Snapdeal and Hindustan Unilever – A Case Study of Two Customer Service Extremes

When Mumbai based Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy had ordered a Samsung Galaxy Core 2 Duos Smartphone off Snapdeal as a Diwali gift for his wife, little must have he imagined that he would be at the center of one of India’s most hilarious customer service disaster and management incidents. What followed later, was a lesson in how to not carry out customer service and how to (sometimes) carry out customer service, presented by Snapdeal and Hindustan Unilever respectively.

On October 24th, when Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy received the delivery from Snapdeal as per his order, he opened the package expecting to find a Samsung Galaxy Core 2 Duos Smartphone inside. Instead, he found a bar of Vim Soap and a stone scrubber.


Image obtained from Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy’s Facebook post.

An annoyed and frustrated Krishnamurthy took to Facebook to air his woes.

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Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy took to Twitter to voice his anger, especially when Snapdeal’s customer care refused to co-operate.

A few hours, plenty of comments, a Twitter outrage, and thousands of shares later, the man and his woes had gone viral. From the comments, it was evident that Snapdeal wasn’t offering the best of customer care responses in the face of his mess-up.


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A week of online tumult later, Snapdeal had tendered a genuine apology and full refund of the amount paid by Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy.


A week later, Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy posted this on his Facebook profile. Social Media had won.

The goof-up Snapdeal made here was glaring – was a refund enough? Was it that small a mistake on Snapdeal’s part? Moreover, why did it take a viral post for Snapdeal to sit up and take notice of this case? Krishnamurthy was expecting a phone on the auspicious of occasion of Diwali to gift it to his wife. Were they expecting that Krishnamurthy would shop for the phone again from Snapdeal once his money had been refunded? Snapdeal could have easily bundled the phone along-with the refund and delivered it to the customer or just offered to send the phone again instead of a refund. They could have earned plenty of brownie points from Krishnamurthy as well as social media regulars in general. But Snapdeal scrambled away the chance and the brownie got grabbed by someone else; none other than Hindustan Unilever – the manufacturers of Vim.

In a hilarious turn of events, Hindustan Unilever decided to gift Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy the phone he intended to buy for his wife alongside two liquid dishwash packs of the same brand that was at the center of this controversy – Vim.


Image obtained from Laxminarayan Krishnamurthy’s Facebook post.

Hindustan Unilever’s gesture and this entire incident overall, points to a number of significant things. For starters, it reaffirms our faith in the fact that maybe not all corporate organizations are as ruthless and business-minded as we think. Hindustan Unilever showed off its human (and a happy and tender one at that!) side in this incident. Two, Snapdeal’s treatment of customer complaints needs a lot of work. If Snapdeal is aiming at customer satisfaction, then customer care plays a major role in it and they just cannot ignore it this way. Three, an underlying branding trick by Hindustan Unilever. By making sure their side of gesture went viral, they firmly established in the mind of many people, that Vim is a homely and trustworthy brand and that it would not like to be associated with any negative incident whatsoever. And finally, it stresses the importance of social media in the modern society even further. Yes, we have scorned lovers and annoyed parents blaming social media. Yes, there are issues that need to be looked into and tackled, specially criminal ones. But no one can deny how important social media has been in empowering the common man with a simple computer and an internet connection at hand!

Signing off,
Amit Jadhav,


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