Is 100bestbuy.com, the worst online shopping site?

100bestbuy.com is accused of delivering sub-standard or different products than what were ordered online by customers. Also the online shopping site is allegedly luring gullible customers with its ‘pay & get a chance to win’ contests

Singapore-based (as per info from ScamAdvisor.com) online retail portal 100bestbuy.com often comes out with exciting ‘combo’ offers of branded products at dirt cheap prices. Several customers, wooed by the offer, immediately click the buy button when they see the promised cash back, clubbed together. However, later, in most cases it has turned out that 100bestbuy.com is delivering products completely different from what the customer had ordered. In fact, several customers alleged that they received products that were sub-standard and from unknown brands even after paying for branded products.

 

They further say that complaints to customer services at 100bestbuy.com do not elicit any response and the online shopkeeper do not refund money easily either. The online shopping portal displays address of Bangalore-based Suksh Technology Pvt Ltd as its official contact address in India. But 100bestbuy.com does not accept any product returns or letters on this address.
 

Moneylife reader, Subodh Karkera had the first-hand experience with 100bestbuy.com, which he shared with us. He said he ordered ‘Ralph Lauren: red polo t-shirt’ from 100bestbuy.com and paid Rs574 (Rs449 for T-shirt plus Rs125 shipping cost) using his debit card on 3 March 2014. However, there was no delivery of the T-shirt. Even after making enquiries with 100bestbuy.com customer services department, there was no answer. After over 20 days, Karkera received an email providing shipment details for ‘Bad Mushroom: white polo t-shirt’, which he never ordered!
 

Karkera says he immediately contacted 100bestbuy.com and asked them to cancel his order and stop the dispatch. But all in vein. On 26th March, 100bestbuy.com delivered ‘Bad Mushroom: white polo t-shirt’ to Karkera. He, however refused to accept the delivery and sent a reminder to the online shopping portal.
 

Importantly, the ‘Bad Mushroom, white polo t-shirt’ that was sent to Karkera was cheaper by Rs31 compared with the Ralph Lauren Red polo t-shirt that he ordered. He says, “These offenders should go behind the bars for taking consumers for a ride.”
 

But Karkera’s is not the only incident about 100bestbuy.com. Venting his anger on MouthShut.com, one angry customer, Rahul Verma wrote, “I purchased three chinos (coloured pants) combo pack from 100bestbuy. After three months they shipped my order. I was happy that after all I got my order but when I opened, I was shocked that they have sent me torn cloths and it was not my order at all. They had sent me the torn ‘pajamas’ clothes. Please don’t purchase anything from 100bestbuy.com.”
 

According to ScamAdvisor.com, this online shopping portal has ‘low trust rating and it may not be safe to use’. It says, “100bestbuy.com is Singapore based, but the real location is being hidden”.
 

It further says, “This website (100bestbuy.com) has been reported as being untrustworthy. This website/ business has been given a low reliability rating by other websites. The owner of the website is using a service to hide their identity.”


One should check ‘safety’ and ‘privacy’ features of site before sharing their bank details and purchasing online. Moneylife earlier wrote cover story; Get the best of online shopping for the holiday season to guide customers about dos and don’ts of online shopping.
 

Un-lucky draw contest from 100bestbuy!
 

100bestbuy.com also offers ‘Pay & get a chance to win’- lucky draw contests, which require customers to pay certain amount to enter into contest and they also promised cash back if they don’t win contest. Few days later they often contact customers and ask customers to buy some of the ‘combo’ pack products and pay. Many customers complained that they never received their money back as promised!
 

100bestbuy.com offered branded and high valued products like iPhone 4S at just Rs333 through their ‘contest’. By paying Rs333 and providing login details, customers can participate in the contest and if they don’t win the contest than they will get their ‘money back’ so people often fall into prey to get valued products at low price. The contest also gets expired within few hours so, people often pay for it online and enter in the contest only to find that it is over. However, despite this 100bestbuy.com continues to promote the offer.


 

As you see above image, it mention special price as Rs333 (save Rs44,167) and exactly below that in Best Deal it asks to pay Rs444 for a chance to win Apple Iphone 4s worth Rs44500 with promise to refund 100% of money!
 

