Oh Daraz.pk, why you do me like that?

Published: January 31, 2015
Email

I told him to order from Daraz.pk. To me, they were the most trusted online retailer.

A few days ago, a friend called me to check the availability of the iPhone 6 in Karachi. As the phone has not officially launched in Pakistan, and because our market has been deeply infiltrated by sellers who put bogus phones on sale as ‘original’, he did not want to be conned and thus asked me for help.

Daraz.pk was the first place that came to my mind and I told him to order online from them instead of risking the market. To me, they were the most trusted online retailers. And to prove my faith in them, I offered my own credit card for use and address for shipping. What I hadn’t realised then was that Daraz.pk had lost its charm.

After a few weeks of repeatedly calling their helpline, the phone was finally delivered to my address. My friend got an iPhone but I got a lesson for life! The incompetence and unprofessionalism of, one of the biggest online retailers in the country, was baffling.

A few weeks after ordering the iPhone, I ordered a tablet and, as per usual, paid via credit card. I expected the gadget to be delivered within the next two to three weeks. A week and a half later, something prodded me and I decided to check up on the order. When I called them, this is what I was told,

“We cancelled your order as the device received from the supplier did not meet our quality standards.”

Firstly, why was I, the customer, not informed of this cancellation? Secondly, why was the product listed on the website if there was a question of quality? And thirdly, wasn’t the order for the same tablet taken to a different supplier? You can’t possibly have me believe that such a big online retailer has only one supplier for the said product!

In any case, the order had been cancelled; the next pragmatic step on part of the retailer would be to return my money. Here I suggest you get a package that supports unlimited calls and the patience of a snail because you’ll be making lots of calls to get a refund. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Despite this hiccup with the tablet, I decided to test the waters again. I hadn’t lost complete faith just yet and so I ordered another item; the Sony Xperia Z2 mobile phone. But this time, I wasn’t going to take any chances, so I chose the cash-on-delivery option.

While the delivery was in fact made, the moment I opened the box I noticed two things:

1. I could hear loose items moving about inside the box.

2. The box said Xperia D6502 instead of the D6503 model which is what I had ordered; even the delivery slip mentioned the D6503.

Delivery slip

Mobile phone box

I wrote them an email seeking immediate clarification on the item delivered. No one had bothered to respond to that. Then I called their representative and hence started the never-ending chain of highly strange events.

When I informed them about my concerns, I was told to… wait for it… cancel this order! So much for trying to escape the damned cancellations; if they don’t cancel, you will have to. Anyways, I was told to place another order to get the item I had originally paid for. Why? Beats me. So I asked them why they couldn’t just deliver what I paid for in the first place.

And it was then, in that holy moment, that I was found out that Sony had not supplied that model to Pakistan at all!

Yes, yes, I don’t know why they would have the item on their website to begin with either.

Anyhow, now began the hoopla with the money returning again. When I asked for the money back, however, I was told to hand over the item and wait for them to process a refund. They said I might get a cheque from an ‘international bank’. I told them I had lost faith in Daraz.pk and will be returning the device only if their rider brought back cash or a cheque. If they can deliver items via cash-on-delivery, why not return them through this as well? To my prove honesty on my behalf, I offered to seal the box in front of the rider who delivered the phone and sign a paper that said I would return it in this condition upon refund. To this, I was told,

“This is not how our system works, Sir.”

I was flabbergasted. What? You mean you have a system? A system that works?

Later that night, instead of updating me on how they would either deliver the correct item or the refund, I got an email with a link trying to clarify how I might have been ‘mistaken’ and that both the models were identical. It had taken me just two minutes to figure out the difference between the models on the night they delivered. Sony’s official paper says D6503 is LTE enabled while D6502 is not.

At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I shared that white paper link and a screenshot of their portal on Warid’s website listing the latter model as an LTE smartphone. I told them that the retailers were either misguiding me or Warid customers. Beaten by the ‘system’ at Daraz.pk, I unboxed the phone and started using it.

A couple of days ago, a colleague shared a link from Warid’s website that does not include D6502 among LTE enabled Sony smartphones. While in contact with Daraz.pk through email/phone conversations, I observed that on their website the specifications of mobile phone models were being repeatedly altered. Same was the case with Warid’s website portal that sells LTE smartphones and is managed by Daraz.pk. Both websites initially did not have any model details but now show that the D6502 is not LTE enabled. Also, Daraz.pk shows three versions (D6502/D6503/D6543) in the title of the product.

This is what misleads customers, they put different models into the same category knowing fully that each model has different features. And despite them having stated that D6502 was not LTE enabled, they insisted that I keep the phone because it was.

What to do?

A friend suggested contacting their CEO, who is known to be a very cooperative and honest man. I searched for his LinkedIn profile and sent him a message. The next day I dropped another message on their Facebook account. I haven’t received a reply yet.

Steve Jobs famously used to say,

 “Never listen to your customers.”

Maybe our budding online retailers take that bit too literally. They say satisfied customers tell three friends and angry customers tell 3000. Maybe they should have read that as well.

Saqib Sajjad

Saqib Sajjad

A banker by profession who loves advocating the opportunities technology can offer. He tweets @ssajjad01 (twitter.com/ssajjad01)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.