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Indrajit Gupta
Founding Editor, Forbes India

Flipkart CEO responds to our cover story

Sachin Bansal, the CEO of Flipkart, wrote to me over the weekend reacting to our cover story on the company. What he wrote to me is re-produced below ad verbatim. My response follows after his note.

Dear Indrajit,

The timing of the mail may be awkward, given that we’re on that unfortunate cover story of Forbes this week, but could I please take a few minutes of your time in sharing my views on the story?

In the context of this letter, I’d not like to offer views on Rohin’s assumptions on our business model, our core value of customer obsession or funding – as a seasoned journalist, he has every right to question and offer his opinions on those factors. Instead, let me focus only on one part of the story that I personally found disconcerting – our culture.

When we agreed to speak to Rohin for this story, we had a very different picture of what it was possibly about. Rohin has spoken to 6 people within Flipkart and has also met Binny, Karan and Ravi for a second time.

Some of the more contentious parts of the story refer to some sort of a power struggle within Flipkart. I’m surprised that our views on the company’s work culture were not included when alleging that something is wrong with it. Considering the story talks about ‘banding together as a secretive bunch’, as alleged by an ex-employee (who incidentally may have a vested interest given his association with another e-commerce firm, a fact ignored in the Forbes story), I’m saddened that our views on the work culture, across Rohin’s meetings with our people have not been given any weightage at all.

For instance, my colleague, Mekin Maheswari, spoke about the very high sense of ownership and gave practical examples like our warehouse software being built by engineers who then go to the warehouse and try it out to see if it affects the shipping process. Or the other example where he talks about us hiring generalists who look at our processes from end-to-end before it goes to specialists for fine tuning.

When Rohin spoke with Sameer, our digital head, he spoke about Flipkart being a bold place to work, with everyone liking a good challenge at work. He also referred to the deep-rooted integrity across levels, at Flipkart, as one of the things that impressed him with our work culture. Not just that… the ability to make decisions and delegating decision-making are an interactive process, and not top-down, is something Sameer also shared with Rohin.

I am left wondering why these long interviews with our people talking about work culture wouldn’t be appropriate in the story. Right now, it somehow seems to give inordinate weightage to outsiders’ views on the same. Is it Forbes and Rohin’s assumption that anything positive uttered by current employees can be completely discounted? In fact, the entire story does not quote a single employee when it comes to work culture. Isn’t it a tad unfair? I can fully understand that work culture is a nebulous term and every person will have a different view on it, depending on who you ask. But wouldn’t it be reasonable for me to assume that when an esteemed publication like Forbes is making allegations of an unfavorable work culture at Flipkart, it also quotes perspectives from current employees?

In a similar vein, Rohin could have simply asked us for details on the number of people from IITs, IIT Delhi or IIT Delhi’s Jwalamukhi hostel vis-a-vis people who are outside this so-called circle. I can list at least 6 people (off my head, there are more, I’m sure) in the management team who are not from IIT Delhi or Jwalamukhi hostel. Wouldn’t it be fair to include such a list and let readers compare if there was favoritism to IIT Delhi?

Beyond culture, the only other concern I’d like to point to is the seemingly feeble attempt at disclosing the Homeshop18 connection. It is added as a disclosure while talking about competition – and that indeed seems fair. But given the magnitude of the allegation (a cover story, with an apocalyptic headline, no less!), wouldn’t a more prominent disclosure be appropriate to let people make their own judgements?

Finally, I’d also like to highlight something rather simple and inconsequential. Your last cover story on Future Group got promoted on Twitter 4 times. The one prior to that – on BRIC countries – got 3 tweets as promotion. The Flipkart story, in less than 24 hours, has got 8 tweets from the Forbes India Twitter handle. I do understand that Forbes has a print issue to sell and that a Flipkart cover is good fodder for sales, but considering the story will go online next Friday, do we expect further unusually high level of Twitter push on the same? Could I please request that the moderation in promotion displayed by Forbes India on its other cover stories be applied to us too?

If you find it appropriate, could I please request you to carry this response of mine in the Forbes blog? We agreed to speak to Rohin based on a specific angle that was communicated to us. Considering that the actual story is a lot different, the least we could request is this response from us be carried in a Forbes India-owned platform – print and online, or at least online, since print editions tend to have much shorter life spans in these days of digital domination.

Best regards,

Sachin Bansal
CEO – Flipkart.com

My Response to Sachin Bansal:

Dear Sachin,

Thank you for your email. I appreciate the fact that you’ve reached out to share your candid views on our cover story about Flipkart.

First of all, let me share some important background and context to put things into perspective. Before any feature story is published in Forbes India, we speak to many people, both inside and outside the company, before coming to any conclusion.

At times, the initial hypothesis we start with changes as the reporting gathers momentum. If something controversial comes up, as a matter of policy, we flag the people off who are part of the feature. This protocol was adhered to by Rohin and he got in touch with you, Karthik (Sreenivasan, your head of corporate communications), and your senior team.

As you’ve acknowledged in your email, Rohin spent several hours with your senior team. In the first session with you, your co-founder Binny (Bansal) and the CFO Karandeep (Singh), he raised all the key issues with you. But you chose not to give clear, direct answers. Soon after the meeting, Rohin communicated his concerns to Karthik. On his part, Karthik agreed with Rohin’s concerns and added that Karandeep too felt the meeting was very formal and defensive.

On his part, Rohin could have chosen to go ahead and write the story based on this meeting. Instead, because his concerns were serious ones, he took the initiative, asked for another meeting and raised the issues once again. But this time too, you ignored or provided vague answers to pointed questions around culture, investor conflicts, cost pressures or the reasons behind the series of senior exits in 2010. This, in spite of putting all of what he had gathered from his conversations with various people on the table. Although the meeting was cordial and friendly, fact is, most of his questions were not answered clearly or sincerely. He gave that feedback directly to Binny, Karandeep and Ravi both during the meeting, and subsequently to Karthik over the phone.

I think it is, therefore, unfair to suggest he did not put enough effort to understand your team’s perspective.

Now, around the specific arguments in our story. One of the key arguments he made was that decision-making at Flipkart is centralised and vests with a core group of people, all of whom share similar backgrounds that date back to their IIT-D days. This is also linked to the exodus of the first batch of senior professionals in the story.

This view wasn’t based on a conversation with “one key employee” as you seem to suggest in your email. There were others, who chose to speak off-the-record.

Then there is Tapan Kumar Das, the ex-employee you refer to. His primary business Qua Nutrition (of which he is CEO), does not compete directly with Flipkart. His being involved with other websites that very few have heard of is, frankly, something I thought would be insignificant to Flipkart given Binny’s comment to Rohin during an interview saying “we don’t look at competition now, and our only growth hypothesis is to get more customers to shop with us”. I understand Das’ perspective isn’t exactly flattering, given that he was the first to raise legitimate doubts about the veracity of Flipkart’s financial statements (which you haven’t refuted). And there is no material evidence to question his integrity.

One of the points that came through repeatedly in Rohin’s conversations was that these professionals found it extremely hard to break into the inner circle.

As anyone who has covered start ups and organisations for many years would know, there are many factors that influence work culture. In Flipkart’s case, we found the dominant one was shaped, to a large extent, by the initial set of people, many of whom come from the same academic background. I understand it may be difficult for either you or your colleagues to accept allegations of a ‘ghetto’ culture. But when people who chose to leave Flipkart brought it up independently during our conversations with them, we thought its difficult to ignore their version. To my mind, there is an element of some reality in there.

I’m afraid you’ve read too much into the social media activity around our cover story. There’s nothing unusual about the number of tweets. The only new feature we’ve introduced from this edition–a video blog–will now be a regular addition to our bouquet of digital activities. Incidentally, the first video that highlights key stories in any particular issue was aired on our website was the one that featured the Future Group. My colleague Dinesh Krishnan posted a blog as well on what went behind-the-scenes to conceptualise and design the cover image on Flipkart. This is something we’ve done in the past as well.

Readers familiar with our body of work since we launched three years ago know we follow a policy of making clear disclosures in our stories. Which is why, Rohin highlighted Forbes India’s connection to Homeshop18. I understand you think the disclosure ought to have been highlighted more prominently. But what we have done is in line with our policy. And please understand, we believe our readers are intelligent to draw their own conclusions from the vast body of research presented in the story.

Finally, we will most certainly carry your letter prominently on our site, blogs and social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, where we are very active, with my response appended.

Thank you once again for writing to us. I wish you and your team all the very best!

Regards,

Indrajit Gupta

Comment
Havent read such loosely written article. Clearly shows the Forbes India team has dearth of good journalists and reporters. Sad to see that an article made it to Cover Page, without having any critical facts. Seems like this article is motivated by internal or/and external factors. You have lost one reader of Forbes India.
Susheel Kumar
The anonymous poster here seems to be Sachin Bansal himself.
Flipkart For Customers: It has tremendous compassion, but now become lethargic.. the feeling is that "Customer to Ayega hi" Hallucinated by Satisfaction.. For Employees: The junior, mid level employees who do buttering they can survive easily there even though they don't perform well, and they are much satisfied there as compared to those who work with proper dedication... Some of the employees got promoted by undue influence; If you have a car your won, don't worry, you will easily survive, If you are IITian then you are the SHISHUPAL of Mahabharata, you are permitted to commit anything which is unusual, but unfortunately SRI KRISHNA is not there to take action more than 100th mistakes.. Company has the fancy trend to hire low-graded IITians every year, where there is no such type of work, where they have to perform on the basis of their academic background. But not all are same, most of them. Some of the employees work with full dedication, but he ensured will be given fair amount of appraisal at the certain span of time, while buttering is such a Bramhastra in Flipkart, an employee could avail it before even having less contribution and in much better amount than the employee worked with full dedication. And moreover when the employees' time to get promotion, they get new face from different field in the organisation to whom he/she has to report, who have very terrible knowledge about the product as well as the process. The significant thing is that now the employees associated with the Organisation started feeling they are new, and the new appointed fellows are overrated. Stop it Flipkart if you don't want to be a glimpse... Still I wanna say "I Love You Flipkart"
This is just a story and like all stories it has two sides of the coin! Rohin, is right in publishing the story as it appears and Binny is right in his views as well. It is his business to decide what culture prevails in his company and who becomes part of the think-tank and who doesn't. If Flipkart becomes a big success they would have done most things right! If they fail we all will know that they screwed-up. Time will tell! IMO, Flipkart is still evolving and yet to be a big success story of Indian ecommerce...in contrast to some media reports and commentators. Big money funding does not mean or translate into success! Now, the second part of the story where some employees felt that there are entry-level barriers to become part of the so-called "core cotrie"! Now, what is new to this? Every company has it. And as a professional employee your success is not indexed to your relations with the founders/owners. I have worked for 12 years in Info Edge and never really bothered whether the Owners were my pals or not! If you do well...you survive! if you don't...then even if you are family you will be booted out! That is the reality of business. You've come here to do a job...do your best and believe in Power of Performance! Flipkart's a great platform and its employees should be ready to shed sweat and blood for many years to achieve their big pay-day! I can say all this as I know the difference between 'just doing well' and 'achieving success'. Suceess is life changing..one has to work harder for that.
I love this! Much deserved for Flipkart, India's biggest online shopping destination. Let me share my personal experience - the HR director of Flipkart, told on my face that they don't encourage new mothers at Flipkart. Throwing the offer at my face, he asked me to be just satisfied, in spite of that! I thought companies out here are encouraging mothers to get back to work by extending all possible support.
Hi Anjali, I would not agree to your comments. As my son was just a year and 3 months old when I joined Flipkart. There must be a pretty rational reason for rejection of your candidature. Wish you all the best for your future.
I second you Anjali. Flipkart is not at all employee friendly. @Shwetali... there are always exceptions!!
What i find wrong with flipkart is their attitude towards the serious issues raised in this cover story. Just yesterday I visited flipkart to buy "Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers" which costs INR 1356. I got a shocker when i visited Junglee.com and finally bought the book for INR 671 (the binding is the same on all the websites). And this is not just a one-off case. I can go on and on about the price differentials. It's one thing for flipkart to get maximum clients on board but the loss of clients can be equally quick, if they fail to address these issues. What flipkart's USP was is no longer theirs. I visited flipkart only to get best possible deal. I am sorry to say that I am moving away. Flipkart should address the right things before it's too late.
I agree Junglee has far better deals. Just bought a book "Emperor of all Maladies" for Rs.374 from Flipkart and then read this comment. Guess what its selling for Rs.284 on Junglee!
Never used FK for any online purchase. have only seen ADs on TV. sm of my friends did some purchase. and in India today, every company has a culture that will only suit some 20%, not all 80%. This is publicity in a derogative way just so that it gets eyeballs and FK gets its another 15min of fame. India rocks.. incredible