The ‘terms & conditions’ on 100bestbuy explain that, “10 lucky winners will be chosen through a lucky draw conducted by 100bestbuy and informed by email. All participants will get 100% cash-back, in terms of credit points (for e.g.: if you buy any deal or contest worth Rs100 you will be getting 100 credits points in your 100bestbuy account by which you can buy any products on 100bestbuy) Cash back will be done only in terms of credits points. The contest coupon is valid for 90 days only.”
 

One such victim, Shailendra Srivastava said, “I had participated in the contest for Apple iPad and paid Rs199 from my credit card. One day their executive called me and confirmed that I am the contest winner and they are sending my wining product for which I have to pay Rs397 as courier charges. After paying the courier charges I had opened the parcel and surprised by seeing that they had sent the ‘Kuber’ statue, which was not having the worth of more than Rs50. I returned the product and asked my amount back but they refused. They even said no to give me the credit points. To utilize my credit points, I again placed an order for two leather belts and paid Rs87 more for courier, which was of bad quality, hence I returned product. They are not returning my money and forcing me to again purchase some products from them. Kindly help me to get my money back as this company is totally fraud and they are openly cheating the innocent people.”
 

One customer reviewed its customer service and said, “I am one of the victim. This is the worst or pathetic customer service one can expect after making the payment (hard earned money) they may not understand this as it easy earned money for them. This business and the web link should disappear very soon, ban this site. Poor quality, simply worst costumer service they should take some cue from some govt customer services which are far better, No value for money!”
 

Read more stories on online shopping…
 

Get the best of online shopping: Here are the survey results
 

Cheated in online shopping? Here is how you can get justice
 

Online shopping: Web of Lies
 

Online Shopping: 5 Ways to know the site you are using is safe
 

Online shopping: What is it in for you?

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    COMMENTS

    R B UPADHYAY

    5 years ago

    100Bestbuy is fraud company established in Banglore. They have cheated me and I want some one of Banglore, who have been cheated should file a complaint in consumer court and I shall join them by subscribing and lending my case also.

    yashpatil

    5 years ago

    shameless company

    vaishu

    5 years ago

    100bestbuy.com,is the worst online shopping site..
    its a fraud company..
    they cheated me and i lost Rs.1000...
    i have returned the product to refund but they didnt...

    vaishu

    5 years ago

    100bestbuy.com,is the worst online shopping site..
    its a fraud company..
    they cheated me and i lost Rs.1000...
    i have returned the product to refund but they didnt...

    vaishu

    5 years ago

    100bestbuy.com, is the worst online shopping site....

    R B UPADHYAY

    6 years ago

    I too has been cheated by 100bestbuy. It charged me Rs. 699 through on line for a Nokia Experia mobile in the month of Aug. 2014 but have not supplied as yet. My reminders have not resulted into the supply at all. I request for helping me in the matter to get the mobile.The Order No. is 15394813.

    Vijay Bharti

    6 years ago

    100best buy a biggest chor/ fraud company on online purchase.

    Bilal Malick

    6 years ago

    Now their customer care phone number and email id both are not working.

    Bilal Malick

    6 years ago

    Now their customer care phone number and email id both are not working.

    Suraj Bhalla

    6 years ago

    yes 100 best buy is a froud and worst site they make customer fool

    SUNIL KUMAR

    6 years ago

    100BESTBUY IS A CHEATER.I AM HAVING 10149 CREDIT POINTS BUT NOT ABLE TO USE EVEN Rs.100/-ALSO THEY ARE NOT RETURNING MY MONEY (RS. 2787/-) PAID THROUGH NET BANKING.the whole story as follows(mails sent to 100best):
    From: "Sunil Kumar"
    To: [email protected]
    Cc: [email protected];
    Sent: Sat, 28 Feb 2015 14:44:44 +0530
    Subject: Refund of Rs 2787, Ref # 33207877

    Dear Sir
    Ref # 33207877
    Further to trailing mail , it is to inform you that I got a call from you
    (mob no 8088762058) asking for debit card details to transfer the refund amount of rs. 2787/-.I sent details trough mail. Again today I got call to confirm my Debit card details and Balance amount in my account (rs 500/-).Now I checked my account then it is showing debit of rs.449/- in two transactions for e commerce(DETAILS ATTACHED).

