For all those living under a rock over the weekend, the Indian technology world was rocked by the announcement Flipkart made over it’s OnePlus 3 offer. Flipkart, which once again announced their Big Shopping Days festival promoted the sale of OnePlus 3. The price of the phone was to be a secret, revealed only on the D day. However, hints made it clear that Flipkart would price the phone below Rs 20,000, a massive discount over their registered and authorised re-seller, Amazon India. When the news initially broke out that Flipkart would begin selling OnePlus 3, a phone launched less than 6 months back and discontinued in most international markets after the launch of OnePlus 3T, everyone was excited. But then the excitement soon turned into questions as it was unclear how could Flipkart sell a smartphone that it was not authorised to sell. Would there be some catch? some repercussions?

Carl pei, the founder of OnePlus seemed equally puzzled and even tweeted to Sachin Bansal, a co-founder of Flipkart asking him to clarify the terms the sale. However, when no reply was forthcoming, OnePlus issued a notice to users warning them against purchasing the smartph0ne from Flipkart, which is not an authorised channel and also informed users that the smartphone might not be original. On the other hand, although Flipkart did not respond to Carl Pei’s tweet, they did talk to multiple media channels and informed them that Flipkart was an open source where sellers could register and sell their goods and if a seller had the phones to sell than they were free to,. This simply made Flipkart sell the OnePlus 3 smartphones in black. On the day of the sale, the OnePlus 3 phones were listed for a price of Rs 18,999 and were instantly Out of Stock as soon as the sale commenced.

The phones were selling for a massive discount of Rs 9000 at Rs 18,999 while their official rate on Amazon India is Rs 27,999. There have been many users who have been complaining to OnePlus India as well as Carl Pei on Twitter regarding this unofficial sale. But unfortunately, no steps have been taken so far. It remains unclear whether the sale was stopped or were the units instantly purchased as the Out of Stock message appeared seconds after the sale went live. There were rumours that the phone would be a refurbished device or that there would be no warranty offered. However, the listing did offer the regular warranty and also did not mention that the phone was a refurbished one. it only increased confusion. The silence from both parties post the sale has definitely not helped matters. But then, this one sale that shook the industry and was the most discussed thing over the weekend made us a wonder a few things. Flipkart announces OnePlus 3 sale; founder Carl Pei asks Sachin Bansal to clarify as OnePlus is Amazon India exclusive

1. Can Flipkart not be trusted anymore? Flipkart, one of the biggest e-commerce portals in the country definitely raised eyebrows when they announced the OnePlus 3 sale. Not being an authorised seller or distributor, Flipkart had no right to sell the device. In simple terms, the sale of OnePlus 3 on Flipkart was that like the grey market. When a giant like Flipkart resorts to such behaviour and does not even bother responding to queries, it does shake our trust in the site. Is Flipkart slowly turning into the grey market? Are they so afraid of competition from Amazon that they are resorting to tricks to boost sales? In such a scenario, can we the customers trust Flipkart and how do we understand that the phones or gadgets that we are purchasing are being sold by authorised sellers and there’s no grey market goods in the offing? PayPal thinks Paytm copied it’s logo, takes the Indian wallet service to court!

2. Why has OnePlus maintained silence since the sale? When the news initially broke out, OnePlus’ founder Carl Pei was all over Flipkart, trying to seek a clarification. But as mentioned above, there was none provided. By evening OnePlus did issue a clarification and a statement to users informing them of the hazards of purchasing the smartphone through Flipkart. But then, when Flipkart still did not back down, they did not take any measures to stop the sales. There was no legal action taken nor any steps to stop the sale of the device. Even after the sale, OnePlus has been mum about the entire thing. Does this mean that it was planned or that OnePlus as a brand does not have any authority over who their re-sellers are?  Of the top 10 Technology Google Search trends of 2016, 9 are smartphones – iPhone 7 and Freedom 251 are the top 2 in the list

3. How did Flipkart price the OnePlus 3 phones so cheap? It is definitely something to wonder about. If these smartphones are original, not refurbished and also with warranty, just how did Flipkart seller manage to get OnePlus 3 units at such a discounted rate? Even if the smartphone is the international model purchased previously or during sale, the rates still don;t add up. While OnePlus 3 has now been discontinued in many international markets, it is still available online at some portals but the price is definitely now as low as Rs 20,000 (after conversion). It raises a lot of questions on the selling model and the security of the brand in terms of distributor network and sellers.

4. Are e-commerce portals slowly turning into grey markets? This is not the first time such an incident has occurred on an e-commerce portal. There are many electronics as well as other goods that are sold without proper authorisation on many e-commerce portals and while such issues have not been highlighted in the past, it does talks of the murkiness that lurks beneath the booming e-commerce portal in the country. Many sellers have shifted from traditional brick and mortal retail stores to offer goods online but the confusion on online portals and the lack of ethics could perhaps turn the trend back to retail stores.