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I personally love the tug of war of comments between the Flipkart loyalists and avid Forbes readers but what surprises me the most is how some who have commented on this post have completely lost out on the actual story on Flipkart on Forbes. People always react ferociously at bad publicity of their beloved brands, what they fail to understand is that even the brightest stars are flawed and not all is perfect. People out here have gone ahead and have written about the excellent customer service of Flipkart and that it is a great company from a consumer's point of view... why is it so difficult for some of you to understand that Rohin has actually written about the internal employee communication failure at certain levels inside of Flipkart and not about how Flipkart treats its customers. You can actually listen to him praising Flipkart for its service delivery on this podcast: http://forbesindia.com/audio/maga-zine-extra/podcast-what-is-wrong-with-flipkart/33208. And those of you who are expecting Forbes to actually give solutions to Flipkart rather than bringing out the internal truths, then sorry to say, you are expecting just too much. Forbes is not a charity website that it will present solutions to brands for their failures, their business would have to be changed then! If it becoming too difficult for some of you to digest certain truths which Forbes has presented in its cover story, then all that can be said is the truth in reality has pinched you too hard and made you too bitter!
In that case, why not also put out opinions of people who've been with Flipkart? For every 1 person who's left, there have been 99 others who've stayed. If the author claims to not be biased, then why not carry the opinions of the other 99?
Ya true my friend...as the rest 99 those who have stayed back in flipkart are all iitians and iims...and as per the flipkart law...growth is only for iitians and iims...which is a proven fact...and also am sure all the post written supporting flipkart are all iitians and iims...
@anonymous: and you are "a parent of a Flipkart employee who is in the middle management level". Well point taken
Mr.Why don't you read the page 3...All iitans are heading the company.Is there no one left who got 20 or more years experience to head the department and change the working culture.Don't they know difference between HR and technology???
Many comments have been made to appreciate the service in past or may be present, which has already been commendable till date. But the article is about the internal employees and future of flipkart. I assume that happy employees are the base for a good future.
Criticism and Feedback are two different entity. While feedback brings out a healthy environment ,criticism is just the other way. We the Indians in general have a great aptitude to criticise which costs practically nothing. But a healthy feed back is above board of ingenious attitude.In the present climate of attempted gobbling our indigenous enterprises by outsiders ( viz.likes of amazon.com) in the veil of M&A ,lest restricted by Govt. policy. we all should join to strengthen the hands of our guys to improve operational efficiencies by our valued feedback. This is only will be appreciated and not the mirchi masala story made , may be with vested interest. I personally feel ( as a regular customer),Flipkart as a co. has a good value system and their policy orientation towards customer delight is praise worthy.
Here's a real story on Flipkart: http://www.cio.in/case-study/flipkart-drives-innovation-through-intelligent-use-it
Girish Bhusari
Flipkart CEO need to understand one simple thing that denial mode is the end of rejuvinative ideas, hence he should introspect his team than find faults with outsider like Rohin.
Hey all you guys As you keep debating & commenting, someone is laughing about their free publicity. Let's shut down & do what we are best at doing. Nothing.
Flipkart is customer friendly ,efficient and cost competitive. I hope it stays that way.I cannot see how it matters whether it is dominated by one group or other as long as it delivers. In fact others domestic companies should learn from this successful model. Too often domestic companies become customer unfriendly and bureaucratic after initial success .
Go to e-commerce portals, compare prices, find great deals, buy online, enjoy cash on deliveries, have fun. E-commerce has arrived in India. When you subscribe to an IPO of any e-company, think ten times. :)
I am a parent of a Flipkart employee, who is in the middle management level, being the head of an important product category. I have never heard him complain about work culture or say anything negative about the senior executives. He seems to be very happy in his company, and has not responded to enticing job offers from other companies, including one from Amazon.
Get him married as he has started to hide facts from you now. He's pretty grown up.
Srikant Suvvaru
I think a lot of the comments are misplaced. No one said Flipkart isn't a great service organization. The point was that the work culture there isn't friendly to it's employees. There's a difference.
Srikant, the point is employee culture might be a significant factor that would affect the stability and success of the company... its like a tree with hollow trunk... rotting internaly - its destined to fail.
Hemant Thorat
Well, well, well! If there is any truth to what Forbes has written about Flipkart, and I suspect that there is atleast a little, then all those PE and VC investors who raved about Flipkart must be mighty uneasy. And not surprising, because when all these so-called savvy investors climb onto one bandwagon and rave about it to alland sundry, and tout it as the next big thing after Amazon and Facebook, you can tell that they are quite easily misled. Why? Because this is India; where anything can happen, any lie can be made true, and accounts fudged and auditors and Stock Exchanges fooled for years, a.k.a. Satyam. Flipkart appears good but there was no reason to go gaga over it. It's early days yet. The same goes for SnapDeal. These foolish PE funds who have valued it in the hundreds of crores will still have reason enough to sob. Wait and see how the skeletons begin to tumble out now...
seems like Flipkart favorites in the comments below are either being associated with flipkart, have their eyes closed to what we call consumerism or are the fellow IIT Delhi Jwalamukhi guys :P
K. Venugopal Menon (@VenuSpeak)
Dear Apal, Feel free to google me Up !!!. My Credentials are open source everywhere, many of us here are "educated" not "literate" working professionals, who buy from Flipkart and are happy. Remember the maxim " Dear Customer, If unhappy tell us, if happy tell others " ? There is a link below in one of my comment please feel free to follow it. and do a thorough cross. check Or check my twitter handle / or klout / or / peerindex / or / kerd Venu Not a stakeholder in Flipkart but a customer
Dear Mr. Menon, With all due respect to your education I have nowhere commented on the customer satisfaction part. Forbes India found the issues within Flipkart and writes about the same and I feel there is depth in what Forbes India talk about. Kindly do not mis-interpret it as a conversation about customer satisfaction. This is all about a mis-leading management.
Dear Gopal, You are right, as a Flikart employee personally I know how we are struggling to sustain in market as well as customer satisfaction and we are giving the best response from our side. As of now I didn't face a single problem with my seniors or any of the employees. In this article no need to discuss about work culture we are very much happy in this environment. I do agree some customer will not happy because it depends on them, we are not able to comment on that. I feel that in 100% of customers less than 5% of customer are not happy with our services. @Rohin: How do you come to know that Flipkart internal culture is not good...? have you worked in Flipkart...? do you have any interactions/transactions with Flipkart...? did you purchase any single product from Flipkart...? Do not take take the issue issue in consideration after asking 5-6 people or Ex-Employees of Flipkart....? What do you know about Flipkart...? If you want to comment on Flipkart go ahead on externally. You don't have rights to comments on internally.
Dear Teja, Am sure, u r also an iim or iitian...therefore u r so happy to be in...and also am sure u mite hav been promoted every 6 months...so i can understand ur happiness but there others who are nt treated the same..so u be happy let others express it out as this is the only place to exchange the views...
Dear Ravi, I am really sorry because you're mistaken I am not an IIM or IITian guy, I am a BE graduate from AP. For more details you can reach me FB(Teja Nani)
Epicfail of Forbes..BS story from forbes. Now forbes has lost its reputation and it seems to me this article is driven by malignant intent to degrace flipkat. I been using flipkart from last 4 years and i never seen any issue with flipkart. Every business has some issues, but the logic & reason is flawed and selective information put on the magazine is bad. Forbes has more than a customer now
I have been a customer of flipkart and an online business entrepreneur as well. I believe that the questions raised by Mr. Bansal seems to be in an agony of getting the truth uncovered. The phenomenon of ambiguity behind the authenticity of financial statements which results in the money pouring in from investors in the Indian e-commerce industry seems to be a trend now. As a customer I am hardly bothered about the work culture they have (though it does reflect the service they may be offering in near future) but as citizen of India we should be aware of how ethical and reliable is the company from which we are buying our stuff. Forbes Thumbs up for the extended journalism :)
If one were to list all potential problems with Flipkart, Customer obsession and IIT D guys shouldn't make that list!! FK may be building a marketplace by throwing money at it, and we love them for it. All of us who have received a flipkart delivery knows the 'this is not like the others' feeling and to that I offer my whole hearted support and wish their business model has the capacity to continue to delight us.
Absurd...both, the fact that forbes decides to do a story around the work culture in Flipkart....and that Sachin Bansal chooses to respond to it...
Srikant Suvvaru
