In another controversial turn of events in the Freedom 251 saga, Ringing Bells has been accused of "fraud" and non-payment of dues by its customer service provider - a charge refuted by the smartphone company.
Ringing Bells has on the other hand accused the BPO company, Cyfuture, of having failed in handling the huge traffic of customer calls.
Cyfuture Founder and CEO Anuj Bairathi said, "We were always sceptical of Ringing Bells and their business model. After several rounds of discussions with their management team and when they showed us names of senior politicians visiting their launch event, we decided to take up their project."
The first few days after the phone was unveiled, the call-centre number received lakhs of calls which were attended and promptly responded to and even Ringing Bells was happy with our services, he said.
"However, when we started asking for our payments, which were to be made to us on a weekly basis, they started making false allegations and abruptly decided to terminate our services citing unsatisfactory services... This is a clear case of cheating, fraud and breach of contract. As per the contract, Ringing Bells had specifically assured us of a minimum lock-in period of one year and no termination before a year," Bairathi told PTI.
Refuting the charges, Ringing Bells said people approaching helpdesk were unable to connect and the company directly received thousands of complaints from customers in this regard.
"We had outsourced this job to Cyfuture BPO. Telecom companies confirmed that the helpline was receiving a volume of approximately 1.2 lakh million per hour. It came to our knowledge that the BPO company was not able to handle the traffic. We are looking into the situation to serve our customers better," Ringing Bells President Ashok Chaddha said.
Bairathi said as per their agreement, in the event of termination due to unsatisfactory services, Ringing Bells was to provide a 30 day notice-period and make all pending payments.
"They are also not taking our calls. We plan to take all necessary legal recourse including filing a police complaint to fight our case. We have started talking with police and file case by tomorrow. There will be ruckus at our company if we lay off 100 employees hired for Ringing Bells project," Bairathi said.
Bairathi said that 100 people were hired in short span for three days who handled hundreds of thousands of calls for the Freedom 251 smartphones.
Noida-based Ringing Bells unveiled a 3G smartphone at Rs. 251, taking by surprise industry players who raised questions over the possibility of such phone at the promised price.
An equivalent model of the phone is available in market for about Rs. 3000 - Rs. 4,000.
However, the company received a huge response from customers on the first day of opening of registration for the promised smartphone leading to crash of its website.
The company claims to have received bookings from about 30,000 people and over registration by 70 million people. The Telecom Ministry is also keeping a close watch over the development with Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad saying that the company would face action if it fails to deliver the promised smartphone.
The online payment service provider of the Ringing Bells, PayU Biz, has kept money in an escrow account and will release it to the company after its ships the Rs. 251 smartphone.