Is your phone legally shipped but illegally sold?
NEW DELHI: Ever ordered a smartphone from the likes of Amazon and Flipkart and got one with the manual in, say, Chinese? Or ever found a smartphone model online in India that hasn’t been launched in the country? Possibly, yes. And while these phones may have been shipped legally, selling it to consumers in India is illegal.
According to a survey by community platform LocalCircles, 14% of the 23,000 respondents said they have received a handset with the manual in a foreign language, besides English. And 12% of the respondents said they are able to order a phone that is not launched in India from an Indian or international ecommerce website.
“A product not launched in India can be brought to the country after paying all duties and taxes without any issue,” said Navkender Singh, research director at IDC India. “However, selling it through a national or international ecommerce marketplace or a retail store counts as an illegal shipment or sale.”
One such feature phone variant is Nokia 2720 Flip, which is listed on Amazon India at a price of Rs 7,499. But it appears the company hasn’t as yet launched it in the world’s second largest smartphone market. “HMD Global has officially not launched Nokia 2720 Flip in India and hence cannot comment on the authenticity of the phone being sold on the ecommerce marketplace,” an HMD spokesperson told ET in an emailed query. HMD manufactures Nokia phones globally.
For any electronic device to be sold in India, it is mandatory to be registered with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), said Faisal Kawoosa, research analyst at TechArc. Nokia 2720 Flip is not listed under the Compulsory Registration Scheme (CRS) on the BIS portal. Queries sent to Amazon India did not illicit any response till press time.
Flipkart said it ensures stringent product assessment before listing it on its platform and takes proactive action to delist any such seller.
“As part of our onboarding process, sellers have to follow strict guidelines and undergo stringent quality checks, which helps them remain compliant with the laws of the land,” a Flipkart spokesperson told ET in an email.
“We are constantly working with our sellers to ensure that their catalogues are up to date with all the government rules and regulations, and we take swift action in delisting and blacklisting any sellers found to be in violation of Indian laws,” he said.
As per the survey, among the top mobile phone brands, Samsung and Xiaomi devices being ordered online received the most votes—12% and 17%—respectively for carrying a foreign language manual. “Xiaomi is proactive in dealing with customer complaints on social media. Whenever we come across an unauthorised seller who is indulging in any malpractice such as listing Xiaomi phones at a price higher than MRP, we alert the concerned etailer who takes relevant action against the seller,” said a spokesperson for Xiaomi.
They added that this issue too could be covered in the upcoming ecommerce policy and bring a framework for the customs department to ensure that only phones with BIS-CRS are given clearance on ports.