As someone who's known people who currently work or have worked in the past at Flipkart, I'm sorry to say that life isn't rosy when it comes to the online retailer. Flipkart is a company that has a keen focus on the business goals (which is a good thing) but at the expense of their employees. The customers might be happy but the people who make Flipkart what it is, aren't. Good leaders and managers have left the company because of personal clashes that weren't moderated because of favoritism shown to other individuals. Similarly, when issues were raised to HR, there was an initial flurry of activity that led to no great changes. The extremely high attrition rates within certain parts of the organization and the negative buzz about Flipkart as an employer will put off top talent joining the ranks of India's fastest growing e-retailer. When it comes to employer sensitivity, take a page out of the books of any of a dozen online companies like Google, Yahoo, Zynga, Makemytrip, etc. You can be a successful company without making your employees cry.
Ya true my friend..i completely agree...HR is bais to iims and iitians..in Last 4 years there are people who joined as executive and still just reached to sr business development executive only...but there are many iitians and iims who have joined as a trainee and reached AVP level in hierarchy within a span of 1 year...this clearly shows that the hr policies are different for iims and iitians...so in short people apart iims and iitians who are ambitious and wanted to build a career then flipkart is nt the rite place to.be in...because rewards and recognition are only for iims and iitians..
Hi The number of users on flipkart is a testimony of success. Forbes should try hard to get into such a vast user base first before publishing such articles. A pioneer media house like Forbes should focus on building up new business ventures like flipkart rather than trying to kill them during its initial days. They deserve better treatment and respect.
Stop using cheap tricks to make users use your homeshop18 which was the worst i have seen.
Satyen Hombali
A blatant expression of a vested interest. That is all this story was about IMHO. It is a common thing in India given the rough-and-tumble environment that does not set much store by correctness or even ethicality, and it is no surprise to me that Forbes has chosen to fit right in. I have never been an admirer of the Forbes Empire (aka the mouthpiece of the 1%) and I will stay away from Forbes India after reading this exchange.
So many customers speaking for Flipkart its testimony enough for India's leading online business house...and at the end thats what matters.
K. Venugopal Menon (@VenuSpeak)
Well no one dies of customer service , and does Forbes forget Murthy, Nilakeni, Shibulal, Raghavan & Gopalakrishnan all came from Patni, Shiv Nadar & his HCL Team worked at DCM . Teams build due to proximity. Rolling Stones Singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards were childhood friends. Successful teams build due to familiarity and comfort level. Dhirubhai and His brother-in-Law, Biz Stonem Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams were college mates and worked at Odeo . History proves, camraderie helps. Remember The Beatles ?
Werner Egipsy Souza
We need to talk about the vendor experience, about how most publishers are given a raw deal, and how difficult the vendor selection process is for other products. Customer experience is great, but employee and supplier experience is important too.
Cheap Shot, Forbes. Really cheap shot.. You just lost a subscription.
Gopal S Golan
The bottomline is that Flipkart's customers are a happy with the company. I am one of them, and I know many others who, like me, make regular buys, many times of high ticket items, from them. Your article also loses all credibility because of your relationship with Homeshop18. Considering that Homeshop18 and Flipkart are competitors, the disclosure should have definitely been more prominent, and your reason for it not being so, cuts no ice.
Rakesh Malhotra
Gopal, Udit is my son. My/his comments are not attacks on Flipkart but on the unprofessional, unlawful and unfair trade practices by Flipkart. All our comments are facts and evidence based. A customer who has purchased a single product or a few products may not know the true conduct of a Retailer. Like you, we have also been regular customers of Flipkart, we discovered the facts about Flipkart's unprofessional conduct and unfair trade practices over a period of time during April 2012. You have mentioned you make big ticket purchases from Flipkart, Pls. i) look back into your Invoices of 2011 and check in how many Invoices the VAT/CST amount has been shown clearly. ii) If you have bought a Toshiba Laptop from Flipkart without Accessories like a Backpack/Carry Case, confirm from the Toshiba India website if the Accessories which you did not receive or paid for extra are actually accessories supplied with the Laptop by Toshiba India or not. c) How many times have received proper Cash Receipts for your COD purchases? d) Since you are also an old customer of Flipkart, as per the old Terms of Use of the website, you have entered into an agreement with a company which does not exist under the Companies Act, viz. WS Retail Pvt. Ltd. The company name was rectified only after my mail of 7 May 2012 but Flipkart customers have not been notified regarding the same by Flipkart, as such a notification shall make the 'Terms of Use' no longer binding on Flipkart's Customers (WS Retail Pvt. Ltd. being a non-existent company). In the interest of consumers at large, each and every comment posted by either of us including those related to "Terms of Use" of Flipkart shall be substantiated with evidence on my son's blog http://talkabouttech.com soon. Do check it out.
Sir, WS Retail is the name of Flipkart's Customer Service vertical. The brand Flipkart only includes the warehouse, inventory and the finance dept
Rakesh Malhotra
Dear Anonymous, Thanks for enlightening me on the way Flipkart functions internally. However, "WS Retail" the name mentioned by you in your comment is an incorrect and non-existent company name. "WS Retail Pvt. Ltd." is a non-existent company on the Govt. of India, MCA website. A company is a legal entity. Any agreement with a non-existent company automatically become null and void, apart from the penal provisions under the Companies Act and the IT Act. The terms of use of Flipkart used the name of the aforesaid company "WS Retail Pvt. Ltd." and made Millions of Gullible Users of Flipkart a party to a voidable agreement. The non-existent company name continued to be fraudulently used by Flipkart in spite of my repeated telephonic communications to Flipkart Customer Service Managers. The non-existent company name was not changed by Flipkart for many days even after my multiple emails beginning 7 May 2012 to the Directors and Senior Management of company. The company name in the "Terms of Use" of the website, 'flipkart.com' now stands changed to "WS Retail Services Pvt. Ltd." However, this vital name change information has not been communicated to the Millions of Users of 'flipkart.com', who have been transacting on 'flipkart.com' since its inception to May/June 2012. The reason for keeping this information in the wraps is that the terms of use for an agreement with a non-existent company is voidable and shall not be binding on Customers acquired by Flipkart before May/June 2012. Most of us do not read the 'Terms of Use' or the 'Privacy Policy' of online retailers. Read one of these carefully and you will find these to be single sided and not-sustainable under law. These are more like the receipts issued by Dry Cleaners, with Terms which absolve them of their responsibilities to any customer complaint. I chanced upon the old "Terms of Use" of Flipkart after our duly accepted orders, full payments for which were collected by Flipkart in advance were not delivered by Flipkart. After having exhausted all reasonable means of communications, I and my family members are now constrained to take Flipkart to court for their breach of contract and other fraudulent, unlawful and unfair trade practices. I am in possession of the old "Terms of Use" with the name of the non-existent company. For the benefit of consumers at large, these shall be posted on my son's blog talkabouttech.com soon.
awesome anonymous
whatever made u think WS retail is flipkart's customer support entity?? its WS retail that has the ownership over all the inventory of flipkart...how do i know?? well my spidey sense told me so.
Because I worked for the Customer service dept till last month, I know how the co. functions.
K. Venugopal Menon (@VenuSpeak)
http://youthentertainmentnetwork.blogspot.in/2012/06/forbes-flipkart-and-customer-service-vc.html MY TWO BITS OF THOUGHT on the issue. Is an impartial witness, neither a geek, vc, pr personell or journalist
whatever the story, one disconcerting fact is that a company run by a bunch of buddies seems a bit odd, friendship is one thing, but consistent hiring irrespective of the "fit" into the company will result in friction, as is evidently the case. Maybe from the CEO's point of view the bonhomie might co-relate to a clique operating better as a team. a clique operates smoothly as long as the teams are tight and small. Again I'm no statistician, but as the company scales this would mean trouble. Many Indian companies in the IT sector specifically are plagued with this problems with linguistic divide that is most pronounced and apparent. the kind of misgivings internally are fraught with risks for any company that handles sensitive data like customer details, credit card information and more. Homeshop18 has been around for sometime now, and quite oddly, they do not seem to have the same growth in mind share as flipkart has done in a short period of time. While, flipkart has been good at whatever they have done so far, it would serve them well if they are professional in their hiring. Homeshop18 has been a disgrace to Indian online retail scene. pricey, cocky sales/ support, and the "we have arrived" attitude reeking all over. thankfully we have competition now, in the last couple of years. Although the author clearly says that he's given his disclaimers - the subterfuge meter seems to be glowing bright red.
If you are willing to pay more than the MRP of a Product or are willing to receive less than what is due to you, it is not a display of your affluence, but that of foolishness and being a customer of HomeShop18 who has shifted over from flipkart I can clearly say that they are the best in terms of packaging, pricing and delivery of books right now in India . Why dont you try ordering for yourself and check the service dude instead of making blanket comments?. PS: I am not connected with HomeShop18 but have been really amazed at how they have created a 4000+ crore business in 5 years with all the problems they would have faced inside network18 and outside network18

