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Will OnePlus 3 from Flipkart get warranty support from manufacturer?

OnePlus 3, arguably the most successful premium phone of 2016 in India, may not get warranty support from the manufacturer if purchased from Flipkart, going by a statement by the company.

The company issued a statement that seemed to suggest that Flipkart’s sale of the model is not authorized by the company.

“We have an exclusive partnership with Amazon in India. We advice customers to purchase OnePlus products only through official channels as we cannot guarantee the authenticity of the products sold elsewhere,” the company said.

Typically, warranty is provided to a device based on the purchase invoice or bill to ascertain the genuineness of the stock and the date of the purchase. Since the only authorised distributor, going by the above statement, is Amazon seller Amiable Electronics, any stock purchased from others may not get manufacturer warranty support.

However, it is possible to obtain support if the buyer is able to show a bill or invoice from Amiable Electronics or Amazon.

OnePlus founder Carl Pei has suggested that ‘original’ and ‘new’ stock is being given only to Amazon and you cannot buy it from anywhere else in India.

Flipkart, however, has stuck to its guns and plans to sell ‘limited stock’ of the phone this Sunday at 4 PM.

OnePlus 3 is being sold for Rs 18,999 by the portal as part of its Big Shopping Days sale of 2016. The phone, which retails for Rs 27,999 otherwise, comes with a 5.5-inch AMOLED display and Snapdragon 820 chipset with 6 GB of RAM.

The retailer did not clarify how many phones it plans to put up for sale, but it can be expected that over 100 units are likely to be put up.

The statements from Pei and his company raises the question of what happens if something goes wrong with the model after it is purchased under tomorrow’s sale: Who will give warranty support?

Going by Flipkart’s website, there is a 1 year warranty. But what it has not specified is who is going to provide it — OnePlus (unlikely), Flipkart or OmniTechRetail — the seller.

OminTechRetail has 21,754 ratings on the online retail site, out of which 77% are 4 or 5 star and 3,745 are 2 stars or less.

In most cases, Flipkart writes ‘1 Year Manufacturer Warranty’ as in this case, but in case of OnePlus3, it has merely written ‘1 Year on Handset, 6 Months on Accessories’. However, even in case of Lenovo phones, the retailer does use the phrase ‘1 Year on Handset, 6 Months on Accessories’.

FREE MARKETING BUZZ?

Online retailers and handset brands often sell a few number of handsets at throwaway prices to generate publicity and free marketing — much like contests that reward customers with freebies.

Out of the half a dozen Chinese brands that entered India in 2015, OnePlus has been the most consistent in terms of fulfilling customer expectations.

While players like Xiaomi have generated more sales, customer feedback for the brand has wavered. Xiaomi, for example, has got negative customer feedback due to their strategy of creating huge expectations and demand, even though the company’s manufacturing and logistics is unable to keep up.

LeEco, another prominent brand that has seen tremendous success in India, has failed to live up to customer expectations with its Le Max2 phone, which is currently rated at 3.4 stars out of 5 on Amazon. Similarly, Xiaomi’s Mi5 — another direct competitor to OnePlus’ range — has a rating of 3.8 out of 5 on the same website.

In contrast, OnePlus3 is arguably the most highly rated premium phone in India with an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5.0 from 12,746 customers.

OnePlus 3T, which is the Snapdragon 821 version of the device, is even more highly rated at 4.5, though only 85 customers have so far left their feedback on the newly launched model. The phone has the ‘No.1 Best Seller’ tag on Amazon in the Electronics category.

The key reason for OnePlus’ success is that it invests everything — marketing, manufacturing and fulfilment — in just 2 or 3 models per year — unlike players like Xiaomi, which bring out 4 to 7 models per year.

Besides being able to manage customer experience better, the small number of models launched in a year helps the company retain premium positioning for its brand.

Since two out of the three models launched in a year will be targeted at high-end users, OnePlus has gradually built for itself a premium reputation unlike other Chinese brands.

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