Amidst allegations of fraud and under investigation from Enforcement Directorate (ED), Freedom 251 maker Ringing Bells has started to refund its customers pre-order amounts. A formal announcement will be made on Monday 29th February but payment gateway CCAvenue has confirmed the move. Avenues india CEO Vishwas Patel told Economic Times that, “Due to negative publicity in media and scrutiny by the government, the merchant has asked us to refund all transactions. The refunds have already started and will be completed by Monday. They will only use cash on delivery now.”
Refunds are being made to the tune of 84 lakh INR received for 30,000 orders. A total of 25 lakh Freedom 251 smartphones have been ordered and customers will have to pay via cash on delivery. Since its inception, Freedom 251 has been troubled by controversy as politicians from both left and left wing alleged the company of cheating. Experts claimed that a 3G smartphone was impossible to be manufactured below 251 INR. Ringing Bells initially claimed they were getting subsidy from government but government denied any subsidy to the Noida based company.
Couple of weeks back Ringing Bells similarly collected orders for Smart 101, a 4G smartphone for just 2,999 INR and according to sources, amassed amount of 1.75 crore. Payment gateway for Smart 101 PayUbiz confirmed that they are holding on to the mullah and will only release it to company once they receive proof of delivery. Ringing Bells is also having to fight a lawsuit filed by Noida based BPO setup Cyfuture. Cyfuture was the call center that took orders for Freedom 251. Ringing Bells contracted Syfuture and was supposed to pay weekly but refused to pay after the first week. Syfuture is claiming the contract amount and another 80 lakh INR in damages.