    Please refund back total amount of rs. 2787/- plus rs. 449/-

    --
    Sunil Kumar
    Trichy

    From: SUNIL KUMAR
    Sent: 24 February 2015 15:03
    To: '100bestbuy Service'; '[email protected]'
    Subject: FW: Order not despatched- Reminder-III

    Dear Sir
    Ref # 33207877, payment made on 18.12.2014, order confirmation mail
    received on 18.12.2014 (trailing mail), but order not despatched till
    date. Copy of bank statement and order Invoice attached for reference
    (sent through mail many times). Every time I contact over phone, new date
    of despatch is being assured but Product Not despatched till date.

    Now status is showing as Order Refund, credit points used for Order
    returned back but amount of Rs.2787/- paid through Net Banking not
    credited back to my Bank till date.

    Also, even I am having 10149 credit points, I am not able to use even
    rs100/-.

    So all my money paid and credited back as credit point on 100best account
    is unusable.

    Therefore I request you to return back into my Bank account the amount of
    Rs2787/- paid through net banking for above mentioned order.

    Please do the needful to return back rs2787/- to my Bank account or
    Despatch above mentioned order immediately.

    Thanks & regards
    SUNIL KUMAR

    Bilal Malick

    6 years ago

    On 9th January 2015 at 12:02 pm I received a call from 100bestbuy.com(+91 8039235800), on the call that executive had told that I had been selected for the monthly prize drawn of Sony z3 mobile. Out of 200 contestants only 20 will get selected prize drawn and I am one among them. For participating on the prize drawn I need to product for cost worth Rs.899, they told that they will sending the shoe which cost Rs.899, We will also provide 50% cash back for this product with Rs.100 discount coupon. He told that I will get these 50% cash back, discount coupon and lucky drawn entry with this Shoe. He had mentioned clearly that if I don’t like the shoe, I can exchange it or get refund. And also he mentioned that if I had selected on lucky drawn that Rs.899 also will be refunded to me.


    So I confirmed the purchase by calling a mobile no. which he had told to call. And then I got call from one of the executive who called me and asking confirmation for shirts by asking my shirt size. I told her that I had confirmed order for shoe not for the shirts. Then she asked my shoe size and confirmed the order.


    They had not told, what is the shoe make? or brand name? or color? or anything details about the product? I just confirmed the order in the sense of, I can replace or refund in future as per that executives call.


    In a next 2 days I received the order and I paid Rs. 899 through COD method. When I open box, I really got shocked, he said just shoe but he sent a boots shoe which is not on my taste and preference. And I had checked the same product their website on 12th January 2015, that product costs only Rs.629. So I called the customer care executive on that day for this issue, told MRP of the product is Rs.899, but today offer price is Rs.629.


    So I put a mail to 13th January 2015 by mentioning refund request. There is no response for my mail. So I contacted them through their customer care support number. They told that they will refund the amount only when they receive the product back.

    During Govt holidays 14th, 15th and 16th January I cannot able to send courier through India post, so I check with private courier, they told it cost Rs.360 for shipping that product. So before sending courier I asked them confirm, that they will refund the courier charges too? through mail. But there is no reply for my mail. So again I tried to call them many time to getting confirmation from them. They agrees on phone call, but they had not send reply for my mail. I clearly mentioned them on a call to send the mail with written confirmation for future reference. But there is no reply mail from them.


    On 17th January 2015, I sent the courier to them through India Post. And sent mail to them to for start processin the refund request, but there is no response from them. I called many times to their customer care number, but no one had replied me properly. And there is no response from them. So I put a mail to all their means such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]. But there is no response from anyone.


    Till 21st January there is no response from the 100bestbuy.com, even if I call also there is no proper response. I have waited for 10 to 15 minutes for each and every unresponsive calls. And spent more than Rs.150 for phone calls itself.

    On 22nd January 2015 morning, I had called the customer support again for refund process. A executive attended the call, her name is Ragini Sharma, she told that, they didn’t receive any mail from my side to their [email protected]. But I told her that I send mail to info id also on all my mail. So I send all the mail again to [email protected] after the call, and told her to process the refund. And after I send a mail, I called the customer support again for getting confirmation for my mail, but a guy attend the call, his name is Rakesh Singh, He told that all his higher authorities are not on office now at around 11:20am, so he told that he will call me back in few hours with the higher authority for refund process.


