The delivery boy arrived at my doorstep with an oversized bag slung over his frail shoulders. Sweating, he handed over a wrapped brown package. I smiled and signed for the delivery. He strode off, presumably to deliver the numerous other packages on his route.
The delivery was wholly unremarkable, much like the thousands that take place everyday across India. Except that it wasn’t the typical e-commerce delivery. For one, I’d mailed the package to myself. And secondly, I’d just scammed Quikr and Paytm of 2,000 rupees.
It had all started when I’d come across an innocuous query on a Facebook group. Someone was having trouble moving a bed across Bangalore, and was wondering what the best way to transport it was. The first response struck me as rather odd.
The response got popular really quickly – 21 likes in the first 10 mins. I was intrigued. How does one use Quikr, a classifieds site, as an intra-city delivery logistics service?
A cursory glance at the Quikr website provided the answer. Quikr was running a promotion in which it was providing free deliveries for items exchanged by users. Not only did it provide free transport of goods as large as desktop computers and beds, it – here’s the kicker – was giving away a Rs. 1000 Paytm cashback to both parties, no questions asked.
Now Quikr is no fly-by-night operator. It is a unicorn, which is startup parlance for a company that’s worth over a billion dollars. So the idea that it was providing free delivery services wasn’t unfathomable. But being a large company, surely they’d have processes in place to make sure that you couldn’t use their largesse like a free delivery service, and get some Paytm cashback while at it?
I had to find out. Also, the prospect of some money into my Paytm account wasn’t unappealing.
I enlisted my brother into my insidious plan. I had no bed to transport, so I hastily put up an ad for a clunky old Moto phone on Quikr. “Sparingly used Moto XXX phone for sale”, my ad ingenuously announced. I also demanded an ambitious asking price of Rs. 14,000 for a phone that I’d bought for Rs. 8000. The Paytm cashback was valid for purchases above Rs. 12,500 after all.
My brother then logged into his account and quickly bought the phone. Quikr sent us both congratulatory messages, and we went to sleep happy.
The next morning my phone rang. “Hello Sir”, said the voice on the other end. “I’m calling from Quikr.”
My heart sank. They were on to me.
“Had you posted an ad about a Moto phone yesterday?”, the man asked.
“Yes”, I said breathing heavily.
“You haven’t uploaded an image of the phone, Sir. You need to have an images to make your ad look attractive and get responses.”
I started breathing a lot less heavily.
After I’d assured the call center employee that my ad had been attractive enough to find a buyer moments after posting it, the process for my illicit transaction was underway. A Quikr representative showed up at my office to pick up the phone (I’d taken the precaution of giving separate addresses). It was delivered the very same day to my house. Our Paytm accounts each reflected shiny new cashbacks of Rs. 1,000 a day later.
I discussed my little caper with some friends, and it seems fairly common. While I’d focused on the cashback, people have been more creative, using Quikr to transport bulky goods across cities. I hear that startups like Quikr are funded by foreign Venture Capitalists who are flush with cash, and they’re willing to splurge to get more customers and transaction values. The money invested now will supposedly reap huge rewards later when these companies become established players in the market.
Until then I’ll think about what to do with my Paytm cashback. Maybe if I do this enough times I can become a Venture Capitalist myself.
[The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of OfficeChai.]