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All said and done, as a customer I care only about the experience I go through. And with flipkart, it is outstanding, the way it was for Kingfisher Airlines at one point of time. So much so that I have begun to buy things from flipkart which I never thought would by online. Beyond that, how hey run their business is upto them. And with this article, I am beginning to wonder if Forbes has motivation to publish articles beyond journalism.
Irrespective of the authenticity of article,it appears to me cynically that Forbes simply made Flipkart a scapegoat in an attempt to garner eyeballs.What makes me think so is,does an inner wrangling in an e-commerce company with the business being still evolving, an ideal candidate to occupy the cover page of a coveted magazine?Moreover a lot of attempt to reinforce their cover story with satellite behind the scene stories,which is an attempt to authenticate themselves. Journalists,now-a-days simply need hot selling stories.
Folks Lets be objective here. Indrajit's job is journalism and digging out facts about people/organizations/issues. He surely has done some good work and that's he still has his job! Sachin's is doing his job while building Flipkart. He has his stakeholders and they must be happy which is why he still has his job! Now all the issues raised by Indrajit are typical to any organization- India/Global. Nothing new. If he hires from a particular hostel of IIT so be it...whats wrong with that. Let his company and HR take a call on that I am sure Flipkart/Sachin has legal remedies if there is something done by Forbes/Indrajit which is in contravention of law: defamation/breach of trust/misrepresentation of facts etc etc What is that ONE need for Sachin to react in this manner. I am sure Sachin must have done his diligence on Indrajit/Forbes before allowing him to meet his people and sharing the information and I am sure he must have had his "highs" when Forbes must have approached him to do the story Why this public display of disappointment now...why this clarification!? why this explaining? Is it coz we as Indians dont have tolerance to accept views that are critical in nature! Imagine Mark Zuckerberg taking a gag order from Indian courts against the release of THE FACEBOOK in India on similar pretext or crying out loud against the same on a public blog! But remember how Mark came out of his poor public performance in 2010 at D8 conference and improved remarkably by the time FB was to do roadshows for its IPO! I think we need some resilience...some maturity in the way we deal with criticism! Remeber even Forbes said: "Whats wrong with Flipkart" which means everything's not wrong with it...still!
What is being thrown up of all this is, the larger picture beyond the specifics of minor aspects of everyday life : 1. Consumer activism is at its peak. Going beyond the passions of loyalty, intelligent analysis, the most evident fact 'there is someone watching the business entities in India and no one can get away. This is the true winner. 2. Role of media. The underlying fact that this has augmented the conversation - irrespective of various dimensions, the fact about central role of media in a ever changing society stays validated.
K. Venugopal Menon (@VenuSpeak)
Remella don't say the "Central Role of Media " :-) Paper shredders were invented to shred newspapers and magazines, and papier mache art grew because illogical printed matter could be better converted into beautiful "Kathakali" Masks . The flipkart consumer behaviour and reaction is evident here , that Forbes has got it wrong. I'm sure if sold on flipkart, this issue will have a deeper discount. :) Atrocius logic and vested PR has job this !!!
Are you in any sense a relative to Tapan? Which company does not have a close group controlling? Forbes story seems sponsored by Electronic or book store owners? IS there a declaration that you dont have vested interest in it? Media trying to pull down a successful startup based on morales which media has lost in an era of sponsored journalism.
Sachi Mohanty
What is wrong if a bunch of friends from college start a company where they are the only senior management? Surely Flipkart doesn't have more skeletons in its cupboard than the biggest daddy of online commence, Amazon. Flipkart is whipping the competition -- that's the bottom line so far.
There is no problem if a bunch of friends start a company and are the Senior Management who take all the decisions, but the problem is somehow being an Engineer from IIT (why do they call themselves IITians and not Engineers) they feel they are God. I have worked in on such similar company FutureGroup, so I understand what the writer is trying to point.
Mr Amit, if you look closely at the article it will come to your notice that a lot of non-IITians have made it to the senior management level. The designer of the site is not an IITian for instance. Is it not phenomenal enough that 2 college graduates began a company and now it is ready to compete with Amazon? If the service is good, prices are less and we as consumers benefit.. why is it such a big deal that a few HoDs are IITians? I think it is the mindset in our minds and not theirs that we need to change. Please do think over it
That is what I am trying to say, change the mindset, but of the IITians, these 2 guys did it and are truly wonderful but similarly a non IIT made Reliance, TCS, Shaadi.com, Naukri.com, Rediff.com...you are just and intelligent person like many others...but stop considering yourself as GOD. If every IIT pass out could make something like Flipkart...they surely deserved respect.
The man who has done his level best... is a success, even though the world may write him down a failure, B C Forbes...
Like Indrajit said "... readers are intelligent to draw their own conclusions..." and my conclusion is below (Not saying I am intelligent) - Forbes India is trying hard to get some readership and responses here. - Forbes India is degrading their standards on conducting responsible research and journalism. - Forbes India is venturing into paid/sponsored research/journalism. - Forbes India is restructuring to get positioned as Yellow Journal - Forbes India EGO is hurt big time on personal issues with the FK leadership. Now there may be obvious reasons for not publishing this comment.
Sir, I completely agree with you. Forbes India is trying their LEVEL best to sell the magazine. Their desperation is dripping all over the pages of the story. What does it contain anyway? MASALA!! About irrelevant matters- who is from IIT or a hostel. Or how the ex-employees are angry and stiffer(as all ex-employees are!) Bah! It is sickening. You want to make only talk about the 10 unhappy ex members and not the 5000 happy ones. I have been to the flipkart office!! Its exceptionally awesome, fun and the people are great! They work hard and are struggling, its true but they have reached so far up.. why not talk about that huh?
My own experiance is just good enough for whenever I ordered books in Mumbai, however, when I had ordered books outside Mumbai in slightly smaller towns such as Chandrapur, it is pathatic. Flipkart would not even respond to your questions on their helpline. It looks as if they are just not bothered once the money are recieved by Flipkart. They had sent one book by a good courier company which gets delevered and another two books with some other company, the name of which I had not heard of which does not get delevered at all and when I called the helpline, I was told that, the courier company had stated that, they cant delever the same as that is out of their delevery range. If that was the case, then why at first place such an order was accepted by the courier company and why had Flipkart sent two books by another company? Is it that, they at Flipkart do not want to apply their own mind at all? To top it all, when you call them, all kind of ivasive and vague answers are given by the helpline. Another point, I would strongly suggest, please do not buy anything from Flipkart except books at any rate, as the services their are even more pathatic. I had ordered AC and a fridge from Flipkart, that too in citi of Mumbai and I had a nightmare till the time it was delevered. Having said that, I must state that, so far, whenever I ordered books "in Mumbai" the experiance is not too bad. I got delevered in time. I hope Flipkart would do well to learn from these mistake in future, else they would face lot of consumer litigation to start with and the clame made by Flipkart that they are good at consumer delite would become consumer plight.
Lost all respect for Fobes, I thought it was for the knowledgeable but its for the page3 lovers.
@Indrajit- So the employees gave vague answers and hence to look for an answer you trusted some "unidentified ex-employees" and also draw your own conclusions from "the vast body of research acquired for the story" ?? eh?
I have used flipkart lots of times and have had no issue till date. They delighted me with quick and professionals service on all occasions. In my mind, this article reeks of sensationalism with less than firm grounds for why the website will fail. Rather than facts of why FK as a company will fail, I am left with a bad taste of what forbesindia has done with its journalism.
How does it matter if decision making is centralized and vested in a small group of people until the right decisions are made. There may be a culture problem, but customers are clearly happy
Friends, Please don't start shooting the Messenger without knowing all the dirty facts about Flipkart. It seems success has gone over Mr. Bansal's head, he wrongly believes that he is always right and can no longer hear anything against him or his/his team's wrongdoings. (all these traits go against the stakeholders of Flipkart). In my opinion, Forbes India should publish a series of investigative and evidence based stories to expose the mess-of-affairs in Flipkart and the unfair trade practices by Flipkart. Flipkart has definitely turned from the Best-to-Worst in the recent past. In a short span of 9 months, I and my family members ordered over 100 products worth over a Rs.1 Lakh to Flipkart. Our orders translate to a new order to Flipkart every 2.5 days. From a company which started out with very competitive pricing and excellent customer service, Flipkart has downgraded itself as another street-smart operator, more like a Hawker, unlike any respectable Business. Today, Flipkart has 'No Business Ethics' and 'No Customer Commitment'. Flipkart neither abides by, nor has any respect for the laws of our Country. Sounds unbelievable, but it is true. As an erstwhile loyal customer of Flipkart, I regret to say that Flipkart is now resorting to many 'Unlawful and Unfair Trade Practices' viz. 1. Non-Delivery of Ordered Products after acceptance of the Orders by email and receiving Full Payments in advance for the same. (An offense under the Indian Contract Act). 2. Misleading Advertising and Sale of Multiple Products like Books and Office Supplies above their stipulated Maximum Retail Price (MRP). (An offense under the Legal Metrology-Packaged Commodity Rules). 3. Misleading Advertising and Sale of select models of Toshiba Laptop Computers, by removing the Carry Case/Backpack of the Laptops, (included by Toshiba India as a supplied accessory) and selling the Laptops at marginally lower prices than their competitors. In good faith, the Customers wrongly believe that Flipkart is cheaper than its online, on-air and other competitors. This action by Flipkart not only cheats the Customers but also creates unfair competition on the marketplace. The removed Carry Case/Backpack is sold separately to make extra and illegal profits by Flipkart. (An offense under the Consumer Protection Act). 5. Incorrect Invoicing of Products without mentioning the amount of VAT/CST charged and Invoicing Interstate Sales as Intra-State Sales. (An Offence under the VAT and CST Acts). 6. Use of a non-existent company name "WS Retail Pvt. Ltd." in the Terms of Use of the 'flipkart.com'. No Company with the aforesaid company name exists on the website of the Ministry of Company Affairs, Govt. of India. Consequently the "Terms of Use" are not binding on any User of 'flipkart.com'. The correct name of the company is "WS Retail Services Pvt. Ltd." The wrong company name was rectified by Flipkart only after my communication regarding the same on 7 May 2012 to Mr. Balkrishan Bansal, Director, Mr. Tapas Jagadeesh Rudra Patna, Director, Mr. Sachin Bansal, Co-founder, Mr. Binny Bansal, Co-founder, Mr. Sujeet Kumar, President Operations, Mr. Ravi Vora, Vice President (Marketing) and Mr. Karthik Srinivasan, AVP (Corporate Communications). However, users of 'flipkart.com' have not been informed regarding the name change till date as a communication regarding the same shall give the Old Customers of Flipkart the option to accept/reject the Terms-of-Use of 'flipkart.com' since the non-existent company was supposedly a legal entity established under the Companies Act. (This is an offence under the Companies Act and the IT Act). 8. The Senior Management of Flipkart including all the names mentioned herein above do not bother to respond to Customer Grievances and Complaints, leave alone try to resolve the same. Read more unknown and dirty facts about Flipkart on: http://talkabouttech.com/2012/05/12/homeshop18-beating-flipkart-at-its-own-game/. Incidentally, in the recent past, Homeshop18's Pricing and Customer Service has improved from Poor-to-Very Good. During the last 3 months, upon multiple purchases from Homeshop18, I have found that in the Books Category, Homeshop18 provides the Lowest Prices in the market, Excellent Packaging, Fast Deliveries and Excellent Customer Service. If Homeshop18 continues to improve across all Categories at the same pace, it will be sooner than later that Homeshop18 will be the preferred destination for online shopping.
Gopal S Golan
You stink of prejudices, and your plugging of Homeshop18 towards the end of your comment gives your game away. Your comment is a lot of barking without any bite.
By your comment you totally state your vested interest, I have been using flipkart for long now. And am assured its expensive than its competitors but is at-least 10times better than them. I don’t mind paying a slightly high price. And if u thought it is doing so many frauds go to court , than crying like a baby here and advertising . As a consumer I care for quality and service , which I get from flipkart and as a individual I am happy paying for it.
Udit Malhotra
@Gopal & @Abhishek, It seems just hearing the name 'Homeshop18' gives you guys the jitters. If I will comment Homeshop18 is 'bad' you guys will unnecessarily start flipping in the kart. Grow Up Guys...Face the Facts. We live in a dynamic world, yesterday things were different and things will be different tomorrow. Look back in the past, there was no Flipkart, tomorrow there may be no HomeShop18. For Books, I repeat for Books; Homeshop18 is the best online retailer today in terms of pricing, packaging as well as delivery. I standby my statement without any vested interests. Before ordering any book online, compare its price on junglee.com, mysmartprice.com and isbn.net.in and in just a few minutes you shall discover the facts. @Abhishek, Spending a little extra for your armchair convenience may not matter to you, however for a Student who has limited funds, getting a book cheaper online, may help him in getting another book needed by him at a lower cost/no cost. If you are willing to pay more than the MRP of a Product or are willing to receive less than what is due to you, it is not a display of your affluence, but that of foolishness. If you have entered into an Agreement with a non-existent company (if you are a Flipkart Customer before 7 May 2012, unknowingly you already have), don't read Forbes India, read the Companies Act and the IT Act and know your rights. FYI, I am taking Flipkart aka 'WS Retail Services Pvt. Ltd.' for their Unlawful and Unfair Trade Practices to Court shortly.
hmm.. quite shady... you are a hands-on social media management professional! I'm not sure how many are aware what is done to manage.... is it going all around in internet forms to repeat the same drivel and point out links leading to a slanderous article? yeah of course, this will increase the page ranking for that blog in Google search... very clever!
The points that u pointed out doesnt seem to be Something flipkart "Resorted to" , they are errors so of which which have already been taken care of. 1. Non delivery of Products for which order has been made. (This too is very very rare case.)I have received every single item i'v ordered for. And Am Glad that even if i order something and decide to cancel it, they dont force it on me, They Do Return my money back to me. - 2. About selling more than MRP. This must have been a reaallly rare case, ur report should have also reported how in-frequently this happens, if its rare then say so! I'v always got the price that has been listed on the website. N if i do have any problem i'm sure their custommer support would help me out. 3 & 4. About toshiba laptops... Hey they sold what ever they have promised on the website. I already have enough bags and better bags with me, and if I have an option to pay lesser and get my laptop, i would gladly go for it. 5. VAT details .. as a customer it doesnt matter much to me. yeah am sure they'll look into it for the law perspective. dont thinik thats a big thing to write a cover story on Forbes magazine about. 6 and 7. Regarding the registered name- They have rectified it na? whats the problem. 8. Regarding Customer grievances and Complaints : The senior mnagement have created a very efficient and prompt Customer Support to deal with all this. Doesn't seem too bad at all. :-)
Udit Malhotra
Manisha, Your comments "they are errors so of which which have already been taken care of" and "Regarding Customer grievances and Complaints : The senior mnagement have created a very efficient and prompt Customer Support to deal with all this" coupled with your tone and attitude makes me believe you are not a Flipkart Customer but a Flipkart Employee/ Associate commenting on behalf of Flipkart.
Well, I dont know if the complexities of a business is being taken as a case of inefficiency and leveraged to protect or slander. While Magazines like HBR give respect to this fact, Forbes has chosen to ignore the sytle of functioning and presented it negatively. In this consumer driven market, companies cant just grow without keeping customers happy. Flipkart has a higher CSI than most others in this domain. Employees judment of organisation and managers might not be a good topic as the same is like studying the mood.. its going to be different at different times.
K. Venugopal Menon (@VenuSpeak)
Wow , now this has gone to the Memorandum of Association, probably, this is deep research, better than the article itself. Take note, who is laughing all the way to the Bank. Its Flipkart folks. Without even buying a column centimeter of advertisement space, or a Google Ads banner/ square banner placed :-) It is just a coincidence, that I have to mention, have written a blog post comparing Micromax Funbook, Karbonn Smart Tab and HCL XE low cost Android ICS Tablets. AND DO YOU KNOW , which Google Ads I normally find there ? Indiatimes, Naaptol, Jabong, Myntra and Homeshop 18. Never Flipkart. Why can that be? Draw your own conclusions. I have presented my case This is a case like that DNA @Swamy39 " Virat Hindu " Story ! Pure sensationalism
Udit Malhotra
Venugopal, Flipkart's aforesaid unprofessional, unlawful and unfair trade practices are only waiting to be exposed to Customers at large and the Authorities concerned. The rest shall be decided by the Customers and the Authorities in due course of time.