    But till 23rd Morning I had not received any call from them, so again on 23rd morning I had called them and waited on call for 10 to 15 minutes to get the customer care executive. A guy had attended the call and he told he will refund the amount within a hour as credit points. I asked him thrice, that I can use that credit amount to purchase any product from the website for that amount without restriction on using the credit point amount of Rs. 1100. But they had refunded only Rs.1000 as credit points. Even I asked the executive Ragini Sharma also this question for using the credit points amount. She also confirmed I can use fully to purchase a product without any restrictions.


    I already read about their credit point’s usage policy before, that the reason I asked them many time for confirmation using that amount credit points.


    Yesterday(29th January 2015) I tried purchase a product from their website, but all the product are out of stock they have only few countable products for sales on their website. So I had selected one product to place the order with the credit point amount of Rs.1000 but its not usable. When I placing order a girl called me to confirm the order, at that I told all this thing and I am trying to buy it with credit points, but I cannot able to buy. She simply says you cannot able to use to credit points fully to purchase a single product or discounted product. But this credit point is not the point which I get as bonus or complimentary for using it partially for many product. This is the digital cash which I paid for them. But she had not listen anything and cutted the call without listening my queries.


    After that, I called their customer support number again twice on yesterday evening 5.30pm. My call was on waiting list for 15 minutes twice but no one attended the call and call dropped. So 30 minutes of phone call charges gone without speaking anything.


    And On 2nd February, the product which I couriered them back through india post had returned back to me by mentioning there is no such address on Delhi.


    On 11th Febraury one of the legal person from 100bestbuy called me and told that they will permission of utilizing the whole credit point to purchase any product with the conditions of that the credit points cannot be used on discounted or offer products.

    So i checked their website again for utilising the credit points, i cannot able to use it again, because 90% of products listed on their website are Out of stock. Only 10% of products are in stock, and that 10% products are on discount and offer prices.

    So i dont want to waste my time and energy on aruguing with them. I want my Total money of Rs.1079 for product and courier charge back. Kindly help me get back my money from them.

    Bilal Malick

    6 years ago

    Even I was cheated by them in the name of sony xperia z3 contest.

    On 9th January 2015 at 12:02 pm I received a call from 100bestbuy.com(+91 8039235800), on the call that executive had told that I had been selected for the monthly prize drawn of Sony z3 mobile. Out of 200 contestants only 20 will get selected prize drawn and I am one among them. For participating on the prize drawn I need to product for cost worth Rs.899, they told that they will sending the shoe which cost Rs.899, We will also provide 50% cash back for this product with Rs.100 discount coupon. He told that I will get these 50% cash back, discount coupon and lucky drawn entry with this Shoe. He had mentioned clearly that if I don’t like the shoe, I can exchange it or get refund. And also he mentioned that if I had selected on lucky drawn that Rs.899 also will be refunded to me.


    So I confirmed the purchase by calling a mobile no. which he had told to call. And then I got call from one of the executive who called me and asking confirmation for shirts by asking my shirt size. I told her that I had confirmed order for shoe not for the shirts. Then she asked my shoe size and confirmed the order.


    They had not told, what is the shoe make? or brand name? or color? or anything details about the product? I just confirmed the order in the sense of, I can replace or refund in future as per that executives call.


    In a next 2 days I received the order and I paid Rs. 899 through COD method. When I open box, I really got shocked, he said just shoe but he sent a boots shoe which is not on my taste and preference. And I had checked the same product their website on 12th January 2015, that product costs only Rs.629. So I called the customer care executive on that day for this issue, told MRP of the product is Rs.899, but today offer price is Rs.629.


    So I put a mail to 13th January 2015 by mentioning refund request. There is no response for my mail. So I contacted them through their customer care support number. They told that they will refund the amount only when they receive the product back.

    During Govt holidays 14th, 15th and 16th January I cannot able to send courier through India post, so I check with private courier, they told it cost Rs.360 for shipping that product. So before sending courier I asked them confirm, that they will refund the courier charges too? through mail. But there is no reply for my mail. So again I tried to call them many time to getting confirmation from them. They agrees on phone call, but they had not send reply for my mail. I clearly mentioned them on a call to send the mail with written confirmation for future reference. But there is no reply mail from them.


