Is eBay India complicit in selling stolen goods?

We all know someone or the other who reaps the benefits of shopping and trading online, but the emerging e-commerce industry in India has its share of problems ranging from delivery delays, errant customer service, misplacing orders or even unfair T&C that leave many an Indian customer confused and often powerless to act against any online shopping portal.

While Flipkart’s Big Billion Day was one classic example of customer ire calling out the retailer over its shortcomings to deal with the increased demands, it was hardly the first in a series of gaffes and ethical issues often treaded carelessly around by e-commerce portals.

However, the often battered image of e-tailing seems to have hit a new low with reports of counterfeit goods being sold via an E-commerce giant to a customer in the national capital.

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Kshitij Arora, a Delhi-based professional working with an NGO purchased a Google Nexus 5 from eBay India coupled with a year’s warranty in May 2014, but learnt in Feb 2015 that he had been delivered a smuggled item and that the product consequently, could not be repaired from LG Service Center, the official customer care unit for his model.

eBay India, on being contacted by Kshitij regarding the complaint, stated that it was in no way responsible or obligated to help and Arora was advised to interact directly with the ‘verified seller’ on his own. On attempting to do so, he realized that the particulars, namely the address and contact details of the seller provided eBay were a dead end and essentially non-existent, despite eBay’s certification as a ‘verified seller’.

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It is a matter of grave concern if verified sellers on eBay are indeed selling smuggled items on the website. Since eBay does not disclose the contact details of the seller, there is no way to verify if a customer is getting a genuine deal or not.

Moreover, Arora, in a Facebook post late Tuesday evening, warned users that the eBay guarantee is valid only for one month. Hence any discovery questioning a product’s credibility/ingenuity after one month of purchasing absolves eBay of any kind of liability whatsoever. (irrespective of the warranty period being active).

Arora maintained that his concerns were discussed with eBay representatives, but ‘they took it extremely casually and refused to do anything about it.’ Kshitij spoke of one eBay representative as being ‘so shameless that he asked if I was forced to buy the product from eBay.’

At a time when more people depend on the Internet and web portals for tasks like shopping and countless other activities, such an incident can be severely damaging to the kind of trust required between e-commerce websites and its customers who are often unknowingly given a raw deal under the guise of the ‘fine print’.

Note that, prior to the time of publishing, the seller as mentioned in eBay’s invoice to Arora (Classic Enterprises) was contacted by us over telephone for a comment on the matter, but denied having delivered the product at all. There was no further response.