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Chinese mobile maker prefers online stores, unfair trade practice, AIMRA

A body of cell phone retailers has accused Chinese smartphone maker Oppo of indulging in “unfair trade practice by restricting a product” to online platforms and “not honouring its commitment of proper distribution support” to physical outlets, an official said on Sunday.

The Chinese mobile maker, however, blamed a global chip shortage for being unable to push sales through brick-and-mortar retail stores.

All India Mobile Retailers’ Association alleged that manufacturers of handsets are “not providing a level playing field” for their members and planned to launch nationwide protests against “biased trade” practices.

“Restricting a product from the mainline retail fraternity establishes an unfair and biased trade practice with a tremendous threat of impacting the nation’s economy unfavourably,” the association wrote to OPPO India president Elvis Zhou.

AIMRA represents 1.5 lakh retailers across the country.

“Despite your commitment, we have learnt that the supply has been kept exclusive to the ‘online retail market only’, which the mainline retail industry takes as an outright violation of trust and words,” AIMRA national president Arvinder Singh Khurana said in the letter.

The smartphone maker’s head (modern trade and KA) Nitin Singh, however, said Oppo India is committed to its mainline retailers and trying to resolve the supply issues arising out of the global situation of chipset and raw material shortage.

The supply will improve by the end of April, Singh said.

“We are committed to our mainline partners and retailers and doing our best to resolve the supply issue arising due to global situation of chipset and raw material shortage which impacted the supply of K10 in the mainline market.

“We will supply the K series stock to our mainline club partners and retailers. Our current new product F21 is available in the Indian market and the customer response has been very positive,” he told PTI.

If the Chinese smartphone maker “fails to practice a fair level of playing field”, the retailers’ body will launch a nationwide protest and hunger strike, Khurana said.

AIMRA had sought the government’s intervention for regulatory support to overcome the challenge.

“Today, we are present in every nook and cranny of the country and capable of extending our services to each customer nationwide. The mainline retail industry can proudly assure you of providing better services to customers than online platforms,” the retailers’ body said.

Singh said the mobile phone maker is looking forward to retailers’ continuous support to provide better products and services to its customers in India. PTI

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