    On 17th January 2015, I sent the courier to them through India Post. And sent mail to them to for start processin the refund request, but there is no response from them. I called many times to their customer care number, but no one had replied me properly. And there is no response from them. So I put a mail to all their means such as [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]. But there is no response from anyone.


    Till 21st January there is no response from the 100bestbuy.com, even if I call also there is no proper response. I have waited for 10 to 15 minutes for each and every unresponsive calls. And spent more than Rs.150 for phone calls itself.

    On 22nd January 2015 morning, I had called the customer support again for refund process. A executive attended the call, her name is Ragini Sharma, she told that, they didn’t receive any mail from my side to their [email protected]. But I told her that I send mail to info id also on all my mail. So I send all the mail again to [email protected] after the call, and told her to process the refund. And after I send a mail, I called the customer support again for getting confirmation for my mail, but a guy attend the call, his name is Rakesh Singh, He told that all his higher authorities are not on office now at around 11:20am, so he told that he will call me back in few hours with the higher authority for refund process.


    But till 23rd Morning I had not received any call from them, so again on 23rd morning I had called them and waited on call for 10 to 15 minutes to get the customer care executive. A guy had attended the call and he told he will refund the amount within a hour as credit points. I asked him thrice, that I can use that credit amount to purchase any product from the website for that amount without restriction on using the credit point amount of Rs. 1100. But they had refunded only Rs.1000 as credit points. Even I asked the executive Ragini Sharma also this question for using the credit points amount. She also confirmed I can use fully to purchase a product without any restrictions.


    I already read about their credit point’s usage policy before, that the reason I asked them many time for confirmation using that amount credit points.


    Yesterday(29th January 2015) I tried purchase a product from their website, but all the product are out of stock they have only few countable products for sales on their website. So I had selected one product to place the order with the credit point amount of Rs.1000 but its not usable. When I placing order a girl called me to confirm the order, at that I told all this thing and I am trying to buy it with credit points, but I cannot able to buy. She simply says you cannot able to use to credit points fully to purchase a single product or discounted product. But this credit point is not the point which I get as bonus or complimentary for using it partially for many product. This is the digital cash which I paid for them. But she had not listen anything and cutted the call without listening my queries.


    After that, I called their customer support number again twice on yesterday evening 5.30pm. My call was on waiting list for 15 minutes twice but no one attended the call and call dropped. So 30 minutes of phone call charges gone without speaking anything.


    And On 2nd February, the product which I couriered them back through india post had returned back to me by mentioning there is no such address on Delhi.


    On 11th Febraury one of the legal person from 100bestbuy called me and told that they will permission of utilizing the whole credit point to purchase any product with the conditions of that the credit points cannot be used on discounted or offer products.

    So i checked their website again for utilising the credit points, i cannot able to use it again, because 90% of products listed on their website are Out of stock. Only 10% of products are in stock, and that 10% products are on discount and offer prices.

    So i dont want to waste my time and energy on aruguing with them. I want my Total money of Rs.1079 for product and courier charge back. Kindly help me get back my money from them.

    Suryamani Tiwari

    6 years ago

    If you are looking to shop with this site.................than i want to inform you that I had place an order on 16 dec still I have not received neither product nor money several time I mailed him all the time they ask for 2-3 days.......................................

    Tinku Pradeep

    6 years ago

    I have a call from 100bestbuy in.which a man said that I have winner of the quiz in which I have a chance to win sony experia Z For this they have sent me a laoffer shoes pair with cost 900 and a coupan cost 1500 which I used further shoping on 100bestbuy tottly free.but when I open the courier their is no shoes their is 2pair of foot both shoes.when I complete regarding this to 100bestbuy they reply that returned it to same address from.where courier had.come...please tell me what I do..how can I refund my money ...please help me..

    MADRID: Livin’la Vida Loca

    If there’s one city on earth that knows how to ‘live the crazy life’, it’s Madrid. Naveena Israni explores the passion and vibes of this effervescent city

    For years considered the ugly stepsister of beautiful Barcelona, Madrid has finally come into its own. It has emerged as the beating heart of Spain, a beguiling city that really knows how to live. The seat of the government and monarchy, Madrid has an old-world elegance that’s reflected everywhere—from the gardens, monuments and museums to medieval mansions and royal palaces. Despite being tied to tradition, the city is brimming with cutting-edge design, fine arts and sheer energy. Its gregarious nightlife is also legendary; the innumerable bars and nightclubs enhance the appeal of after-dark Madrid. No wonder, tourists can’t afford to give this city a miss.

