After Snapdeal, Flipkart has dragged a brand to court for sending out customer advisories against e-commerce players. Flipkart has sued Nikon India in the Karnataka High Court for placing an alert on its website, cautioning customers from buying from its online marketplace.
Nikon India had posted a notice on its website on June 16, 2014, stating that e-commerce websites like Flipkart and Snapdeal “are not our authorised partner/dealer(s)," advising customers to "check the warranty entitlements while buying from online portals."
The Flipkart case against Nikon India was filed on 3 August, and the next hearing has been scheduled on 21 August by Judge BS Patil.
When exchange4media reached out to Flipkart seeking its comment on the case, the portal said, “The matter is subjudice and we do not want to comment on this. Flipkart had filed a case seeking removal of its name from the caution notice hosted on Nikon India website since it was raising doubts on the products being sold on our platform. Products sold on Flipkart are genuine and the warranty for these brands apply as they do in the rest of the market.”
In September 2013, too, Nikon had warned its customers that e-commerce players Flipkart and Snapdeal are not the company's authorised partners in India. The announcement, however, did not appear to have any immediate consequence, as the company’s products were still up for sale on both Flipkart and Snapdeal.
This is not the first brand that has issued an advisory like this. Since last year, a host of brands have issued such advisories against online marketplaces. Top brands LG, Canon, Lenovo, Toshiba, and HP have issued advisories/caution notices over the past year, warning consumer against portals like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon, etc. stating that they had not authorised the sale of their products on online marketplaces.
Flipkart had responded that customers buying Lenovo products would always get genuine products with warranty and other services, while Amazon had said that it was a neutral marketplace and did not determine prices. According to market reports last year, Amazon claimed that sellers were contractually obliged to list genuine products with manufacturer warranty across all brands. It said that it extended 100 per cent customer protection with Amazon’s A-to-Z Guarantee for all products bought on Amazon.in.
Last year, electronics manufacturer LG had issued an advisory stating that the company would not be able to guarantee the originality of products on 3rd party websites. It was reported that Daikin, Haier and Videocon were also discouraging customers from purchasing electronics items such as TVs, washing machines, microwave ovens, fridges and ACs through online marketplaces.
Flipkart’s case against Nikon is the second time in a year that an e-commerce marketplace has raised concerns over brands issuing such advisories. Last year, a suit was filed by Snapdeal seeking immediate stay on a caution notice by kitchen appliances maker Kaff. Snapdeal claimed that the allegations levelled by the appliances company were hurting its reputation in the run-up to the mega Diwali sale and customers have complained that Kaff refused to provide warranties on products purchased from the portal.
Snapdeal did not respond to queries about the advisory sent out by Nikon till the report was published. However, last year, Snapdeal went on record to say that “the warranty from the brand which is applicable for the products purchased through these sellers offline should be applicable to customers purchasing them online as well.”
Since only Flipkart and Snapdeal are named in Nikon’s advisory, other brands that we reached out to chose not to comment.
However, it is clear that online marketplaces are taking a stand and making sure consumers get to see both sides of the story.