Fake Free Gift Offers

Few years back when I was sailing as a marine engineer, a colleague on one of my ships had bought a laptop from the USA. It was the thanksgiving season and the stores there were brimming with free gift and discount offers for most of the products. A core 2 Duo laptop was an object of desire back then, and the configuration that he bought would have cost him about 50-60 thousand rupees easily in India. But after discount, he got it for 650$ which came to around 28000 Indian rupees back then. Along with that he got few free items like a carry bag and a usb TV tuner card. For me, it was kind of an offer of the century. For anyone residing in USA, this was a daily affair. Sad thing was that my friend was an Indian, not a resident of the US, because the laptop had a very good money back offer if returned within few months.

Yesterday I read about a very good offer on Samsung LED TVs in the newspapers. So I went to check out in a well known local store. The very first disappointment I had to face was due to the fact that even though it is a very reputed chain of stores in my city, they did not stock the latest model of the television that I had in mind. They were an entire generation behind in TV models. Secondly, the staff was not sure what TV I was talking about and they had to keep on asking the one “expert-knows it all” guy that the store employed. I came back home and decided to call up the the customer support number that was given in the advertisement in the papers.

The phone was answered by a lady, who seemed to be harassed by repeated phone calls. She informed that this was nth number of times that she had informed that it was a wrong number which we were dialing. Then we called up few other store numbers that were given. One of them informed that the TV was not in stock but he could get it for me. He quoted the price as 81500 rs. which I knew was the fair market price, as I had done some enquiries before. Then I enquired about the offer and I was shocked to hear that the offer was only valid if I bought the TV for the maximum retail price of 1,01,000 rupees. Also the seller informed that 18 months finance scheme was available, while the advertisement informed that they had a 10 months finance scheme.

I called up another vendor given in the list and he seemed to have the model, but quoted a price of 94,000 rs. I asked him that another shop had quoted 81500 rs and he informed that the other store might have quoted without the offer. He was selling the TV with the offer for the M.R.P. of 94,000 rs. This was another shock to me as the M.R.P., which is printed by the manufacturer, Samsung in this case, was being quoted differently by different shopkeepers.

I had enquired about the price previously and I deduced that Samsung is bundling out some of their products along with the products sold on large scale, using the cheap market tricks which are bring used in India since a long time. Samsung delivers the TV to the sellers with price much less then the M.R.P., but is anyone wants to avail the offer you need to shell out the M.R.P. So what do you deduce from it? There are no free products in India. If anything is free, or if the products have been discounted, the prices are already increased for that product before they are sold under offer. I saw the M.R.P. for that TV on Samsung official website. It is 99,900 rs. None of the figures quoted by the sellers I spoke to, were anywhere near it. Infact the one person who quoted close by, actually quoted above the M.R.P. which is a crime by consumer laws in India. The M.R.P. for the TV on Samsung official site is way above the price a which it is sold in shops. The difference of about 15,000 rs. is not at all justified, since it gives a free hand to the sellers to loot the consumers at their will.

This is total Chaos in Consumerism. People are being cheated at all walks of life. I always do some investigation on the internet before buying any product with higher price. But not the millions who fall for such “offers”. I have seen people buying at huge price because either the product is being bought by millions or the chain of stores is well known or the offer is valid only for a short interval. But no one ever uses the tool, that we call the internet, to avoid being cheated. The people in USA have been effectively using internet to avoid being cheated. Websites like ebay, walmart, bestbuy, amazon sell out almost everything a person needs, with heavy discounts, free gifts and lots of guarantees about the genuineness of the product. People rely on this sites for half their shopping. Not so in India. We would buy from the few select chain of stores and get cheated rather then make an informed decision through the internet.

If anyone wants to have some fun, here’s the product link on Samsung’s official website. Go ahead, make some calls..

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