New Delhi: Facing an FIR and defamation suit amid deepening mystery and now senior government officials raising serious questions over “Freedom 251” smartphone, its makers on Friday announced “cash on delivery” (COD) facility for those who have placed the order for the world’s cheapest smartphone.
In a statement released here, Ringing Bells president Ashok Chadha announced that the Rs 251 (less than $4) “Freedom 251” smartphone customers will now be required to make payment only when the smartphone is delivered to them.
“The company has decided that we will, henceforth, offer ‘cash on delivery’ mode of payments for those who have placed an order for the ‘Freedom 251’ smartphone. This will ensure further transparency and clear any misgivings,” Chadha added.
The company plans to give 25 lakh handsets in the first phase before June 30.
It received 30,000 orders on the first day and rest of the customers will be selected via first-come-first-serve basis as it received a mammoth over seven crore registrations.
“The rider that there will be one smartphone per unique customer ID is to ensure that the phone reaches all individuals,” he added.
Earlier on Friday, Congress MP Pramod Tiwari said the scheme of giving smartphones at Rs 251 was the “biggest scam of the millennium” during the BJP regime.
He demanded the money which had been received by the company should be kept secure.
Tiwari said in the Rajya Sabha that the government needs to clear the facts about the “fraudulent ‘Freedom 251’ phones”.
The Noida-based startup claimed to have tied up with the payment gateway provider PayUbiz so that it receives payment only on the submission of proof of delivery (POD) to the payment gateway.
“The company’s decision to switch to the ‘cash on delivery’ payment method further obviates any doubts expressed by any quarter regarding the transparency of the company,” Chadha pointed out.
Reacting to allegations that Ringing Bells has nothing to do with “Make in India” or “Digital India” initiatives, the official said the firm has clearly developed its business plan in sync with the government initiatives to promote those plans, including the “Startup India” initiative.
“Our humble beginning to provide a high-tech gadget that will benefit all in the hinterlands and bridge the huge gap that clearly exists between the metros and semi-urban/rural areas is in keeping with the government’s initiatives,” Chadha pointed out.
On the preparedness of Ringing Bells as to whether it can provide a phone for Rs.251 or not or whether it will have the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) certificate, he assured that there will be no breach of trust.
Earlier in the day, set to file an FIR against Ringing Bells, another Noida-based data centre and BPO Cyfuture, met a senior police official and was deliberating on filing a defamation suit too.
Taking the world by surprise, Ringing Bells launched “Freedom 251” smartphone that, it said, has been developed “with immense support” from the government.
As the makers of the smartphone went gaga over being part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” and “Digital India” initiatives in last few days, a top government official clarified on Thursday that the government has nothing to do with “Freedom 251” smartphone.
“This is not a government project. ‘Make in India’ team has nothing to do with this,” wrote Amitabh Kant, secretary of department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), in a Twitter post.