    Getting around Madrid is convenient and reasonably priced. The city sports one of the best public transportation networks in the world and the second-largest metro system in Europe. Buses and subways form an integrated network. A single ride costs €1.50 / €2, while a 10-ride ticket costs €12.20 / €18.30 (depending on the zone). To save cost, buy a 10-ride Metro-bus ticket that is valid on both metro and bus. You can also buy an unlimited travel pass for one, two, three, five or seven days.

    The best sightseeing option is Madrid ‘Hop-On Hop-Off-City-Tour’ bus. It operates on two separate routes, but a single ticket is valid on both routes. The tour costs €21 for one day and €25 for two days. If you’re planning to spend more than a day touring the city, buy the money-saving Madrid card that provides free entry to over 50 museums and a variety of attractions.

    If you don’t want to travel by public transport, flag down taxis that are plentiful and not too expensive. Most taxi-drivers don’t speak English, so make sure to carry your destination address written in Spanish or your hotel’s business card. It would help to know a few Spanish words to indicate directions and street numbers. Renting a car isn’t recommended, since parking is a nightmare. This makes sense only if you’re planning day-trips to nearby towns.

    Though Madrid is considered the most expensive city in Spain, it’s cheaper for travellers than major world capitals like Paris, London or New York. You can change cash or traveller’s cheques at any bank or exchange bureau. Get your cheques in large denominations to save on per-cheque commission charges. Exchange bureaux have longer hours than those of banks, but worse rates and steeper commissions. Most major credit cards are accepted throughout Spain.

    Tourists should watch out for value-added tax, known as impuesto sobre el valor añadido (IVA). Hotels and restaurants charge IVA at 7%; on retail goods, it’s 16%. Visitors are entitled to a refund of the 16% IVA on purchases above €90.16 from any shop. Just ask the shop for a cash-back refund form and present it at the customs booth for reimbursement when you depart from Spain.

    Once you’ve figured out your mode of transport and payment, begin exploring the city’s raw, infectious energy. Few cities have an artistic pedigree as rich as Madrid’s. Masterpieces by Spanish talents such as Goya, Velázquez, El Greco,Picasso, Dalí and Miró, apart from a plethora of Flemish/Dutch (Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Bosch), Italian (Botticelli, Raphael, Caravaggio), French (Monet, Renoir, Degas) and German (Dürer, Cranach, Grien) artists adorn the city’s world-class galleries.

    First-time tourists must visit the ‘golden triangle’ of museums—Museo Nacional del Prado, one of the finest art museums in the world having the best collection of classical art in Madrid; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, housing one of the most extraordinary private collections of European art in the world from the 13th century to the present day; and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which has a stunning collection of Spanish modern art starting from the 20th century. However, these museums are vast, so don’t visit them on the same day. Also, they offer free entry during certain times of the day, so take advantage of them on a lesser budget.

    The Prado is a seemingly endless parade of over 7,000 priceless works that will seduce any art connoisseur. Though it’s impossible to see the entire collection, there are certain masterpieces you shouldn’t miss. Velázquez is the undisputed headliner of the Prado’s collection. His Las Meninas is to the Prado what Mona Lisa is to The Louvre in Paris. Also ranked among Madrid’s most emblematic paintings are Goya’s The Second of May, 1808 and The Third of May, 1808, portraying the anti-French revolt and execution of insurgents in Madrid. The museum timings are 10am-8pm (Monday to Saturday) and 10am-7pm (Sundays and public holidays). There’s free entry from 6pm-8pm (Monday to Saturday) and 5pm-7 pm (Sundays and public holidays). The entrance ticket costs €14 (general) and €23 (with visitor’s guide book). The Prado’s website offers timed-entry tickets that are cheaper than those bought over the counter.

