The Sordid Saga Of My Pebble Watch: India Buyers, Beware!

This post is a warning for all of India’s Kickstarter shoppers. Especially the ones who have ordered, or are thinking of ordering, a Pebble watch.

In a nutshell, think twice.

This is my story.

The world's best smart watch is a challenge to obtain in India.

The world’s best smart watch is a challenge to obtain in India.

I ordered my Pebble (cherry red, absolutely stunning) in January 2013, paying $150 as a pre-order price.  It shipped in June and reached me a few weeks later, despite no intimation from the Antop Hill Post Office (the villain in this saga). I’ll never forget excitedly paying the Customs duty (some Rs. 3,300) and opening the package…only to discover that the piece was defective.

Pebble were good enough to issue a replacement that shipped about 45 days later, after they’d verified the defect. A large part of the delay could be attributed to slow customer service on their part. But, anyhoo…

In September, I received an intimation from the Antop Hill PO. And was surprised to notice that I’d been billed Rs. 4,708 as Customs duty, despite the piece being specified as a replacement, with an order value of $0. Nevertheless, I traipsed on over to the PO. Where I was informed that the only way to dispute the duty levied was to return the item for reassessment to the Foreign Post Office, Bombay.

I applied dutifully for a reassessment. And waited. Two weeks passed. No news.

My wife then visited the Foreign Post Office. And figured that the watch had never reached them for reassessment. Even if it did, there was no way the duty would be reduced. I gulped, and decided to swallow it, greedy geek that I am. I wrote another letter, asking for the reassessment order to be cancelled and the item to be returned to Antop Hill.

Again, no word for two weeks. Then I logged on to India Post’s online tracking site, and discovered that the watch had been shipped to Anna Hill HPO, Chennai!

Alarm bells rang. A couple of frantic days later, I got through to the Foreign Post Office, and was invited to meet a Mr. Dhone. Who told me that Antop Hill had screwed up and sent the watch to Chennai. And that it had returned, with a weight discrepancy of some 60 grams.

I wasn’t allowed to inspect the package. Mr. Dhone was otherwise extremely helpful. He introduced me to the Assistant Superintendent of Foreign Post, Ms. Padmaja Kamat. Both of them advised me to take an open delivery at the Antop Hill PO, and then lodge a complaint if the watch was missing.

My case seemed to have opened up some deeply-buried wounds. As I was leaving, one Foreign Post employee remarked to me:

Sir, don’t ever get an overseas parcel shipped through India Post again. I should not be saying this, but the quality of service is no longer what it used to be.

One honest, brave, cooperative employee.

I visited Antop Hill PO again. And requested for an open delivery. And was rudely shot down by the Postman-in-Charge of Parcel Collections, on the 1st floor. Despite repeated requests to the PRI, a Mr. Jadhav, they were unmoved. Going to the extent of pinning the blame on the Foreign Post Office, washing their hands of all responsibility.

I had no choice but to cough up the duty. I requested both officers to stay while I opened the parcel. Then the Postman-in-Charge delivered the coup de grace.

This has no meaning to me. I will not see anything. I will not sign anything. I will not be a witness if there is an inquiry later.

The PRI, Mr. Jadhav, ran away as soon I started counting out the money.

Sure enough, the sealed parcel was devoid of the watch. I showed it to the Postman-in-Charge. And he actually had the audacity to look up into space and pretend not to see anything.

I will not see anything. I cannot see anything. I will not bear witness.

Today, I filed complaints against the Antop Hill PO. Copied to the Director and Assistant Superintendent of Foreign Post, the Postmaster General and the Superintendent at the Dadar Area Head Post Office.

There are two villains in this saga. The main one being the Antop Hill PO. Below is the evidence.

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The other villain, to me, is Pebble.

When I wrote to them about the excess duty, they told me that the duty was the onus of the importer. Fair enough. But in that case, the safe delivery of the parcel should be the company’s responsibility. Then why, oh why, would they continue to ship through the corrupt, inefficient maze of pathetic bureaucracy that is India Post?

They do this knowing full well that there have been plenty of complaints. About lost parcels. Excess duty. Bribery. And more. Google “Pebble in India” and this is what will show up. And this is on Pebble’s own forums.

