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The Noida-based startup Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd. has got worldwide publicity, thanks to its claims of offering the world’s cheapest smartphone called Freedom 251 that costs just INR 251 (not even $4). However, reports regarding the possibility of this being a scam has spoiled the image of the company very much. Also, it has been found that the Freedom 251 phone units given to the media are actually a feature phone from a company called Adcom (Advantage Computers).

Freedom 251

Ashok Chadha, President at Ringing Bells, claimed that the Adcom handsets were given out to the media only as samples or prototypes, and that the real Freedom 251 phone will be an all new device with all the features the company has promised.

Adcom’s Chairman and Found Sanjeev Bhatia said yesterday:

We are deeply grieved by this incident where our mobile phone has been presented to masses for Rs.251, and therefore, would not hesitate from taking any legal actions against the company, in case the entire fiasco impacts Adcom’s brand name or subsequently we face any other kind of losses.

Yes, it is true that although we sold the handsets to Ringing Bells earlier, like we sell Adcom mobiles to lakhs of users, we were absolutely unaware of the reselling plans of the company in question.

Furthermore, we still haven’t been able to evaluate their pricing policy as we sold the handsets at Rs.3,600 per unit (to Ringing Bells).

Ringing Bells’ Noida offices were found shut a couple of days ago due to land ownership issues. A statement was released by Ringing Bells yesterday, claiming that they aren’t involved in this case and it’s a dispute between the landlord and NOIDA authority.

 The company stated:

While speculation is rife regarding the legitimacy of our occupying the premises we operate from, i.e., our corporate office at B-44, Sector 63, Noida 201301 in Uttar Pradesh, we wish to make it clear that the current dispute regarding the nature of business conducted at the property is between NOIDA authority and our landlord.

Ringing Bells has claimed that they have refunded the money that came from the first 30,000 pre-orders in the first day of sale. The company now says that the phones will be available via COD (Cash on Delivery) so that any misgivings are cleared up. 25 lakh Freedom 251 phones are planned to be released in the first phase in June.

Ashok Chadda’s complete statement:

While speculation is rife regarding the legitimacy of our occupying the premises we operate from, i.e. our Corporate Office at B-44, Sector 63, Noida 201301 in Uttar Pradesh, we wish to make it clear that the current dispute regarding the nature of business conducted at the property is between Noida authority and our landlord. It is our humble request not to drag us in any controversy.

On Adcom’s role, We would like to clarify that they provided some prototypes for the sample Freedom- 251 handed to some special guests including media for initial impression about the way phone would look and behave in future. We have other partners for assembly of our phones. We are happy to share their names on special requests!

The launch of the world’s most affordable and the cheapest smartphone Freedom 251 for a price of Rs. 251 by Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd. has set the world by fire, with the common man rejoicing even in the midst of some unfavourable controversy. Citing heavy demand, we have now announced that we are no longer taking bookings on Freedom 251.

It also requested that our sudden rise be not misconstrued as a fly-by-night operation. The company has already instructed the Payment Gateway to refund the few online payments that came in on the first pre-booking 18/2 date. The mode of payment now will be only Cash on Delivery. The orders placed by the customers are not cancelled but the payment will be taken only on delivery. Ringing Bells hopes to begin deliveries of Freedom 251 by around end of April.

Just as we have been taking due diligence to issues and matter brought forth to the management of Ringing Bells Pvt. Ltd.; we would continue to investigate and respond with due diligence. Rest assured the matter would be taken up with utmost sincerity and necessary action will be initiated according to the requirement. The negative impact some reports carried, has activated a comprehensive emergency response. Battling mistrust and facing severe criticism, the company would never scuttle its idea.