Mercedes Benz was the latest campaign of Dhamakashopping. The e-commerce platform offered a 30% discount on the luxurious car.
Offering high discounts on luxury products simply appears to be a trick of Dhamakashopping to collect advance payments by alluring customers, as the online store, it is alleged, barely delivers those items or refunds the customers.
Using this ploy, the newcomer e-commerce firm – that has grown fast gaining credibility among customers by advertising its campaigns with top circulated newspapers in the country – has reportedly accumulated a huge sum of money from online shoppers.
For instance, in April this year Dhamaka offered a double-door refrigerator model of Singer brand at Tk45,000 while its original price was Tk85,000 and collected advance payments from customers.
The online shop, however, did not deliver even a single piece of the product in three months till June.
This correspondent also faced a bitter experience after placing an order on 9 May for a fridge. When Dhamaka was contacted for the product on 23 June, its chief operating officer Sirajul Islam Rana said they were yet to start the delivery of the product.
He further said the product delivery would be late and uncertain. He offered a refund, but the refund also was delayed. Finally, on 16 July, this correspondent received the refund through mobile financial service bKash after issuing a threat that a police case would be filed if Dhamaka fails to send back the money by that day.
When Dhamaka could not deliver products of its previous campaign, it started another campaign with Mercedes Benz offering 30% discount with a promise to deliver the product within 60 days.
The online shop advertised this campaign with some top rated media to gain credibility among customers.
Even though the firm was offering this high-value car at a reduced price, it did not have any agreement with its supplier.
Rangs Motors is the only official dealer of Mercedes Benz, but they are not informed about any business deal with Dhamaka.
When contacted, Redwan Zia, chief executive officer of Rangs Motors, said they do not have any deal with Dhamaka about supplying Mercedes Benz.
He, however, said although his company is the lone official dealer of Mercedes Benz in Bangladesh, there are some importers in the grey market also.
In the advertisement, Dhamaka did not mention the name of any supplier either.
Dhamakashopping accumulated orders worth more than Tk350 crore in four months from January to April this year through such lucrative campaigns, according to the Bangladesh Bank.
Now thousands of customers are running after the online shop to get back their money.
The Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection (DNCRP) has received innumerable customer complaints against this online shop.
The claim settlement rate of this online shop is low at above 20%, according to the DNCRP.
Meanwhile, a primary investigation of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police suspected that Dhamaka has siphoned off around Tk50 crore from the country.
Dhamaka received this money from customers in advance payments and transferred it to bank accounts of other people, according to the investigators.
CID sources said Dhamaka is swindling thousands of customers out of their money using lucrative offers such as "Double Taka Vouchers", "Signature Cards" and other unusually hefty discounts.
The money collected through such fraudulent means is being laundered abroad, the sources added.
Like another controversial online shop Evaly, Dhamakashopping that started its journey in November last year, has received a large amount of advance payments from customers by offering big discounts ranging between 40% and 50% on various products including bikes.