21st Mar 2013
That the government has hiked import duty on mobile phones by 5% at the annual Union Budget is old news. That being said, it's common knowledge that the terms of the budget will come into play only at the start of the financial year (1st April 2013), and that too if it is passed in the parliament. With the deadline yet to arrive, we can see phone sellers already hiking up the price tag under the pretext of duty hike. Even if the provisions come into effect immediately, it shouldn't affect the current stock which is up for sale, since it is has been clearly imported well before the duty structure changed.
The most obvious hike comes from Micromax, who did quite a good job marketing the Canvas HD handset. Announced on the 14th February, the attractively priced Micromax A116 Canvas HD flew off the shelves of online retailers as soon as it became available. With huge number of phones already being booked for sale, Micromax is trying its best to clear out the backlog, as NDTV reports. Although the company spokesperson gives a 22nd March deadline for shipping these handsets, there is a silverlining for those who choose to pre-order. Apart from throwing in a carry case worth Rs 700, Micromax will sell the phone to these patient buyers at its original price of Rs 14,000.
But for those who plan to pick it up later, or from a brick-and-motar shop instead, get ready to shell out a bit more. On Snapdeal.com's Facebook page, Micromax has specified that prices for the handset have been revised, and it will now be dearer by 1.5 grand. Whether Micromax indeed faced procedural issues, component shortage, or is being a plain opportunist, we'd never know. But it is quite obvious that Micromax will get the buyer's benefit of doubt if it starts retailing its most-hyped handset at a higher price point after 1st April.
That being said, this assumption also seems farfetched. A day after the budget was announced, I enquired the cost of a Nokia Lumia 920 at a local mobile phone retail outlet. Within a day of the budget announcement the handset, which was retailing online at around Rs 35,500, was being sold at Rs 38,500. When enquiring about the sudden steep hike in price, the manager quoted the reason being a 6% import duty hike in the recently announced budget. On further probing about the skewed reasoning, the shopkeeper admitted that most dealers take advantage of the naivety and half-knowledge of the modern consumers. If you plan to take your purchase online instead, the same handset it now pegged at around Rs 37,600. As far as the revised rates doesn't exceed the listed MRP of the handset, such price revision, on the face of it, will always be at the seller's discretion. However, backing it with an excuse like that is flimsy, for the want of a better word.
So if you are looking to a buy a phone till the end of this month, and if the seller asks for a higher price citing the hike in import duties, show him the calendar along with a quick lesson in Indian Economics. If you have already fallen prey to this opportunistic pricing strategy, don't blame the Finance Minister. Not for the next 10 days, at least.
Don't Blame The Finance Minister For Your Folly
Don't let mobile phone dealers fleece you under the pretext of import duty hike in the annual budget.
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