Chinese manufacturers and the sad state of after-sales support

Recently, India has seen a handful (and more) of companies entering the consumer electronics market. It does not take a genius to guess that most of them are from China. This has led to healthy competition in the sector, which is a good thing from the end consumer's perspective. This has also resulted in price and specification wars, which has ultimately led to possible scams like Freedom 251, Docoss and Namotel. Whether they are all fraud, or whether such wars are right or not, is not the topic I want to talk about here. It is a different discussion altogether, which we might (hopefully) cover in a separate blog post. This post is about how an increased inflow of manufacturers, and thus many options to choose from, has made the industry more like a sell-and-forget scheme. Make a product with best-in-class hardware, promote it like there's no tomorrow, use tactics like flash sales to create artificial demand, make or break records, rinse and repeat. Where is the after-sales support in this cycle? That's the question I want to ask.

Chinese manufacturers and the sad state of after-sales support

I am not saying that there is no customer support at all. In this world of social media, saying that will be outright wrong. However, is it satisfying enough? I do not think so.

I have one story to share. It concerns Xiaomi. One of our writers, Gaurav, joined their victim list a few days ago. He had many expectations from Xiaomi Redmi Note 3. So, he decided to gift one to his father. However, there was one hurdle, the flash sale model. He got five people (including himself) to try on his behalf. He got one in the first sale itself. Bingo. Add to it the one-day delivery. All was good. However, this was only the beginning of disappointments that followed.

His father, who is a doctor by profession, was a feature phone user. He was delighted about his first smartphone. Given his field of work, he is used to getting 30+ calls in a day. To his surprise, after switching both the SIMs to the new device, he did not receive a single call (of course he did not know the reason then). Later, people complained about his phone being switched off all this time. Only, it was not. This was when Gaurav tried calling the numbers himself just to see if anything was out of order. To his disappointment, even he was treated with the annoying switched-off message.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, he decided to update the software, hoping to solve the glitch. Nothing. He also switched SIM cards just in case. All in vain. After some trial and error, the conclusion reached was that if the screen is on, everything works perfectly. However, as and when the screen turned off, no calls went through!

To get it rectified, he visited the authorized service center in Gurugram. On his first visit, the executive advised him to use 4G to avoid such issues. Either he was not aware of the 4G coverage across the country or he was joking. Later he suggested to factory reset and re-update the software. Although this was already tried, he decided to go with the flow. Needless to mention, this did not work out.

On the second visit, the support executive blamed Vodafone 4G. After trying with an Airtel SIM in his presence, he agreed to the device having a hardware fault. When collecting the phone after repair, Gaurav was informed that it was, in fact, a software glitch that they have now fixed. Happy with the closure, he went home. However, the same started again later in the day. So much for customer support!

The experience at the final visit to the service center was horrible. The executives were not ready to accept the fault. According to them, they had done what they could. Gaurav had to threaten them about exposing their stand via a blog post. This was when they accepted the faulty handset and finally replaced the motherboard. Not just that, they admitted that it was, in fact, the motherboard that they had replaced. From that point onwards, the device is running fine.

Xiaomi is known as the Apple of China. Is it because of their products? Maybe. Is it because of their after-sales support? I do not think so, even though I wish it were true. If you have ever been in the Apple ecosystem, you would be familiar with the way they treat their customers.

This might be a story of one OEM but is not limited to them. This is the case with most of the Chinese manufacturers operating in India. I wish they learn a lesson from this incident and realize the need to invest more in customer support. After all, a company exists because the client exists.

Do you have any such bitter stories to share? Write them down in the comments, and help fellow humans make an informed decision next time they are out shopping.

P.S.: This story is written with inputs from Gaurav Gupta.


  1. There are other Xiaomi products too...that are not serviced at all, after warranty is over. Which is horrible. as you just cant throw away your devices !!!

  2. Buy Apple products 😃

  3. Yes, that is a solution.
    Anyway, the refurbished ones are coming soon ;)

  4. Refurbished Apple phones are already here.the replacement phones are all refurbished I guess.

  5. Yeah, but at least they aren't selling them as of now!