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Dear Sachin, I understand that customer delight is your ultimate goal and passion but I ask at what cost. Recently my roommate ordered couple of soaps, a oil and a loofah that cost around 200 bucks, and the parcel arrived in 3 packages all on different days and all with custom flipkart packing (that we all are in love with). But the fact that a 200 bucks package arrives in 3 different days makes me wonder how profitable it is for flipkart to deliver it everytime at my doorstep and add to that guilt of paper and polythene wasted at each package order. Dear Flipkart pls consider environment as a factor too while serving your customers.Package arrived 2 days latter with 1 packing and a half page of an A4 sheet as a bill would suffice us. We love flipkart service but do consider our environment as well. Regards
If i read their business model, it's purely "Made to Sell" model. Making money is not on their minds. they are more bothered about the eye-balls and customers to increase their valuation.
Susheel Kumar
That's a foolish question. If you know that the packing is done the moment the product order is received and the product is available. They send whichever product is available and do not wait for all 3 products to be available, to save on customer's waiting time.
Also, while we are talking about conspiracy theories, here's another one. Perhaps Amazon's Indian arm that was recently launched i.e. Junglee had a vested interest in badmouthing Flipkart and hence, the sudden slew of negative publicity. Inspite of all this, I will shop with Flipkart as long as the front-end service stays the same.
Perhaps Flilpkart has issues on the back-end. Regardless, I have to compliment them for their work on the front-end. It is FLAWLESS. I used to shop in the U.S. primarily using Amazon. Having moved back to India, I must confess, I barely miss Amazon (definitely not for the books). Excellent job done, Flipkart. Regardless of such stories, your loyal base would stay (in my opinion).
I have been ordering from flipkart for many years now and should say that I am satisfied with their service and professionalism. Well Flipkart should stay away from such attention seeking journalists and magazines who promote sensationalism. Forbes has actually given a negative feedback about itself more than flipkart. It might happen in this case that vested interests are playing a definite role here. Being a part of startup and having more than 18 years experience in corporate industry I can say with certainty that ex-employees should be left out keeping relationship intact otherwise for a startup they might create problems later on. All said and done flipkart is one of the best e commerce retailers in this country and am proud to be a customer of it.
Flipkart rocks !!!!!!!! All other is bullshit !
We are also in the ecommerce business Bluebustees.com and all I want to add is if the VCs are happy with what the flip kart is doing with there money no one should question how they run there business. No one should talk negative just for there own profits. But then again this is India and we feel happier to see a company fail rather then be successful.
should i open your website in incognito window?
Flipkart is using this very smartly as a PR opportunity crying out loud - " Oh my god, I am a scapegoat . Forbes which has a piss drop relationship with Homeshop18 is telling I am a fraud". People will always be with scapegoat even when scapegoat has done wrong. How soon people forget about the 1 billion PR bubble that flipkart created and vanished into thin air :)
Looking at the comments below it seems people are under the perception that forbes did the story because of their connection with Homeshop18 . Are people are under the impression that there are no problems within flipkart and everything is fine. As an ex-flipkart employee I know how the system works and dont be surprised if the company shuts down in next few months. Dont order in flipkart and your money is not in safe hands. These jokers called bansals have runout of cash from VCs and wont be able pay vendors any more. Past is past and flipkart willl serious problems or may shut down in next few months. It is better to order offline rather than from any of online sites like flipkart.
Gopal S Golan
Your comment shows why you were made 'ex'.
Prabhat Kumar Mathur
dear Mr. Sachin Bansal, All I can say to relieve you of the pain caused by this website is that your site is awesome, your products are awesome and you guys are doing great. I dont care what your business model is , what is going on in the company and where you are headed to in the next 1-5 years time frame. The day you stop delivering on time the quality products to my door step and stop the great discounts - I will be the first one to raise fingers on your company. trust me, I am an engineer with MBA and believe well read and educated to stop worrying about the things that does not matter to me. Your VC's, stake holders and creditors may take notice of the mundane stuff mentioend here. It does not matter to a customer like me. I want things to be served on plate and not what goes behind the wall . Regards, Prabhat. Dear Mr. Indrajit Gupta, I don't understand why the issue was not brought up again and again about the clear cut answers directly with Mr Sachin Bansal rather than informing the rest of his crew. Sounds a lot absurd!!! Or was it just passing the buck to print it and gather the media attention(which you are doing now!!!) . I do believe everyone of us have a circle of office mates with which we are comfortable wrking with and so the IIT-D issues is simply ridiculous. Forbes India has lost its credibility by this mud-slinging articles in my view. All the best to you, Rohin and the entire team. Regards, Prabhat
Wonder why people are blaming forbes, when business standard was the first paper to report the issues in flipkart @ http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/investors-wary-as-flipkart-shows-growth-pangs/475863/. Forbes does not have any vested interest in the story other than the connection with HomeShop18 and considering that they didnt even cover HomeShop18 in earlier articles on ecommerce like http://forbesindia.com/article/work-in-progress/bestsellers-from-flipkart/16872/1 . It is evident that flipkart management expected this to be another story with them as posterboys of Indian E Com but they shoot themselves on the foot by evading the question of journalist.
If you read Sachin's letter deeply, you'd notice that he's not concerned with journalists questioning the business model or profitability. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Likewise, Sachin, as the CEO of a privately held company, is completely entitled to not answer the journalist's questions on the business model. A lot of those questions will not be answered by any private company! Even for a public company, do you expect to walk into Google's office, question the CEO and expect all answers? Most likely you'll be redirected to the PR office for a bunch of well defined, but not-to-the-point answers. The core issue is of questioning the character and credibility of people working there, and that's the reason I think why Sachin chose to respond only to that allegation. It hurts the people inside, hurts the brand, and is an ethically and morally incorrect thing to do. These are people who've toiled hard to get where they are. For the likes of Mahesh Murthy, always looking for a way to bash Flipkart, look at Sachin's mail more closely. When he's asking about why so much extra attention for this article on the social media by the Net18 companies, he's being sarcastic! Why else would he ask the letter to be an open letter if he had to suppress the tweets for them? I think he's drawing attention to the fact that most Net18 companies advertised this article, including Burrp, which has absolutely no relation to Flipkart. Don't you think it was highly conspicuous?
The story and the title indeed are sensational. And as suggested by a few other readers - forbes should also do an article on Homeshop18. To put it simply, the podcast does seem like a vendetta of sorts by a competitor on flipkart and i'm assuming forbes will get more of negative publicity for this article. I've heard more negative views about Homeshop18 than positives by customers and the vice-versa is true for flipkart. I for one am a flipkart customer service fan and nobody has beaten their experience till date. But the intention for this comment is to point out to readers that apart from the flipkart bashing that has occurred, they should look at what the article reveals about the e-commerce industry in general and where it is heading right now, which sadly was only in the last 4 minutes of the podcast. Instead of targeting only flipkart, forbes could have done well to cover the industry as a whole, targeting more players, as the same problems (apart from the culture angle) exist with other players in the industry. (Homeshop18 would have been much happier then!)
Wonder this homeshop18 connection has any merit at all considering that Forbes never covered HomeShop18 in any of the earlier articles as well @ http://forbesindia.com/article/work-in-progress/bestsellers-from-flipkart/16872/1. If you avoid HomeShop18 connection most things fall into place and there is something seriously wrong with FK for sure and may be with other players as well. But as poster boys of Indian ECom they have to take whipping a they have taken hugs as well from media
I have a fair idea of e-commerce in India, as I am working (technical) in this field for the last 5 years. All I can say is that - no particular site is profitable till now. The biggies are thriving on VC funds and some survive as they are part of some large business house. Flipkart, from its beginning has concentrated solely on customer delight and has done a great job till now. I have followed the journey of many Indian e-commerce websites, and I must say, Flipkart is at the top. Still, I agree that, the way things are going, it's not going to be a sustainable proposition for any b2c e-commerce house. Homeshop runs a channel selling cheap(in terms of price, not quality) Spice phones or Reebok sets. Now, running a channel is no joke. And even a layman can conclude that it's very difficult to break even selling stuff and running channels.
Congratulations to the Forbes team! This is going to sell a lot of magazines.
Whereindiashops
Mr. Rohin and the Editor of Forbes, please stop using the publication for your personal vendetta. Mr. Bansal, please stop reacting so cheaply to cheap articles and getting too short tempered. But here, Forbes is wrong in publishing such an article.
may be good fr cust but not very impressive regarding the work culture for the employees
Grow up Forbes. Don't know about the facts, but Forbes should have highlighted the connection with Homeshop18. Come on Indrajit... saying "this is in line with our policy" is not a honorable cover for "we jabbed our competitor" kind of story.
Very bad journalism..has the writer published this story for his own gain- a personal vendetta or was it ordered by the owners-Homeshop? I thought highly of this magazine..well, you just made us realise, this is another tabloid magazine. Why dont you write an article about home shop and its methods. Every company is built with sweat and hardwork. There has been no unfair illegal practices, that they are following. If they hire from IIt or they they have a closed group policy, its their way of working. people have commented on how they ve had a prob with flipkart. every customer-even apple customer will have some problem..its impossible to please all. Their investment decisions are theirs and nobody else besides the managing directors . If their investors are fine with it, why does anyone else have a problem?but to defame flipkart is obnoxious and bad taste.. What moral grounds does it give you to question their way of working?? There ll be happy/unhappy people everywhere esp when the company becomes big. what right do you have to question that and make it into a cover page. any outsider can easily write an article on Homeshop/forbes culture, with enough people, who think there might be politics play amongst staff..is it a cover page worthy??
Arindam Biswas
This smacks of to be released film publicity stunt. Of course, its not. But to a common reader, Forbes India comes out as a distant second. Flipkart can fail in its due course of time, and you can shout out your i-told-you-so from the rooftops. But till then, flipkart is giving good service to its customers. You, sir, are not. :-)
To begin with, I do not understand why FK needs to respond in the first place.. This clearly shows that FK is growing and obviously so called entities like "Forbes" who make a living by rating businesses and individuals :-) would like to get their share of visibility - good/bad god knows!

