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#BigBillionDay sale blunder: Flipkart apologises, govt probes

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MUMBAI: The sale that was touted as the biggest sale in India by shoppers across the country seems to have disappointed many. With a mile long complaint list which included everything from server errors to price issues, abrupt cancellations among others, the dissatisfied and disgruntled customers backlashed on social media, with hashtags branding them as ‘Flopkart’ trending.

A day after the failure of the the Big Billion Day Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal apologised for the chaotic and unpleasant experiences faces by the customers on 6 October.

“Yesterday was a big day for us. And we really wanted it to be a great day for you. But at the end of the day, we know your experience was less than pleasant. We did not live up to the promises we made and for that we are really and truly sorry,” the Bansals, wrote in a joint email to customers.

The e-commerce firm said 1.5 million people shopped at its portal on 6 October to take benefit of the one-day sale scheme. The company claimed it sold products worth over Rs 600 crore in just 10 hours under the scheme. The company had announced deep discounts for products in over 70 categories.

"And though we saw unprecedented interest in our products and traffic like never before, we also realised that we were not adequately prepared for the sheer scale of the event. We didn't source enough products and deals in advance to cater to your requirements," the founders said.

They added that the load on server led to intermittent outages that impacted shopping experience on the website.

Flipkart had deployed nearly 5,000 servers and had prepared for 20 times the traffic growth - but the volume of traffic at different times of the day was much higher than this, the mail revealed.

Talking about the out-of-stock issues, the founders reckoned, “We had ensured availability, anywhere from hundreds to a few lakh units for various products, but it was nowhere near the actual demand. We promise to plan much better for future promotions and ensure that we minimise the out-of-stock issues."

The e-mail further stated, "We realise that this breaks the trust our customers have put in us. We are truly sorry for this and will ensure that this never happens again.”

"Everything that we have achieved at Flipkart is purely on the basis of our customer's trust and faith...We failed to live up to this promise and would like to apologise once again to every single customer for our failure," the founders concluded.

Not only customers complained against the Big Billion Day sale, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has also sought a probe into the business model and trade practices of e-commerce companies to find out how they are offering huge discounts during the ongoing festive season. It also demanded setting up of a special task force of experts to conduct an in depth probe of working of such companies.

Also according to media reports, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman expressed concerns over Flipkart flash sale controversy.

"We have received many inputs regarding Flipkart episode. Lot of concern has been expressed and we will look into it," Sitharaman said.

After receiving many complaints regarding the Big Billion Day sale, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman commented, "We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will study the matter... Whether there is a need for a separate policy or some kind of clarification is needed, we will make it clear soon," the reports added.

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