Shopping online in India is very hit or miss, there are lots of great bargains with great products but then there are some products that are blatant imitations. Which happened to me the other day after placing an order on Amazon for biscuits as I had a craving for biscuits made the good old fashioned way that I grew up with. Though majority of the purchases I have made online are all quality genuine products. The most common hassle when shopping is receiving the wrong size or wrong product.
I always research everything before buying it online but sometimes you just have to take a gamble. This may be because no one has purchased the product before or the retailer might be new. I took such a gamble with these biscuits given they were relatively affordable at 220 rupees for three boxes. However I was greatly disappointed when I received my order in the mail. The biscuits were not what you would expect of a classic jam filled biscuit, hazelnut chocolate filled biscuit (known as a Kingston Biscuit in Australia) or chocolate chip cookie. You would expect that the photograph advertised on the packaging would depict the product inside. But it was merely for representational purposes, and was far from it. The packaging was faded as though they had possibly reused left over packaging. The biscuits weren't nicely presented in a plastic tray and covered in clear plastic. Instead it appeared to be a large reused alfoil bag that was then heated on each side to seal it. The biscuits were wafer thin, burnt and exceptionally hard, yet they were all broken and chipped. The filling was smeared on sparingly and was not exactly the consistency of chocolate. All in all they looked like they had been made by a toddler at home in the family home and not manufactured in a commercial kitchen.
Naturally I contacted Amazon directly who forwarded my complaint to the retailer. I am fortunate to have received a refund but so many people don't. I seem to be taken more seriously as a westerner. However a friend purchased shoes online that were too big in size and was told he couldn't even exchange them for the correct size. I wrote the complaint for him and hopefully he receives an exchange or refund. This seems to be the norm in India. I see so many reviews from customers who are unhappy and not issued a refund. These retailers then continue to profit with their inferior products. It really shouldn't happen but it is the norm here.
Amazon is one of the better online retailers as they do provide refunds when you don't receive what you paid for or they stuff up your order. It is a common occurrence, whereby staff send you the wrong product or usually the wrong size. I purchased a pair of Punjabi Jutti online only to be sent a completely different design to what I ordered with a note telling me they ran out of stock and hope I like this design as a replacement. It looked nothing like the design I ordered and I had to go to the trouble of returning it at their expense. Simply because they thought they knew better. This I find frustrating that retailers assume they know best. This actually tends to happen quite frequently with retailers assuming they know best your needs, even after expressly advising them of your preferences.
Regarding the Punjabi Jutti, Amazon were helpful in providing me a full refund for not receiving what I paid for and allowed me to keep the goods. Being a globally recognised brand is why I trust shopping with them. Other online retailers refuse to issue refunds even when they are at fault. Several instances with LimeRoad I ended up out of pocket because they sent me the wrong size. I ordered shoes in European size 39 to receive a size 36. Then a few other occasions I have ordered size XL to receive XXL or L. I wasn't in a position to exchange them because of course they were all sold out. Surely if they sent me the wrong size then someone else out there must have the correlating size that I ordered? I had to pay for a tailor to take in the larger size and the smaller size I will just have to lose some weight. Unfortunately I can't make my feet shrink to fit the size European 36.
Since there are no laws in place to protect consumers in India there are plenty of scammers out there. Such as imitation products and false or misleading information. Be sure to read my post about How To Shop Safely Online In India for more information on how to avoid being scammed. This is why I love shopping at markets as you can see the quality for yourself and haggle for the price you are willing to pay. Just be sure not to be charged more than the retail price and a small percentage for being a foreigner, as you will always be charged considerably more than locals no matter how cheap you think the price is. As long as the price seems fair to you then that is the main thing as I believe in supporting local artisans. I am fortunate that I always shop with family or friends who know what prices to pay so I am never overcharged.
Despite the hassles with shopping online I have still managed to get some great bargains that were better than advertised. Shopping for ethnic clothing is my favourite as I love picking out an outfit to wear to a wedding. The photo below are all items that I have purchased online through LimeRoad, Myntra and Amazon. Though LimeRoad have a tendency to send the incorrect sizes therefore I needed the kurti to be taken in though once this was done it fitted perfectly. When it comes to dressing up in India the more bling the better. I do try to tone down my bling and keep it simple. I purchased the Forever 21 stiletto's when I was in Australia in preparation for when I arrived in India. At 1,000 rupees this is a great bargain for patent leather stiletto's made by a trusted international brand. That is equivalent to approximately $20 AUD. Buying pieces separately means you can match your dupatta to any colour in your kurti. Gold tends to be in every kurti making a gold dupatta a very versatile accessory. This delicate lace dupatta was 600 rupees which is a little more than I would normally pay for a simple chiffon dupatta. But given it is elegant and versatile I can wear this with any outfit.
Items Purchased Online In India
It isn't only ethnic attire that you grab a bargain on, you can also buy great western clothing for super cheap in comparison to Australia. Though be careful not to buy imitations. Apart from that you can get plenty of bargains on last season products or last sizes. Even current trends are still cheaper than most other countries. I love tassels it is such a boho chic trend that I will never tire of. I found some great bargains such as this hand knitted woolen tassel poncho for 700 rupees. Since I couldn't pack many Winter clothes in my suitcase I needed something to slip on during the colder months. This was the perfect option, and is light enough to wear during the evenings when the weather warms up.
Items Purchased Online In India
All in all you need to be careful when shopping online in India, so be sure to read my post How To Shop Smartly Online In India. But as you can tell majority of the purchases I have made are all quality genuine products and the only hassle that I have experienced is poor service from the retailer sending wrong sizes. Shopping for western groceries is where you need to be more careful as this is where I have received products not as advertised. With the biscuits being the worst of the lot. Don't be afraid to shop online as you will find lots of great buys that you won't find at a market.
Have you had any bad experiences shopping online in India?
What are the best products you bought online in India?