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I dont understand why we Indians tend to be filled with negativism and cynism. Thats not how build a silicon valley. I am not saying ignore the bad stuff, but are you forgetting the lot great stuff thats happening. My experiences with flipkart have been awesome, and also with Indiaplaza. So I buy where I get things cheaper. The startup has grown so quickly, its valued more than many stocks listed on bse. There will be issues and many issues. Issues are core of life and give rise to business ideas. And flipkart has many larger issues at hand than handling ghettoism. Nothing of the issues are intentional. The founders put tonnes of sweat blood and tears into building something. Though you have every right to write what you want, as one of your intelligent regular users and young entrepreneur I term this story immature and irrelevant. If at all you want to be cynic cover coal companies, land builders, business where everything wrong is intentional, if you have the guts in you.
We are in similar ecommerce business, but though Flipkart has become the number one online store in India, and though it might have its own shortcomings and positive aspects, we think that the Forbes are doing this for sensational journalism. This is not the way to publish an article about an extremely successful webstore, and we in fact should learn from Flipkart how they went on to become successful even when internet penetration in India is at its lowest.
Just bought an issue of the Magazine...to my surprise, 6 pages of the cover story were torn from inside...I don't want to comment on who could have got it done
K. Venugopal Menon (@VenuSpeak)
It could be a smart Alec Indian, perfect in Indian jugaad way, who does not want to waste his hard earned money, on useless stuff, but is eager enough to know, what Forbes wrote.
Subrata Mitra
Hi, I represent accel partners, one of the investors in Flipkart. I was contacted by Rohin (see transcript below) for discussion around the said article. Seems like he had a change of mind or his research burden became so large that he had to ignore speaking to the one investor who has been associated with the company the longest. Wonder why (esp since I have done a few articles with him in the past)! ----- From: Mitra, Subrata Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 5:09 PM To: 'Rohin Dharmakumar' Subject: RE: Your views for a story on Flipkart Rohin, would you start by sending me a set of questions? Lemme think through & respond by email; we can then have a call. Best, - Subrata --- Subrata Mitra www.accel.com From: Rohin Dharmakumar [mailto:Rohin.Dharmakumar@network18online.com] Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 2:02 AM To: Mitra, Subrata Subject: Your views for a story on Flipkart Dear Subrata, how are you? I’m reaching out to you for a big feature story I’m doing on Flipkart. Essentially it’s a story about the challenges and pangs faced by a smart, aggressive startup as it morphs into a large, 5000-employee organization. The issues I’m looking at include - people, culture, business expansion and overall ecommerce strategy. I would like to speak with you for this story. I am of course speaking to Flipkart (in fact to all the function heads in addition to the Bansals). Would it be possible to meet on this sometime early next week? Sent from my Windows 8 PC
not to mention lies you spread about customers who reach out to you eh?
Rohin Dharmakumar
Hi Subrata, you're right. I did write to you for your views and did mean to send you the questions subsequently, but missed doing so. The error is mine entirely. I will however send you those questions today, and carry your responses to them on our website with the article. Rohin.
Gopal S Golan
"missed doing so"? LOL!! Your offer to publish Subrata response now, is even more hilarious.
Dear Mr. Indrajit Gupta and Mr.Rohin Dharmakumar . Congrats on a wonderful piece. Just wanted to comment on a statement made by IG "At times, the initial hypothesis we start with changes as the reporting gathers momentum. If something controversial comes up, as a matter of policy, we flag the people off who are part of the feature." . Can you kindly let me know if your policy will make you report on the TV 18 - RIL deal? I think you folks at Forbes India are doing a wonderful job but I pity the Forbes International ppl who have trusted you. The joke is on them.
Rohin Dharmakumar
Hi Subrata, this is to put on record the fact that we sent you our detailed questionnaire on Flipkart on 26th June, which you acknowledged on 1st July. We will continue to await your responses to those questions, especially because you felt we had ignored your views during earlier reporting. Rohin Dharmakumar
Is Forbes India going the page 3 way? Already a shoddy patch when compared to the International edition (including by the way even the paper feel of the magazine), and the semi-skilled lot that goes under garb of financial journalist, the publication would do well not to indulge in cheap unsubstantiated barbs for sake of increasing circulation. Now let's see how fair the editorial is in carrying criticism when it's aimed at them!
Shubho Sengupta
This is a disgustingly scurrilous attack against an Indian success story. This is a literary supplement, was expecting some financial analysis.
I am from PlayMore.in and we sell Sports goods online. I think this article was not written in good taste. If Forbes really stands for unbiased journalism then i request you folks to write an article talking about the negatives of HomeShop18. I am in the senior management of PlayMore and i don't plan to shift either to flipkart or homeshop18, but i buy books from both these sites and i am a happy customer. I am sure because the ecommerce is in its early days all the players are working hard to succeed. So to show that forbes journalism is unbiased, please write an article highlighting the problems faced by homeshop18.
I have bought more than 30 books from Flipkart.com and i just love their collection and service. I think this comment by PlayMore is right, we want to know the problems of homeshop18, so that you can make it clear that this article was unbiased.
Lohit Jagwani
I have been a customer of Flipkart for many years now. Their customer service is brilliant and personally, I think its the best in the industry. I have also been reading Forbes for sometime now and I think its a good magazine. In the interest of fairness, Forbes should come out with an equally critical story of Home Shop 18 as well. If they dont then it will be awfully clear what their motivation was in writing the cover story on Flipkart.
Susheel Kumar
REPOSTING WITH TYPO/GRAMMATICAL CORRECTIONS: View on Forbes Article: Forbes, you were indeed quite bold and sensational in terms of your cover page and the way you narrated the article, without presenting any facts and figures or evidences of good journalism or the substantiation of the content of your article. 'Sources' can be anybody, 'off-the-record' can be anything, even an F letter word for the employer or the organisation; who doesn't swear by his boss? everybody does. Everybody is unhappy with payscales, increments and work load. There's always more for need, less for greed - quoted. There seems to be some truth in the story, but there is also an element of improper conclusion and assumption made by Forbes, and it seems very clear now that Rohin/Indrajit/Forbes Journalists might have felt humiliated or dissatisfied that their questions were not answered directly by the likes of Sachin Bansal, and hence you went on to show the might of your pen or mouse, and published an article that shatters the essence of the success of Flipkart. If you were so good at judging work culture and management style, why is your advice not taken by Homeshop18.com and why is it not more successful than Flipkart then? It is for sure, the fact, though I am a dissatisfied customer and hate their service due to my bad experience, that Flipkart remains the first ecommerce emperor of India, though can be overtaken. After reading your article, the only thing that every reader will start thinking is that Flipkart's inner circle is strong and secretive (which is not incorrect if it is for the good of the company and for the good of the management and it is great to have that kind of group),- that the employees are not very happy, atleast some of them; that Flipkart's balance sheets are or may be falsely portrayed; that Flipkart's inner circle is going through 'Julius Caesar' and 'Et tu Brutus' of it. One thing is clear that Rohin felt personally humiliated so he went and took some good 'momentum' of journalism more quickly to take opinions from the ex-employees of Flipkart and the anti-Flipkart employees of flipkart. Though Rohin may be right in getting upset on behalf of good journalism and loyal readers of Forbes for being denied a good revealing interview, but to not print the positive aspect of Flipkart, shows wrong journalism and sensationalism. A Forbes should always show class, and this article seems against that. Also, Sachin Bansal in his email to you, in fact, was much polite the way he has reacted with his anger subdued deliberately, but as readers we can tell you that to have an article showing an anti-flipkart article so boldly as if you had material evidence to say it, amounts to Defamation. If I were Sachin, I would sue you for that. OK, now one thing good about Forbes, that I would like to point out is that atleast you brought out the fact that there is something wrong with Flipkart, and it might be a balloon waiting to burst. To us people, this story is like Wankhede Security Guards insulting SRK big time, and beating the excreta out of his ego and showing him his place for behaving so rudely. Except that the Wankhede Security had the right to do so, whereas you did not have to become like Wankhede Security Guards. Rohin, the journalist, can take his revenge out elsewhere and not on Forbes India's publication. Now if you wish to print this feedback or not, I am an Ex-fan of Flipkart, and I was waiting to read an article to know something like this, which instills confidence in us in an old saying that everything that glitters is not gold. Flipkart : - Do what you are doing, focus on customers and please do not cheat, you are too big now to cheat the customer or the investor, if you are. If you are not, you are going right. But please get your attitude modest. Forbes: Please get to good journalism and concentrate on giving the right headlines. The headline 'what's wrong with flipkart' is not apt and you are not an HR magazine to concentrate on that aspect majorly ignoring the business aspect.
Susheel Kumar
View on Forbes India Article: Forbes India, you were indeed quite bold and sensational in terms of your cover page and the way you narrated the article, without any facts and figures or evidences of good journalism or the substantiation of the content of your article. 'Sources' can be anybody, 'off-the-record' can be anything, even a F letter word for the employer or the organisation, who doesn't swear by his boss, everybody does. Everybody is unhappy with payscales, increments and work load. There's always more for need, less for greed - quoted. There seems to be some truth in the story, is also an assumption made by Forbes, and it seems very clear now that Rohin/Indrajit/Forbes Journalists felt bad that their questions were not answered directly by Sachin Bansal, and hence you went on to show the might of your pen or mouse, and published an article that shatters the essence of the success of Flipkart. If you were so good at judging work culture and management style, why is your advice not taken by Homeshop18.com and why is it not more successful than Flipkart then? After reading your article, the only thing that every reader will start thinking is that Flipkart's inner circle is strong and secretive (which is not incorrect if it is for the good of the company and for the good of the management and it is great to have that kind of group), the employees are not very happy, atleast some of them; that Flipkart's balance sheets are or may be falsely portrayed; that Flipkart's inner circle is going through 'Julius Caesar' and 'Et tu Brutus' of it. One thing is clear that Rohin felt bad so he went and took momentum of journalism more quickly to take opinions from the ex-employees of Flipkart and the anti-Flipkart employees of flipkart. Though Rohin may be right, but to not print the positive aspect of Flipkart, shows wrong journalism and sensationalism. A Forbes should always show class, and this article seems against that. Also, Sachin Bansal, in fact was much polite the way he has reacted with his anger subdued deliberately, but as readers we can tell you that to have an article showing an anti-flipkart article so boldly as if you had material evidence to say it, amounts to Defamation. If I were Sachin, I would sue you for that. OK, now one thing good about Forbes India, that I would like to point out is that atleast you bought out the fact that there is something wrong with Flipkart, and it might be a balloon waiting to burst. To us people, this story is like Wankhede Security Guards insulting SRK big time, and beating the excreta out of his ego and showing him his place for behaving so rudely. Except that Wankhede Security had the right to do so, whereas you did not have the become like Wankhede Security Guards. Rohin, the journalist, can take his revenge out elsewhere and not on Forbes India's publication. Now if you wish to print this feedback or not, I am a Ex-fan of Flipkart, and I was waiting to read an article to know something like this, which instills confidence in us in an old saying that everything that glitters is not gold. Flipkart : - Do what you are doing, focus on customers and please do not cheat, you are too big now to cheat the customer or the investor, if you are. If you are not, you are going right. But please get your attitude modest. Forbes India: Please get to good journalism and concentrate on giving the right headlines. The headline 'what's wrong with flipkart' is not apt and you are not a HR magazine to concentrate on that aspect majorly ignoring the business aspect.
Since you already accept and agree to many issues present at Flipkart, why dont you also accept that someone else can and may come up with different conclusions. If that happens, why take it as an affront. This is a process of debate. Further, if you really have real stuff to tell, Sachin would have countered on financials, on why he did not reply earlier, on why decision making remains coterised. It would have made him a bigger man. His fear lurks somewhere in his writing. For one - 1. He himself was not involved in the revised version of the article. 2. try to argue on areas which are easy 3. Why others may have a different opinion of his company but how it remains immaterial since it does nothing to help him build his company. It is wrong to expect everything is right with posterboys of the world. If someone brings out the truth, we dont need to see it as an attack. it is just a debate.
Why is it that when someone finds something unpalatable, he/she tends to pick the most easy (but highly hazardous) route - accuse the writer/magazine having vested interests! Reader-writer relationship is like husband-wife's. Even though you may not appreciate other person's opinion does not make it a reason to accuse other person of vested interests. If there was a reason why one picked up this magazine earlier (due to its quality, writers, independent stand, objective writing or even sensationalism. Whatever your reason is) then that reason does exists even today. If the magazine deviates from that position, markets will react to it and the mag will suffer. And why is it that Flipkart cannot have issues of its own (i personally know a lot of people from that company and it is one awesome company). BUt what if the writer arrives at these conclusiosn that are different than mine? It is okay, because i don't think i know it all. And there is a pride in knowing more about things. As for the accusations of closed decision making, i have heard a lot stories that support this arguments very much. But knowing it does not reduce the respect i have for Flipkart . Same way, knowing that Flipkart is a good company does not make me close my eyes and ears to reality. Be open is that mantra!
Susheel Kumar
Sachin Bansal, at some point of time, last year, wrote to me, me being a regular customer of flipkart, that 'I should look elsewhere to make my future purchases' if I was expecting better customer service than the one that they already have. Well, all I was expecting from them was Invoice in my name and not the giftee's name everytime I made purchases. I was expecting that Flipkart delivers products on time, some times they did not send the product for more than 10 days. I wrote to the CEO citing these problems and told him that I always looked up to you as you started from scratch and built Flipkart, but his reply was too 'reacting' rather than convincing as a CEO, he wrote like a hawker. He also asked me if I was a reseller because I ordered products to gift to various people across the country. Magnanimity should come from the heart of a leader and show in his words. Please everytime a star shines, do not forget, a comet falls.
rightly pointed out. If sachin Bansal was so worried about building a great comoany, then stop whining. His reply smells less than stellar performance of his company. he should better focus on building his company whihc is already doing great.
