Update (December 23, 2015): Instead of fixing the error, Flipkart is taking this to a whole new level. The same book is now being sold at a price of Rs 1,000 at a claimed discount of 60%. The MRP on the image of the book is still shown as Rs 150. Surge pricing, Flipkart?

On the heels of the fake discount controversy only a few months ago, Flipkart doesn’t appear to have learnt the lessons it should have in these unforgiving times.

Yesterday was the last day of Flipkart’s much-hyped The Big Billions Days sale and I thought I’d have a look at what all’s on offer before they slip away.

A Ruskin Bond book Great Stories for Children caught my eye, and the discount offered was appealing too. Selling at Rs 102 (on the Flipkart app), Flipkart attempted to lure me by advertising a sizeable 47% off on a claimed MRP of Rs 195.

But when I zoomed on to the image of back cover. What did I see? Printed within the white rectangle – where prices of books are usually mentioned – was Rs 150! A good Rs 45 less than the MRP claimed by Flipkart on its listing.

Flipkart incorrect MRP

A quick calculation tells me that the effective discount was 32% and not 47% as claimed by Flipkart.

The last time, Flipkart blamed its sellers for the incorrect prices on its website stating that the company relied on the sellers for sharing correct information. However, that excuse might not work this time around.

The seller of the book in question – Book Centre – is labelled with the ‘Flipkart Advantage’ badge on the Great Stories for Children product page.

Flipkart Advantage badge

And what does the ‘Flipkart Advantage’ badge signify?

“Flipkart Advantage is our e-commerce fulfilment service for Sellers, where products are sourced from Sellers and we do the rest. That includes checking for quality, stocking, packing and shipment,” explains Flipkart.

Note that quality checking is one of the assurances Flipkart lists in its explanation. Correct pricing should ideally be part of a quality check. Shouldn’t it Flipkart?

It is also noteworthy that Amazon is also selling the same book, but at a much higher price of Rs 176, but they haven’t put up the back cover of the book (I smell a rat here) from which I could cross check the price.

Some may think what matters is the price at which product is sold for and not necessarily the discount offered. But discounts are often what lure people in and an incorrect MRP also gives a false sense of value of the product. If you are advertising an incorrect MRP, you are trying to cheat the consumerM

Many of the online shopping sites – Flipkart included – during sale seasons follow the tried-and-tested practice of highlighting discounts against the MRP and not the usual selling price (that in many cases is much lower than the MRP). Therefore the actual saving a buyer makes during the sale season is in fact lower than what she/he is made to believe.