Kolkata: Brick-and-mortar mobile phone retailers across the country have decided to boycott business with Samsung for three days next week, with the Korean giant not withdrawing the consumer promotion with Amazon Pay, Amazon’s digital payment service.
In a Whatsapp message sent by the offline cellphone retailer lobby, All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA), to the trade on Friday evening said retailers will boycott “Samsung business for three (11,12 & 13th February) days. We will be showing our protest through digital posts, covering Samsung branding with a black cloth on in our stores, and not doing business with Samsung DB for three days.”
AIMRA represents neighborhood cellphone stores across the country.
Offline trade lobby, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) secretary general Praveen Khandelwal tweeted late on Friday evening: “Beware @SamsungIndia . Stop exclusivity and cancel your tie up with Amazon pay. 7 crore traders @TEAMCAIT stands in solidarity with @AimraIndia and will not allow any company to exploit India’s mobile retailers.”
Samsung India did not respond to ET’s queries till filing of this story.
The Whatsapp message from AIMRA said the body has been asking Samsung “to stop unfair and unethical tie-ups with online portals.”
“Such activities have caused great damage to us but the brand does not seem to be interested in working with offline traders. This is the only reason why they are the only brand with M Series exclusive tie up and now to grab our customers they have also tied up for a cash back offer through Amazon Pay. We all have been vehemently opposing this move but Samsung is adamant and underestimating the #PowerOfOffline,” the message said.
AIMRA wrote that it had made many attempts to meet Samsung India country heads in the last five years, but it never transpired. The country head also did not respond to its emails, it said. The association had called a national meet on Friday to discuss on the issue.
This comes at a time when the competition watchdog is investigating the business practices of ecommerce marketplaces and the exclusive arrangements that smartphone brands have with them.
On February 1, AIMRA had sent a letter to Samsung India’s newly appointed managing director, Ken Kang.
The letter said that to avail of Samsung’s latest cashback promotion, consumers will have to download the Amazon app and pay through Amazon Pay, which would eventually hurt the offline business as consumers would get hooked to ecommerce shopping.
AIMRA said that offline retailers, by default, will get registered as Amazon sellers in the marketplace when they sign up for Amazon Pay as a business entity to receive payment for the handsets sold.
“Why is Samsung influencing and diverting our customers to the Amazon portal? This is a clear conspiracy to grab our customers and kill our business permanently,” said the letter
Samsung has rolled out 5% and Rs 1,500 cashback offers, depending on the phone models, when payment is done through Amazon Pay.
AIMRA’s February 1 letter said, “Samsung has indulged in another unfair and unethical agreement with Amazon to burn money by forcefully registering mobile phone retailers on Amazon Pay, which helps Amazon to prove to the government, department for promotion of industry and internal trade and CCI that mobile retailers are doing increased business, paying DBD and are the ones giving discount to customers.”
DBD, or dealer buy down, is an arrangement whereby retailers have to bear 1.77% of the cashback amount as per the Samsung promotion, which AIMRA termed as “exploitation” of retailers.
The association has alleged that Samsung’s employees and distributors are forcing retailers to register as Amazon sellers for Amazon Pay and threatening to stop supplies if they fail to register.