Dear IG, The story Forbes has chosen to do on Flipkart, I think is an attempt to tarnish the image of one of India's finest start-up successes. You and your team may have your own motivations behind doing such a story and I don't even want to know what they are. Give some credit to the bunch of guys who have done a splendid job of building one of the finest e-commerce portals in India and executing the idea to perfection. You guys must be really kidding when you compare Flipkart with Indiaplaza and the way both the companies stock inventory. If Indiaplaza was 'the' idea how come no one wanted to bet on them or their strategy? And as for the culture, I am really not sure if you or your colleagues ever worked in a start-up. Please understand as founders you tend to count on people who deliver and you could get counted too if you have delivered more than what is expected of you and contribute to the business. But in a fast paced, high growth environment like Flipkart, I think there is no room for B players with C attitude towards the business or the common goal and I am sure as founders none of us would have time for that kind of people. If Sachin or Binny didn't let them in to their inner circle the B player can either work hard to get there or leave the company and join Flipkart bashers and sulk with them. I know a Flipkart that offered a profile to someone who just walked in seeing a board outside that said "we are hiring" and when asked about compensation he said "anything works". They saw the passion here and I am sure he is not from the IIT-D Jwalamukhi Hostel. I know a Flipkart whose first order got fulfilled by buying a book in one of Bangalore's malls in Koramangala and hand delivered one of the Bansals. While these are inspirational and nice to hear stories, there might be another side full of horrific stories. But every coin has 2 sides and really depends on how you want to look at it. You can either present a story of success, story of hope, story of determination and grit and do the company a world of good or you can always present the dark side, sensationalize the story and sell more copies "this month". I think your team has been too short sighted and decided to take the latter approach where you want to increase your sales by a few percentage points. I am sure you will succeed for now but this might hurt your brand if you are to be serious about business journalism in India. For heaven's sake the guys have toiled hard to get where they are and they have braved all odds to get here. Don't try to discredit them. Write them off at your own risk. I guess one bad press cannot put a great idea like Flipkart down. If you think I am a Flipkart employee, you are mistaken and have never worked with Flipkart. I am just a guy who has been following the company for a while and a great admirer of the kind of things they do.
It is sad for Forbes India to sensationalize what is otherwise the norm in most companies. Be it a closed-knit inner circle or irregular financial statements, all of these are fairly common occurrences in most companies. Honestly it feels like a feeble attempt to cash in on Flipkart's success! Guys please respect the fact that despite all the seemingly negative factors, Flipkart today is the one of the biggest and most successful online business in India. It was in more than one ways a disruptor in how Indians shop. As the owner of an IT firm as well as a regular user of Flipkart' services, i firmly believe that we don't need to go overboard with factors that some feel are wrong.
I think Sachin shouldn't have even replied to this article. The most successful of companies have always received such allegations including the best ones like Apple. Flipkart is a great company which is taking e-commerce to the next level in India so it shouldn't bother about such articles... Keep going and Livestrong!
Arjun Malakar
I agree with what Mayank has said in his comment. The whole thing seems like a case of paid and biased journalism. The story seems planted and IG's response is as pathetic. Flipkart is setting standards which our country has not seen previously and the best Frobes India could do is try and pull it down? This is something we Indians are best at anyway. Why could not the article be more balanced proposing ways which could take Flipkart even higher. The cover page graphics is even more pathetic. The worst kind of vindictive journalism I have seen.
Injustice has been done and no amount of debate here or elsewhere will change it. Forbes India has benefited from publishing an attention seeking cover story. Flipkart is indeed the new 'darling' of the growing population of online shoppers (and for good reason), not many know Forbes launched in India 3 years back. So, this story gets them fresh readers - some of whom will stick. If the story was about how good Flipkart is, it would be just another story. But this one says, "What's wrong with Flipkart - India's e-commerce darling is headed for a fall". I for one walked a few steps back while passing a newstand last week to confirm if I read it correct. If this headline was not sensationalism, one may have to drop the word from the dictionary. On the other hand, it serves it's group concern Home Shop 18 which has failed miserably in service, culture, or quality by hitting the one competitor that has set market standards and continues to dominate. Speak of two birds with one stone.
Sumit - Have you ever ordered from HomeShop18?. They are pretty good and charges much lower than flipkart. You are mistaken if you order from flipkart at a higher price because of the aura that is "Suppoed to" exist in customer service. Check http://talkabouttech.com/2012/05/12/homeshop18-beating-flipkart-at-its-own-game/ for details. Flipkart services started deteriorating when they ventured into categories other than books. They are as bad as anyone else in Indian Ecom scene now
I have made 51 orders on Flipkart starting 09.06.2009 of almost 2 lac in toto. Mostly books and DVDs, mobile accessories etc. My experience has been impeccable every single time. I am not swayed by their 'hype' so to say - I discovered and became a fan only because I could now get books in India I never imagined I could. The customer service only came as a surprise and has indeed been shockingly positive. Some examples: a) I once ordered a book that had just won the Booker. Paid around 800 for it. The publisher cut the price in the next couple of days to 350 (higher volumes expectations). My order had shipped but not received it yet. I wrote an email (not expecting much) saying I felt stupid to have ordered early. They responded by giving me the new price and refunding the rest as store credit. There was no reason why should have indulged. b) I bought a DVD series box pack at 50% list price. Did not get around to watching it for almost 45 days. When put in the DVD on the 45th day, it didn't work. I wrote an email (again convinced nothing can be done since it was too late). They sent the new set within 4 days (no questions asked) and picked back the old one in the next few weeks. No ecom guy will ever do this. I understand that everyone's experience at customer service is different, but I can vouch on mine. Also, the extraordinary indulgence (like these) may not now be possible given the volumes (though I hope it continues). But if any company has shook the market sheerly by a flexible customer service approach (as opposed to standard responses) it is Flipkart. Jealously is fine. But why not instead copy it. Also I find the democratic structure blah blah argument in running an organization absolute rubbish. Be it Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg or most other innovators, they have been closely held and centrally controlled. If its not centrally controlled, it will be run by "industry standard" and never spring innovations - bold ones.
I agree with you a hundred percent Sumit :)
May be you should read how some other customers were treated in similar cases as well. phandroid.com/2012/06/23/warning-to-our-indian-readers-be-wary-while-buying-devices-from-flipkart dearflipkart.blogspot.com http://sushrutbidwai.com/?p=271 specially that last one, it seems extremely bad how that customer was treated. I decided to move all my shopping to brick and mortar shops since reading that post.
Yes. Flipkart is absolutely the best. I dont stay in one of the Metros and Flipkart has been my only window to whats hot and happening as far as books are concerned. And to top it all, their customer service is one of the best (if not the best) in India. After being swindled by the likes of Indiaplaza and Indiatimes, I'd say Flipkart is the ONLY professional e-shopping platform in India. However, Junglee is behind their backs and thats something that Flipkart must be anxious about..
Rakesh Malhotra
Flipkart has turned from Best-to-Worst. Since August 2011, I and my family members have ordered 109 products worth over Rs.100,000/- to Flipkart. Our total number of orders translate to an order to Flipkart every 2.5 days. From a company which started out with excellent customer service and very competitive pricing, it has turned into yet another street-smart operator, with No Business Ethics and No Customer Commitment. Flipkart neither abides by nor has any respect for the laws of our Country. Sounds unbelievable, but it is true. As an erstwhile loyal customer of Flipkart, I regret to say that Flipkart is now resorting to many Unlawful and Unfair Trade Practices viz. 1. Non-Delivery of Ordered Products after acceptance of the Orders recived by email and receiving Full Payments for the same. (An offense under the Indian Contract Act). 2. Misleading Advertising and Sale of Multiple Products like Books and Office Supplies above their stipulated Maximum Retail Price (MRP). (An offense under the Legal Metrology-Packaged Commodity Rules). 3. Misleading Advertising and Sale of select Toshiba Laptop Computers at marginally lower prices, by removing the Laptop's Carry Case/Backpack, (included by Toshiba India as a supplied accessory). In good faith, the Customers wrongly believe that Flipkart is cheaper than its online, on-air and other competitors. This action by Flipkart not only cheats the Customers but also creates unfair competition on the marketplace. The removed Carry Case/Backpack is sold separately to make extra and illegal profits by Flipkart. (An offense under the Consumer Protection Act). 5. Incorrect Invoicing of Products without mentioning the amount of VAT/CST charged and Invoicing Interstate Sales as Intra-State Sales. (An Offence under the VAT and CST Acts). 6. Use of a non-existent company name "WS Retail Pvt. Ltd." in the Terms of Use of the 'flipkart.com'. No Company with the aforesaid company name exists on the website of the Ministry of Company Affairs, Govt. of India. Consequently the "Terms of Use" are not binding on any User of 'flipkart.com'. The correct name of the company is "WS Retail Services Pvt. Ltd." The wrong company name was rectified only after my communication regarding the same to Mr. Balkrishan Bansal, Director, Mr. Tapas Jagadeesh Rudra Patna, Director, Mr. Sachin Bansal, Co-founder, Mr. Binny Bansal, Co-founder, Mr. Sujeet Kumar, President Operations, Mr. Ravi Vora, Vice President (Marketing) and Mr. Karthik Srinivasan, AVP (Corporate Communications) on 7 May 2012. However, users of 'flipkart.com' have not been informed regarding the name change till date as a communication regarding the same shall give the Old Customers of Flipkart the option to accept/reject the Terms-of-Use of 'flipkart.com'. 8. The Senior Management of Flipkart including all the names mentioned herein above do not bother to respond to Customer Grievances and Complaints, leave alone try to resolve the same. Read more unknown and dirty facts about Flipkart on our blog: http://talkabouttech.com/2012/05/12/homeshop18-beating-flipkart-at-its-own-game/
Gopal S Golan
Is your name Rakesh Malhotra or Udit Malhotra? Your post is suspiciously similar in language, temper and tone as Udit Malhotra's comment made at 12:04 pm on June 26, 2012. Scroll up to see. Must be brothers, I assume, and making a double attack on Flipkart.
I agree with you Sumit, 100%. I just had the misfortune of purchasing a 12 months Forbes Subscription (at 50% off store price) from Infibeam.com ( a competitor for Flipkart.com) as Flipkart does not offer magazine subscriptions. I am not a fan nor enemy of Flipkart or Forbes. I have ordered books, DVDs & Audio CDs and I am very happy with Flipkart's service, delivery & condition of products, given I live in a Tier 2 city with relatively lower access to branded gadgets & gizmos. As Regards Forbes, I was under the serious impression that this magazine is the authorized Indian edition of the respected US Forbes. However, I was late to notice this was not the Case. The US Forbes have simply licensed the Magazine's circulation rights to a Infomedia 18 (Network 18 group of companies owned jointly by Raghav Behal & Mukesh Amabni of Reliance Industries). The Indian editorial team of Forbes India does not seem to match the high standards set by the US Forbes, Character Assassination is certainly not one of them.
The article by Forbes states the truth. The culture part is pretty close. I know some senior ex-employees of Flipkart who shared the same story -- the opacity of the Bansals, their closed minded-ness to views other than their owns or of their loyalists. Anyone with an independent and diversely different view from Bansals or the inner circle may not be welcome -- is obvious from various conversations. Kudos to Forbes India for not licking the boots of surely going-to-be rich startup guys but stating facts of the rotten culture thats a part of large portion of India's corporate and startup life. Few people call the crap out. Forbes India has just done that. In reality nothing much will happen. The VCs will pat their backs and write nice sounding personal notes to them and carry on. Perhaps they should rethink their investments and whether the current management team is the right one.
S... you flipkart
What is your problem with flipkart management?. Obviously they were taking huge losses to acquire customers and have ran out of funding. When you were a darling of everyone everything was fun and hunky dory and when people point fingers at you there is an issue with people. Please shut down your shop fast and after reading this article I think you will shut it down faster than I thought you will :D.
Praveen Kumar
As a close observer of how technology business is covered in Indian media, I thought that the cover story, the CEO's response to it, and the counter response from the editor were all weak in substance. In accusing Forbes India of bias and polarised reporting, Mr. Bansal is employing a very clever, but crude, strategy to take focus away from some of the more serious insinuations by the magazine. And in not spotting it correctly, Mr. Gupta also responded in an inane fashion. Last year around the same time, Forbes India carried a cover story on ecommerce and the reporting team managed to miss some prominent ecommerce players - including one from their own fraternity - homeshop18.com! While it is tempting to think that magazines like Forbes provide authoritative reporting on the subjects they cover, there are too many instances when they do less than complete job of painting a fuller picture.
Company Culture being in question is a fad these days, so not much to worry about Mr. Bansal, however, issues raised on the veracity of your financial statements needs to be taken seriously. Given the fact that, Forbes is a much more established brand than flipkart, people will definately take their statements more seriously. However, nothing much to worry about uptill you are able to put smiles on your current & prospective customers' faces.
Forbes India As an avid reader of business journalism, I tend to agree with most of the points (not all) mentioned by Sachin Bansal in his rebuttal. Your story on Flipkart is an attempt in sensational journalism. His point on carrying statistics on people with educational backgrounds different from theirs (i.e. not from IIT - D) is very vaild as it would have helped us form better opinion. The issue of culture as rightly mentioned by Mr. Bansal is a 'nebulous' one and is subject to multiple interpretations. Yes, may be there is a strong inner circle in Filpkart but if they are taking the right decisions for the organisation and customer - its only fair. Having worked in few large organisations, let me tell you many a times the decisions are made by an inner set of senior management employees and rest have to adhere to the same and implement. A well run organisation need not put every action well thought by a competent bunch of people 'to vote'. In that scenario - Apple's story would be sure to attract only brick bats from your reporter Rohin (at least on the culture aspect). Yes, as clarified by Mr Gupta - the responses on financial practises adopted by Flipkart does require more inputs. But the undue impotance given to the culture aspect of Flipkart does 'undermine' your investigative journalism quite substantially. Also, the points made by Mr Bansal about twitter promotions too can be ignored as they are more a rant about a 'not so great story' about their company. Lastly, the reader does have a mind of its own and if this was an attempt to attract more long term readership - your publication did not do a great job!!
To your last point , here i am trying to draw my own conclusions :) http://www.quora.com/Flipkart/What-can-be-interpreted-from-forbes-article-about-possible-fall-of-flipkart

