Ringing Bells has hit headlines once again, this time for announcing that it plans to refund all the customers who have paid for the Freedom 251 upfront. It’s apparently doing this to combat the negative publicity which has been dogging it ever since it had launched the phone.
Over 30000 people have forked over cash for the Freedom 251 online. Ringing Bells Director Mohit Goel claims the money will be credited back to them via payment gateway companies CCAvenue and PayU Biz by Wednesday. An email will be sent to these consumers after this process, offering them the option of cash on delivery for the handset.
Overall, Ringing Bells has supposedly received over 7 crore registrations for the device. Goel told PTI that deliveries will kick-off in April after which the second round of booking will commence. Explaining his sudden decision to refund customers, he asserts that the brand doesn’t want buyer money initially as it has investors to back the project.
He went on to claim that there is a business model to validate the Rs 251 price of the smartphone, along with a foolproof plan which he chose not to elaborate on. We do have an inkling of what he means by this thanks to an earlier interview with Ringing Bells President Ashok Chaddha. The phone’s cost is the result of a combination of economies of scale, an online sales system and pre-loaded apps.
Refunding customers still reads as a suspicious move by Ringing Bells in spite of assurances of cash on delivery for the Freedom 251. It could be a preemptive measure to deal with the numerous government agencies which have begun investigating the brand’s finances. The list includes the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) and the Income Tax Department.