By now they should’ve realised that FedEx is a better alternative. And that most buyers will gladly pay shipping fees to ensure they get their goodies.

Hey Pebble, a little online listening will go a long way. And if you need some help, drop me an email, me and my digital agency will be glad to set it up for ya.

I don’t want a Pebble any more. I just want the refund. I just want to put this behind me.

As far as I see it, Pebble owes me $150. And India Post owes me Rs. 4,708, plus at least Rs. 20,000 in compensation for the anguish they’ve inflicted. We’ll see where this battle goes.

A better idea for my fellow Indian Pebblers who still want the watch would be to have it shipped to a friend abroad, who can then bring or send it over.

An even better idea would be to leave this goddamn country for better shores, and buy your Pebble there.

Update: Pebble has refunded the money I spent on the watch, without any questions asked, and with some really good customer service thrown in. However, India Post is yet to respond to my complaint. I doubt very much that I will hear from them in this lifetime.

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8 thoughts on “The Sordid Saga Of My Pebble Watch: India Buyers, Beware!

  1. That is shitty! I remember my anguish from the time my Pebble was shipped to the time I received it (a time period of about 45 days, atleast) And we all know when Indian Post is involved, how long these 45 days would have seemed! My condolences man!

  2. I bought the pebble from the website and received it in time, the delivery came thru DHL and I was required to pay a duty of 3300 Rs. It took me an entire week to set up the damn thing and repeated mails to pebble came up with no results. The only good thing is that you look for troubleshooting options from various forums online, thats what I did and it works perfectly now.

    My Girlfriend hates it though for it looks very geek, I would now like to sell it rather than hear her constant nagging.

    If anybody wants it I have it in Red, you can either collect it and pay cash or I can courier it you via a reliable courier.

    I stay in Gurgaon, my phone number is 9871699996 and email is : kamalkumar4575@gmail.com

    Asking price 10,000 Rs .

  3. I bought the pebble from the website and received it in time, the delivery came thru DHL and I was required to pay a duty of Rs 3900/-. I placed order on 20th of November, 2013 and the watch was delivered on 25th of November, 2013, which was really fast. The breakup of duties charged for Chembur, Mumbai address are: Basic Customs duty – Rs 1161/-, Countervailing duty – Rs 1533/-, Octroi charges 791/-, Education cess – Rs 80/-, Handling fee – Rs 350/- , Service tax and cess- Rs 43/-.

    When I asked DHL to provide me the receipts for the Customs duty and Octroi charges, they refused. A good suggestion for fellow Mumbai pebblers would be to get it at the Mira road or Dombivili address of some friend to SAVE Rs 800/- approximately on octroi charges, which I am sure these courier companies don’t deposit.

  4. @Samit -really sad to hear your story. Its indeed painful.
    @Anupam – Generally DHL provides a copy challan of duties and taxes paid on your behalf. Don’t really know why they refused in your case – a big company like DHL would never collect money from you and then not deposit it with government (atleast I feel so). Anyways to save myself from all the trouble of going through DHL and Indian post I opted to buy it online from a company selling it locally. They are selling it at Rs. 14499 and offer a replacement warranty for Pebbles received defective out of the box. When asked why is it priced at Rs. 14999 when Pebble itself is selling it at USD 150 their explanation was this “Our price is inclusive of all local duties and taxes namely, custom duty, countervailing duty, sales tax, octroi, express shipping and other levies and cesses”. By paying a small price I got piece of mind and a brand new Orange Pebble watch in 3 days flat. highly recommend.

  5. If ordering anything from out of india , dont opt for free shipping . we all know the service of INDIA POST. instead always pay up for DHL or some other private service which will at least claim responsibility of enroute problems.

    I have just orded the peebles 2 days back.. i received the email fro peeble with the DHL tracking number as i had opted for DHL shipping.. Lets hope all goes well and i have the new gadget for the new year.

    Didnt know they were selling it in india, else i would have bought it here itself.

    • Thanks for the advice, Rohit. I tried to lodge a protest online, but – as with everything else this government does – the form is broken. I’ve filed a written complaint and received an acknowledgement. The matter is under investigation. Will update this post once (if) it is ever resolved.

  6. @ Samit and @ Everyone else – Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I was about to go and place an order for Pebble and thankfully I found your post. No Pebble for me now!

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