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Flipkart’s recently introduced Smart Upgrade System seems to give a glitch just when the features that make it attractive should kick in. 

In the Smart Upgrade System, a customer can acquire a mobile phone paying two/thirds of the original price. He or she can use it for a year after which she can decide to keep it by paying the rest of the original sale price. Or she returns the phone, gets a refund to her account, and uses it to purchase another phone. 

This system, as announced, has been remarkably attractive. This means mobile users who want the latest features can keep pace with the upgrades and not be saddled with a phone with outdated features. The seller leverages the used phone market to keep customers happy while making money. Flipkart gets a Rs 100 fee it charges for the scheme. A win-win situation, indeed. 

But what if the used mobile phone price is not fetching much in the market when it is due for return and upgrade? Will Flipkart make the seller keep its word? I recently found that Flipkart doesn’t.

Mobile users who want the latest features can keep pace with the upgrades and not be saddled with a phone with outdated features. The seller leverages the used phone market to keep customers happy while making money

I bought a phone nearly a year back paying some Rs 14,000 out of the Rs 20,000 discounted sale price. Just before 12 months could pass, I went to the Flipkart portal to apply for an upgrade and the portal responded mysteriously with an error message. This happened repeatedly, from various computers and many cities and IP addresses. 

I complained to Flipkart and they said there was a technical issue. Here’s what they said: “We are sorry for the trouble. This is not what you expected. Please send snapshot while doing payment.” Flipkart did extend the deadline for upgrade but even as the extension was on, my phone got locked out. I was suddenly plunged into darkness in broad daylight. 

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The smart phone is my world just as it is for anyone else in today’s world. And I started panicking. My bank accounts, credit card and debit info, my favourite apps that I use for work, and my personal confidential information became inaccessible in an instant. I was suddenly cut off, thrown into the dark ages. 

I was angry at Flipkart, too. I checked out the price of my used mobile phone on various sites such as cashify. The price was around Rs 11,000. So it wasn’t worthwhile for Flipkart to have the seller buy back my phone at Rs 14,000? 

The smart phone is my world just as it is for anyone else in today’s world. And I started panicking. My bank accounts, credit card and debit info, my favourite apps that I use for work, and my personal confidential information became inaccessible in an instant

But by now I had been beaten down to submission. I thought it was better to surrender to Flipkart and return to normal life. I opted to pay up the remaining Rs 6,000 and keep my phone. But, more mysteriously, that option wasn’t working either. And the same error message was popping up. After several more email complaints, I was finally able to make the payment. 

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Was the entire Smart Upgrade System not working? Or was this some ruse to provide the cover of general system glitch to walk away from contractual obligations? 

I was not alone in my predicament. Consumercomplaints.com was filled with folks like me undergoing the same ordeal. 

When my phone got unblocked, I got my peace back, but was left with a feeling that I was cheated.


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