Ringing Bells, the company offering what it says is the world's cheapest smartphone, has started refunding customers who paid upfront for the device called Freedom 251 after intense scrutiny of its business model and allegations of fraud. CCAvenue, the payment gateway used by Ringing Bells on its website, told ET that it has started refunds worth Rs 84 lakh for 30,000 transactions made by about 14,800 unique customers. Payment for the smartphone will now be accepted only on delivery for all the 25 lakh bookings the company received.
"Due to negative publicity in media and scrutiny by the government, the merchant has asked us to refund all transactions," said Vishwas Patel, CEO of Avenues India, the parent company of CCAvenue. "The refunds have already started and will be completed by Monday. They will only use cash on delivery now." Congress lawmaker Pramod Tiwari alleged in Parliament that the offer by Ringing Bells was a scam in the making, while similar charges have been made by the BJP's Kirit Somaiya. The com ..