Indian e-commerce Flipkart ran into a glitch last month that supposedly affected most of its partnered sellers. The company says it has since rectified the mistake.
The revelation of what Flipkart calls a "one-off" error came after online seller group All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) issued a notice to all its members this week. In the notice, AIOVA said that Flipkart overcharged its sellers for incorrect weighing during the period between June 20 to June 28 last month.
The problem occurred at one of the stages during the shipping process. When a customer places an order for an item, Flipkart informs the seller, who is responsible for packaging and handing over the articles to Flipkart's courier partner. The courier partner calculates the actual weight and volumetric weight of the article, and charges the seller accordingly.
In this instance, thanks to what Flipkart calls an error in the system, sellers were charged higher amounts than usual.
"As a result of this, packets of 500 grams are being incorrect recorded in higher slabs like 15kg, 35kg etc at random instances," the group wrote in the letter, adding, the "technical fault" resulted in "higher charge of forward shipping and reverse shipping."
The additional charge was in the scale of "20-30 percentage of the gross merchandise value of the product," a spokesperson of AIOVA told Gadgets 360.
The spokesperson added that "100 percent sellers were impacted," adding that the notice was issued to make sellers aware of the matter. Most sellers weren't aware of overcharging, the person said.
In a statement to Gadgets 360, Flipkart acknowledged the fault, and said a recent system upgrade was at the fault. "A recent system upgrade had inadvertently caused a one-off error in the way we calculate shipping costs for sellers," the spokesperson said.
The company said it "promptly corrected the issue upon discovery" and informed the sellers, but did not elaborate. The refund procedure has already been completed, it said.
Even as Flipkart calls it a "one-off" error, the AIOVA representative said that several such incidents have occurred in the past. The problem, the person said, is that there is no authority in place to keep a track on Flipkart's activities. "They get away with it all the time," the person added.