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Xiaomi

Xiaomi downplays reported Russian ban on its smartphones bought online

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 May, 2017, 4:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 May, 2017, 4:22pm

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone brand, has played down reports that Russia is blocking its phones ordered online from entering the country, describing it as “normal practice”.

The Beijing-based company said other smartphone brands were facing similar issues and it is working hard to resolve the issue.

“It is normal practice for Russian customs to tackle parallel goods traders who import goods from overseas online platforms and resell these smartphones in Russia for profits, without paying taxes required by the government,” Xiaomi told the South China Morning Post.

“Some smartphones purchased by individuals in Russia from overseas e-commerce platforms may have been seized by customs, but we are working closely with local partners to clear the situation.”

According to Russian media reports, large quantities of Xiaomi smartphones have been blocked at the borders since April on intellectual property concerns and as Russia tightens its laws against the import of counterfeit goods.

Xiaomi said it was aware of the situation and is working closely with the distributor, Hong Kong-based RDC, to resolve matters. The company said it will abide by the laws of Russian Federation.

It has recommended its Russian customers buy from official channels in the country: RDC and Smart Orange.

RDC operates a research and development team in Shenzhen and has developed a network of official service centres in Russia.

“Purchasing from official channels in Russia means customers are given official warranties and have access to after-sales services,” said Xiaomi.

It is advised by Xiaomi to buy its phones through its official distributor, Smart Orange, the only company legally allowed to sell Xiaomi’s products in Russia, Xiaomi said.

“Smartphones bought through official channels guarantees a better, safer user experience using our official global ROM-based software.”

According to Russian media reports, large quantities of Xiaomi smartphones have been blocked at the borders since April on intellectual property concerns and as Russia tightens its laws against the import of counterfeit goods.

Realnoe Vremya, a Russian online newspaper, suggested the Xiaomi case was not exceptional, with “customers of Sony devices, BlackBerry, Huawei and some other companies facing the same problems”.

“Some experts believe the actions of customs officers are arbitrary, and suspect many are working in collusion with dealers who sell the devices on Russian soil at several times their normal price,” said the report.

Purchasing from official channels in Russia means customers are given official warranties and have access to after-sales services
Xiaomi statement, advising its Russian customers to buy its phones through its official distributor, Smart Orange

Xiaomi’s Mi Note 2, for instance, is priced at 34,990 rubles (US$600) through its official retail channels in Russia, but on Alibaba Group’s retail platform AliExpress.com the handset can be bought for US$478, which is encouraging more Russian customers to buy from various overseas online channels.

AliExpress is an online retail platform made up of mostly small Chinese businesses which sell products to global buyers. It is also one of the most popular e-commerce websites in Russia.

An AliExpress spokesperson said: “Xiaomi products available on AliExpress are through authorised and legitimate sellers on the platform. The sales of Xiaomi products to Russian consumers is business as normal.”

Another cross-border online retail platform, Gearbest.com, had also reportedly stopped selling Xiaomi phones to Russia in a bid to avoid possible return of goods.

Xiaomi only officially launched full operations in Russia late last month, selling three models of handset, the Mi MIX, Mi Note 2, and Redmi 4X.

Xiaomi did not provide its sales data on Russia so far, however media reports suggest the Chinese company already had around a 2.7 per cent market share prior to its official launch there.

Last week, Russia’s telecoms watchdog also placed China’s popular social media app WeChat on its register of prohibited websites.