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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Flipkart Black Friday Sale is an endless list of asterisks with no real savings

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A few months ago, Flipkart hosted a bunch of massive season sales with some mind-bending deals on smartphones. The one in August as well as the Big Billion Days sale saw some of the most popular smartphone selling with massive price cuts and great EMI-based offers. I myself was among the people in the queue to get my hands on the iPhone SE 2020, which sold for almost Rs 15,000 less than the original price. However, Flipkart is hosting another Black Friday sale today and it is kind of shady at best. Also Read – Toshiba Ultimate 4K TV Review (50U5050)

Like most Indian shoppers, I headed over to Flipkart this morning in search of some good deals on smartphones. After spending 15 minutes going through the list of offers, I found all the highlighted offers followed by an asterisk. And, one look at the prices had me wondering why should one buy anything today compared to any other normal day? Allow me to explain. Also Read – Tesla chief Elon Musk is now 2nd richest in world, surpasses Microsoft’s Bill Gates

Flipkart Black Friday Sale isn’t really a sale

In the minds of us Indian consumers, a sale is an event where you find all products with some sort of discounts, or freebies, or offers. The whole point of hosting a sale is to lure customers with slightly lower prices in order to make more sales, or clear the inventory. A classic example is the Flipkart Big Billion Days sale, where you were actually paying less for products that you wanted. Also Read – Amazon Fire TV gets Hindi support for Alexa

Screenshot from Flipkart Black Friday sale page

That’s not the case with today’s Flipkart Black Friday Sale. Almost all of the listed offers on smartphones are essentially carrying the same price tag that you would find on them on a non-sale day. Moreover, there’s a clever trick to show that you are saving a few bucks, even if in reality, you aren’t. Check out the page for yourself from here.

For example, check out the deal on the Realme 7 Pro. Flipkart lists a discount of Rs 1,000 with the listed price of Rs 19,999. Last I checked, Realme launched the base variant of the Realme 7 Pro at Rs 19,999. The canceled price is simply the MRP of the product, something that I bet no customer has paid ever since Realme launched the phone.

Do you want more examples? The Redmi 9i is selling at Rs 8,999 for the 128GB variant while the Realme 7i is selling at Rs 11,999. The Moto G9 is up for grabs at Rs 9,999 while the ultra-premium Motorola Razr 5G, which is also on “sale”, is selling at Rs 1,24,999. The Apple iPhone XR is selling at Rs 38,999 while the Samsung Galaxy S20+ is listed at Rs 49,999. The popular Poco X2 is selling at Rs 16,499. Last I checked, these phones were selling at the same prices on a non-sale day.

Screenshot from Flipkart Black Friday sale page

In case of the Realme X3, Flipkart has listed it on the banner page starting at Rs 21,999. However, the variants that are actually available on sale cost Rs 22,999. The Google Pixel 4A is back on sale at its launch price of Rs 31,999 – no actual discounts here. The LG G8X, which rose to fame in the Big Billion Days sale, is now selling at Rs 27,999, almost Rs 8,000 more than the offer price in the previous sale. These are good deals but you are not actually saving enough on these.

The funny part here is the addition of an asterisk at the end of each price listing. The Xiaomi Mi 10T is listed at a price of Rs 32,999. Quite tempting, isn’t it? Well, follow the asterisk and you will see that the lower price of Rs 32,999 includes the exchange discount of Rs 3,000 on exchange. The iPhone SE carries an asterisk at the end of its EMI price offer. In fact, the SBI offer of 5 percent off itself carries an asterisk, which means you can only get it on selected phones and a total discount of Rs 1,000 at max.

Flipkart, Amazon have long held these “namesake” sales

The Flipkart Black Friday Sale isn’t the first of its kind. Every other morning, you will see news websites carrying clickbait headlines citing terms such as “massive price cut”, or “price drop,” or “massive discounts.” While these help in pulling more readers to the website, none of them actually list the truth. Both Flipkart and Amazon keep pulling off these sales, citing false discounts in a bid to boost sales towards the weekend, or during a lean month.

Screenshot from Flipkart Black Friday sale page

Surely, there are business reasons behind these sales, and both Flipkart, as well as Amazon, have the right to push products during the lean season to keep the cash registers flowing. However, putting up fake savings figures with endless asterisks is unethical and only misleads the consumer. I bet there’s no harm in honestly stating, “hey consumers, we are hosting an event where we have replenished the stocks of your favorite products. You should check them out. There aren’t many discounts but you find a sweet deal on your favorite smartphone.” I don’t know about you but that would increase my respect for the platform.

I know that this piece won’t bother either Flipkart or Amazon, and you might see another one of these sales next week, and the week after, and so on. That said, you as the Indian consumer are more educated about the market than ever and a majority of you will see through these unethical practices, thereby discouraging such misleading practices in the days to come.

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