Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Price comparison websites in India - Do you trust them?

I would like to share my story with you guys and let you find the answer to the question in the title of this post.

I started shopping online in India in 2013 after being enticed by newspaper ads of couple of online Indian Shopping Websites. I ordered products with them and found that I got good bargains as compared to the what was offered by local vendors in my city. Wow!

Then after a few purchases here and there, I stumbled upon other websites too where I could find same product a bit cheaper than those mentioned in newspaper ads. So I changed the way I used to shop. I first did search on all the shops for the desired product and noticed which website is showing lowest price and started ordering the products where it was cheapest. Yeah Genius!

I was so excited by this method that I shared this with my other friends. Well, that is not the end of the story. The story begins when a friend of mine (who is popular as web guru among us), told me that there was a better way. Instead of hoping from one shopping website to another to check the prices, I could surf where they list prices from almost all the shopping websites. That means, just one or two pages to surf and I could find out cheapest price, which is indeed better way than my method.

Yeah!  that was an AWESOME idea for a naive like I was. I gave it a try and saw that there were even cheaper sellers available than those big shopping websites I used to buy from ie. snapdeal, flipkart, amazon etc. Some never heard before sellers were displayed with amazingly lower prices.

So, I placed an order and after 7 days of non-delivery,  I contacted the seller. The seller replied it would take a month or so to make the delivery due to some reasons. They asked me if I wanted to cancel the order. The voice on the other end was so soft and mushy I didn't feel like cancelling the order. After a month passed, they cancelled my order saying out of stock and gave me the full refund  SO HONEST WOW!
(There is a WOW in my last sentence --- because, being an Indian, if you get refund from a online seller without much headache, it is like winning a Jack Pot in Las Vegas. We Indians are still several years backward to western countries when it comes to online shopping or perhaps regular shopping. eh? Customer Satisfaction is a term rarely heard by Indian sellers, as far my experience goes.)

Anyways, I got smarter and now I had this tool THE PRICE COMPARISON SITE. So I tried a few such price comparison websites in online Indian market. The same story got repeated several times. ie. either the order got cancelled/delayed or the goods sent to me wasn't what I ordered.

After a lot of bad experiences and only a few extraneously joyous transactions, this sunday morning I sat and relaxed and was thinking about how to make my good shopping experiences better in numbers.

And suddenly an idea sparked into nerves of my brain .... IS IT A SCAM?

Most of the times they take my orders and make delayed delivery or it ends up in finally cancelling or returning the order. What was happening here?

I came to this conclusion:
1. They were anticipating the prices would go down before the buyer finally concludes to cancel the order.

2. They were smart enough to stop me purchasing the product from other site and SECURED their margins by making a promise which was totally based on their speculation of prices. SMART GUYS No?

3. They were just trying to create a crowd of people by showing extremely low prices.  So a buyer once visits their site would never want to visit other main stream shopping websites directly. Instead he would seek that price comparison site prior to making any purchase decisions. Like I was enticed!

Guys, you may find me wrong on this conclusion because these price comparison websites guys are very good at mixing FAKE and REAL things together. So sometimes you may get good deals like I did and you may return to leave a comment, having some abusive words, to honor my wit. But if you are a consistent online shopper like I am, you would notice that most of your orders get turned down. Or if you are lucky like I was,  you wold notice the same story in your very first order :D ha ha ha

Well, that was not all I meant to share here. I have a solution to this problem:

There is a much better way to do the price comparison. Go to each site, note down not only the price but also read the sellers rating and reviews. WOW! you already knew this :D ha ha ha

GREAT! So if you are so smart then you would also know that,  a lot of cheap labors from poor countries like Malaysia, Nepal etc. is available to write good reviews and rating for the sellers. No?

So which ratings or reviews are to trust?

Look for the numbers of reviews and ratings... the more the number is, the more are the chances of that seller being trustworthy. Please notice I said "Chances of being trustworthy". There is no guarantee either.

Happy Shopping Online. in India ha ha ha
PS: Please share your comments and let me know about your experiences too or suggest me if you have better way of getting good deals online besides