14% consumers say they received mobile phones with foreign language manuals from ecommerce sites


  • • Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo among top brands where consumers received handsets with foreign language manual from ecommerce sites
  • • 12% consumers say they are able to purchase phone models not launched in Indian market via eCommerce sites
  • • In both cases, consumers have reported experiencing issues with warranty and customer service

14% of consumers received mobile phones with foreign language manuals from eCommerce sites in the last 2 years

14% of consumers received mobile phones with foreign language manuals from eCommerce sites in the last 2 years

February 18, 2020, New Delhi: eCommerce sites and apps in the last 5 years have become urban consumers best friends. Almost anything one wants to buy can be found on ecommerce sites with doorstep delivery and great discounts. Sale of gadgets, especially mobile phones brings in a huge chunk of revenue for ecommerce sites as well as for mobile phone manufacturers. So much so that some manufacturers launch their new handset models on ecommerce sites only to boost demand and sales. Between all these good things, some consumers have reported receiving mobile handsets from various ecommerce sites which were not meant to be sold in the Indian market.

LocalCircles did a deep dive in to this issue reported by consumers and conducted a 3-poll survey to assess the consumer pulse on it. The survey received a total of 23,000 votes from across the country.

14% of consumers received mobile phones with foreign language manuals from eCommerce sites in the last 2 years

14% of consumers received mobile phones with foreign language manuals from eCommerce sites in the last 2 years

The first question asked consumers when they ordered a mobile phone via any of the ecommerce sites in the last 2 years, what was their product experience. 14% said they received an original phone with a foreign language manual while 77% said they received an original phone with an English/Hindi manual. 3% said they received a refurbished phone instead of original and just 1% said they received a counterfeit or a fake phone. This indicates that counterfeit mobile phones is not as big an issue as some may think. However, mobile phones intended for say the Chinese market are being shipped to India via international and domestic ecommerce sites. On further research, LocalCircles found out that sellers located abroad and in India are listing products at attractive prices and discounts. While the product is genuine, it is for a foreign market and not for sale in the Indian market.

The consumers reported that they face issues either when they are setting up the phone in case they need assistance because the manual is in foreign language or later when they have a warranty issue and the brand’s local service center in India denies warranty support.

12% consumers in the next question said they are able to purchase phones or models not launched in Indian market from ecommerce sites. 40% said they were not able to do so while 48% were unsure about it.

12% of consumers say they are able to purchase phone models not launched in Indian market via eCommerce sites

12% of consumers say they are able to purchase phone models not launched in Indian market via eCommerce sites

Per several consumers, this practice has been going on for the last few years now and such sellers somehow have managed to continue their modus operandi. This is something that could be addressed to some extent by ecommerce platforms requiring sellers to provide detailed product-market fit and standards declarations and certifications. All mobile phones selling to Indian consumers (offline or online) must have the due BIS CRS certification in place. Any phones with foreign manuals, that are not packaged for the Indian market are not likely to be BIS CRS certified.

It must also be noted that there exists a possibility where the phone model is already BIS CRS certified, the seller is selling the certified phone and amongst the stock of certified phones adding some of the non- certified phones as they are able to make higher margin on such phones.

The final question asked consumers which specific phone brand did they order via ecommerce sites where the manual received was in a non-English and non-Indian language only. 17% said Xiaomi, 12% said Samsung, 3% said OnePlus, 3% Apple and 7% said Vivo. 17% said others while 41% were unsure about it.

Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo amongst top brands where consumers received a mobile phone with foreign manual via eCommerce sites

Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo amongst top brands where consumers received a mobile phone with foreign manual via eCommerce sites

Clearly, some of the leading brands can be found listed by the consumers and in the poll. These brands and all others must engage with the various domestic and international ecommerce platforms more effectively to filter out any such seller listings. In this age of social media and consumer expectations for instant answers, if a customer’s warranty request cannot be honoured, the brand does risk facing a direct or indirect loss in its reputational value. The ecommerce platforms too potentially face the ire of the consumer as many consumers tend to hold the platform responsible for the issue and not the seller.

LocalCircles will be sharing this report with the ecommerce platforms as well as Government stakeholders so the gaps outlined in this report can be addressed.

About LocalCircles

LocalCircles takes Social Media to the next level and makes it about Communities, Governance and Utility. It enables citizens to connect with communities for most aspects of urban daily life like Neighborhood, Constituency, City, Government, Causes, Interests and Needs, seek information/assistance when needed, come together for various initiatives and improve their urban daily life. LocalCircles is free for citizens and always will be!

Akshay Gupta - media@localcircles.com, +91-8585909866

All content in this report is a copyright of LocalCircles. Any reproduction or redistribution of the graphics or the data therein requires the LocalCircles logo to be carried along with it. In case any violation is observed LocalCircles reserves the right to take legal action.

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