/profile/Itsonmyway/

I wanted to share my experience with using uShip, and using ItsOnMyWayDispatch to ship my bike from Tempe (Phoenix), Arizona to Austin, Texas. I have a 2012 Honda CBR 250R (not the sportiest of bikes, but gets the job done, and has great gas mileage). I was in two minds over whether to try selling it in Phoenix, or have it shipped to Austin. Now, I looked at a few motorcycle shipping websites, and though I’m sure they know what they are doing, and are very good at it, it was costing me $700 to get my bike shipped. Now, bear in mind that if you have a $15,000 CBR1000 RR, or a Harley or something, it makes absolutely good sense. For a $4,500 bike, that’s a substantial fraction of the bike’s cost to make it attractive enough to sell the bike instead of having it shipped.
I then found uShip, and on 09-13-2014, posted an entry there with my requirements, and the price the website suggested. (You can quote higher or lower.) uShip offered to ship my bike for roughly half that price, and suddenly it was attractive enough – and I get to keep my beloved bike instead of selling it. I didn’t have any hard and fast requirements as to when I wanted the bike delivered, but I did want it picked up soon, as I was moving out-of-town. My offer was accepted by ItsOnMyWay shipping on the same day, only a few minutes later (8 minutes to be exact) – wow! Now, I had a couple of extra items I wanted carried with the bike – like a bike jacket, my tank bag, helmet, chain lock, swingarm stand …etc. Had I tried carrying these with me on a flight it would have been one checked luggage worth of stuff. I could have mailed it with USPS, but the Kryptonite chain locks tend to be real heavy – something which would have translated to extra money. The folks at ItsOnMyWay – Cameron and Marvin, were nice enough to be able to accommodate all of that for no extra charge which is really appreciated. I also checked with them to see if they use soft tie down straps, and they did. I wish they would show it better in their pictures though – they are not doing themselves justice with the pictures they have currently on uShip. (something I have told them as well – take some time out, and add good photos of just one bike tied down.)
Pick Up:
The bike was picked up on 09-14, (yes, a mere day after I posted the listing on uShip). Marvin was in touch with me, and after I told him that I would not be available between 11 and 3, he got to my place first while he had planned to come a little later. Again, top-notch customer service. My bike was quickly loaded onto their covered trailer (you can see pictures on uShip), and nicely secured with tie down straps.
Delivery:
The bike was promised to be delivered on 09-19 (which if you think of it, is just 5 days later for a ~1000 mile distance.) I was anyway supposed to come to Austin only on the 17th, so this was wonderful for me. Marvin kept me updated as he was nearing my place, and gave me sufficient time and heads up to be home by the time he arrived. He said he had experienced heavy rains and a flat. The heavy rains I can certainly attest to. Must have been difficult conditions to drive in. The bike was delivered in wonderful condition. I needed to get a 12k mile service done anyway, so I had the bike serviced right after I got it delivered, and it is now running just as wonderfully as before.

Grand Canyon-Rim to Rim Hike

Ok, while a lot of planning went into trying to make this trip happen, it never did, due to unforeseen circumstances. Bummer! Hopefully, we’ll do it someday in the future, and take pride in having done it.

I even had a t-shirt with a QR code embedded in it with a link to this page :) I’m never wearing that t-shirt in public sight till I complete the hike some day, and have a link to that page in here, so that at least some pride can be salvaged if people ever decide to whip out their smart phones, and look up the QR code.

Prep Hike-03-Holbert Trail(SouthMountain)-2014-03-29

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The aim of these posts, was to share some details of the terrain, some logistics such as how to get there, where to park, some of the metrics I collected using a fitness tracking app (Endomondo) – to give a fair idea of what to expect on the hikes if you were to do it. The other idea was also including some snaps taken, and a personal account of what I/we as a group experienced on these hikes – there has to be some fun element to these posts. If it’s just the facts, there are way better resources out there. However, I haven’t found time to do the actual write up’s due to several things keeping me busy. I will hopefully get around to it soon, so that I remember some of the stuff that actually went on.

Prep Hike-02-Piestewa Peak-2014-03-22

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The aim of these posts, was to share some details of the terrain, some logistics such as how to get there, where to park, some of the metrics I collected using a fitness tracking app (Endomondo) – to give a fair idea of what to expect on the hikes if you were to do it. The other idea was also including some snaps taken, and a personal account of what I/we as a group experienced on these hikes – there has to be some fun element to these posts. If it’s just the facts, there are way better resources out there. However, I haven’t found time to do the actual write up’s due to several things keeping me busy. I will hopefully get around to it soon, so that I remember some of the stuff that actually went on.

Prep Hike-01-Butcher Jones Trail-2014-03-15

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The aim of these posts, was to share some details of the terrain, some logistics such as how to get there, where to park, some of the metrics I collected using a fitness tracking app (Endomondo) – to give a fair idea of what to expect on the hikes if you were to do it. The other idea was also including some snaps taken, and a personal account of what I/we as a group experienced on these hikes – there has to be some fun element to these posts. If it’s just the facts, there are way better resources out there. However, I haven’t found time to do the actual write up’s due to several things keeping me busy. I will hopefully get around to it soon, so that I remember some of the stuff that actually went on.

Prep Hike-00-Camelback Mountain-2014-01

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The aim of these posts, was to share some details of the terrain, some logistics such as how to get there, where to park, some of the metrics I collected using a fitness tracking app (Endomondo) – to give a fair idea of what to expect on the hikes if you were to do it. The other idea was also including some snaps taken, and a personal account of what I/we as a group experienced on these hikes – there has to be some fun element to these posts. If it’s just the facts, there are way better resources out there. However, I haven’t found time to do the actual write up’s due to several things keeping me busy. I will hopefully get around to it soon, so that I remember some of the stuff that actually went on.