Pingback: Quora

Articles that don't propose solutions to problems are just gossip. It would've been awesome if the great brand called Forbes had written an article saying "How Flipkart can be even more successful". Forbes Magazine - you CAN & SHOULD do better!!!
In response to "Theswamy"-- i think this guy is making sensational statements. Forbes India is calling out the need for introspection on the rotting culture in Indian startups of basically inexperienced guys. They started something -- maybe some experienced folks need to run the organization to scale it. The IIT-D youngsters and their closed group has had enough of a fun ride. All of these are solutions really -- pointing out the need to view critically the hiring policies of companies and how people group up and screw outsiders in companies. Surely theswamy cannot read between the lines for the solution!
If you give me a billion dollars to burn, I can become customer obsessed company and ship Condoms in a Mercedez Benz I can then have a word of mouth from delighted customers saying ..I am out of the world . My silly shipment came in a Mercedez free of cost with Cash on Delivery ? Is that a business ? I need education sir, or I will continue to envy the intelligence of Tigers and Accels.
Gopal S Golan
If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
Why does Sachin not defend the business model and financial stability and prospective profitability of Flipkart and focus only on defending the culture?
Pradeep Mehta
Dear Mr. Gupta, Having read your cover story, Mr. Bansals response and your response to the same I would like to put forward my views on Forbes and Flipkart. I have been a Forbes reader right from the 1st issue in India and I have been a loyal client of Flipkart for over a year now. For few reason I feel Forbes has not done justice to Flipkart in the cover story. Of what I understand from Mr. Bansals response is that they agreed to be interviewed based on certain expectations from Forbes. Flipkart has spent alot of time positioning itself in the market and it obviously expects (when being on Forbes cover page) to be focused on key issues they feel are important and the way it is picturised. I am the founder/owner of a start up in Hyderabad and was interviewed by many local papers and magazines here. The initial discussion about what was the focus of the interview and what gets published were totally different. It not only created difficulties to position ourself in the market (cause of the wrong perception of the reporter/author) it also took us a while and cost us to over come the damage. And all this for no direct interest in the business of the interviewee. As a journalist i understand you need to publish facts and your views. Your views end of the day are not facts, they are just opinions based on certain data gathered from various direct and indirect sources. But those opinions should not become a base to project the negatives of ones hard work. In this matter I do go with Mr. Bansal and not appreciate the way Forbes and your response to Mr. Bansal have worked on the cover story. Regards, Pradeep
If a company wants the publication to sing peans about them and print what they want, then they can always pay and get an advertisement. And if readers expect journalists / magazines to give solutions to the company's business problems they are looking in the wrong place. They should look at business consulting firms to provide solutions. The job of a journalist and a publication is to do their research / interviews and share their "perspective". Which is what the story does. Like Indrajit said, readers are smart and have to form their own opinion. If you are finding it difficult to digest the journalist's perspective then as a reader you have the freedom to do your own research further to form your own opinions.
Very well said, Shiwani. a person picks up a magazine what the writer had to say. If he/she does not like it, then that's part of writer-reader relationship. You don't accuse the writer.
Everybody is seeing that flipkart is losing customers loyalty. Look at some of the relevant blogposts - phandroid.com/2012/06/23/warning-to-our-indian-readers-be-wary-while-buying-devices-from-flipkart dearflipkart.blogspot.com http://sushrutbidwai.com/?p=271
Rajashekar G.
"What's wrong with Flipkart - India's e-commerce darling is headed for a fall" If this isn't sensationalism, tell me what is. The headline plus the cover image makes it seem like a foregone conclusion that Flipkart will fail.
Forbes, your arguments are really not as logical as you want to make them sound. Investigative journalism is great - but making comments such as a company should not care about its direct competitors because board members said competition is not a benchmark - you have got to be kidding us if you use that kind of a defense-mechanism. Of course, every single company cares about competition, and if an employee who is working at a competing firm speaks against Flipkart, its just one man's word against another's. Also, you guys say many employees spoke 'off-the-record' - really, what is in it to make the reader believe these employees are not fictitious? I am an avid Forbes reader, but sensationalist stories like these mean I will definitely looking at better avenues to satiate my appetite for business-related journalism.
 
 
Indrajit Gupta
Journalist, student of management and strategy, cricket crazy, movie buff. And formerly the Editor at Forbes India
 
 
 
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November 18, 2014 13:03 pm by Chicago Homeshop18 India | shoppingfees.com
[...] Flipkart CEO responds to our cover story | Forbes India … – Sachin Bansal, the CEO of Flipkart, wrote to me over the weekend reacting to our cover story on the company. What he wrote to me is re-produced below ad verbatim…. [...]
November 26, 2013 23:36 pm by What happens if Flipkart Fails? | Saurabh Jain
[...] Sachin Bansal’s interesting reply to the article. [...]
September 11, 2012 23:48 pm by Ashish
I love FlipKart. It's a fact that they have proven that one can provide world class service in India despite of the challenges of poor infrastructure and no customer friendly culture whatsoever in our society itself. I have bought stuff like books to electronics several times (at least 8 times) fro...
September 08, 2012 01:16 am by Sambodh Kaul
Mr Sachin Bansal should teach his Customer Care Department some "Acknowledgement Etiquettes". I was their regular customer with an extensive Order History but they lost me on account of their Lousy Customer Assistance. His staff is not even aware of the precise difference between "Account De-Ac...
September 03, 2012 11:26 am by prajeesh
dear fobes, i think your review was a little over the edge. you think what ever bull the american business culture brings with it is correct and what all others think is wrong. Do take time to appreciate the work they have done in an environment which 10 times as competitive as any europian or ame...