Ringing Bells has been courting controversy ever since it unveiled its US$4 smartphone
India-based smartphone manufacturer Ringing Bells is being investigated by the police. The offence: misleading the public about its US$4 Freedom 251 smartphone.
According to a report by Gadgets 360, Kirit Somaiya, leader of India’s leading political party Bharatiya Janata Party filed a formal complaint against Ringing Bells.
He accused the manufacturer of violating Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the IT Act–or being dishonest with its product claims.
Somaiya alleged that it is impossible for a smartphone manufacturer to price a phone at Rs. 251 (US$4) without carrier subsidies. In February, he described Freedom 251 as a ponzi scheme.
Touted as the cheapest smartphone ever released, Freedom 251 has courted controversy ever since its launch.
First, it was shipped without a logo. Upon closer inspection, it was revealed to be an Adcom Ikon 4 phone (which retails at US$60). The original logo—Adcom—was actually covered with an office whitener (with a phone this cheap, you probably can’t afford a proper sanding process).
In a statement by Sanjeev Bhatia, Founder and Chairman of Advantage Computers (Adcom) earlier this month, he said that he sold the phones to Ringing Bells at Rs. 3,600 (US$54) each, and had no knowledge its plans to repackage and resell them.
“We are deeply grieved by this incident where our mobile phone has been presented to masses for Rs. 251, and therefore, would not hesitate from taking any legal actions against the company, in case the entire fiasco impacts Adcom’s brand name or subsequently we face any other kind of losses. We would also like to assert that Adcom is in no way connected or linked with Ringing Bells or Freedom 251 and bears no responsibility what so ever, in the whole swindle and regret the inconvenience caused to our valued customers from all over the country, ” he said.
President of Ringing Bells, Ashok Chadha, fended off accusations of fraud, saying Adcom’s phones were used for its body and touch panel, and only contained original interior components.
Yet, despite his defense, Ringing Bells promised to refund the initial phase’s 30,000 customers.
Also, while the Freedom 251 runs on a Android 5.1 build, its layout and app design are basically carbon copies of the iOS.
With the authorities swooping in, and a mounting evidence of deception, Freedom 251 has little legal room to wiggle.
But Managing Director of Ringing Bells Mohit Goel remains convicted of his company’s innocence.
“In Freedom 251, as presented to several authorities and agencies, and explained at our various forums, we are able to price our product at lower than production cost due to innovative e-commerce cross promotions and we will complete delivery of the quantities as committed by June 30, 2016.”
Bottomline: If it sounds too good to be true, take a pass on it.
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