    At the Thyssen-Bornemisza (entry ticket €8), begin your visit on the second floor, home to medieval art, and make your way down to modern works on the ground level. Meanwhile, the Reina Sofía’s (entry ticket €8) biggest draw is Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica—his protest against the German bombing of the Basque town of Guernica in 1937. Another eye-catching architectural innovation in Madrid is the Caixa Forum, a private museum of contemporary art and culture that seems to hover above the ground. You can’t miss the jardín colgante (hanging garden), a vertical wall of greenery almost four-storey high.

    Once you’ve had your fill of art and architecture, unwind at the glorious gardens of Parque del Buen Retiro. Interspersed with marble monuments, landscaped lawns and abundant greenery, it’s the perfect place for a stroll, boat ride or to nurse a cool drink. The focal point is the artificial lake, watched over by the massive Monument to King Alfonso XII. Retiro Park comes alive on weekends with street/theatre performers, live musicians, clowns, magic/puppet/dog shows, tarot card readers and hawkers.

    Another place to chill out is Plaza Mayor, an elegant and bustling square. Considered Madrid’s architectural jewel, it transports you back to the 17th century. It’s surrounded on three sides by ochre-hued apartments. The only break in symmetry is the Real Casa de la Panadería (Royal Bakery), decorated with colourful frescoes. Ringed with souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants, the square is packed with people, day and night. Pull up a chair (at the outdoor tables) or laze upon the cobblestones to gaze at the Spanish street life buzzing through the plaza. Then wander around Los Austrias neighbourhood teeming with tapas bars and nightclubs. A noisier gathering place is Puerta del Sol, a plaza with neo-classical buildings which is considered the heart of Madrid and one of the busiest places in the city. Indulge in the various shopping and eating joints, but watch out for pickpockets. Another tourist attraction is Plaza de Cibeles that evokes the splendour of imperial Madrid. It houses the Fountain of Cibeles, which portrays the Roman goddess of fertility sitting upon a chariot pulled by two lions. Whenever Real Madrid football club wins a match, its fans come here to celebrate.

    Another must-visit tourist spot is Palacio Real, one of the most emblematic and beautiful buildings in Madrid. This 18th-century royal palace is the official residence of the King of Spain, though the royal family doesn’t reside here. However, the palace is sometimes used for official ceremonies. Be prepared for a visual onslaught; the opulent interiors, architecture and artistic treasures will bombard your senses. Tour the elegant Royal Chambers, resplendent Banquet Hall, lavish Throne Room and extravagant Porcelain Room and see their exquisite tapestries, frescoes, artwork, carvings, china, silverware, etc. Also visit the Farmacia Real (Royal Pharmacy) that contains a formidable collection of medicine jars for mixing royal concoctions. Continue on to the Armería Real (Royal Armoury) which houses a hoard of medieval weapons and suits of armour. The palace timings during April-September are 9am-6pm (Monday to Saturday) and 9am-3pm (Sundays and public holidays); it closes one hour earlier from October-March. The entry ticket costs €10.

    For football fanatics, a tour of Santiago Bernabeu (entry ticket €19), the home of Real Madrid, is not to be missed. Circumnavigate the towering stadium and field, sit in the players’ dug-out, visit the dressing rooms, Press Room and Real Madrid Museum, take a peek at the club’s trophies /jerseys/shoes or buy Real Madrid memorabilia from the club shop. You can even get morphed photos clicked with your favourite player and purchase them as souvenirs, though they are costly (large photo €17, small photo €12).

    If you visit Madrid during the bull-fighting season (mid-May to October), head to Plaza de Toros Las Ventas to gain an insight into this Spanish tradition—filled with blood, courage, nobility and, sadly, cruelty. Las Ventas is one of the largest and most revered bullfighting rings in the world. Each bullfight stars three matadores and six bulls. Each matador leads a team of toreros, picadores and banderilleros. They aim to impress the crowd with daring moves which, ultimately, result in the bull being killed. Buy tickets in advance to bag good seats. Ticket prices range from €5 to €150.

    Madrid also offers excellent shopping and entertainment opportunities. The smartest shopping district for tourists is Sol-Salamanca, home to El Corte Inglés (Spain’s largest department store); high-street names like Zara, H&M, Mango; and top designers like Chanel, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Adolfo Domínguez, Cartier, Prada, etc. The most avant-garde part of Madrid is Fuencarral Street, lined with restaurants, shops and night clubs. The main market here is Mercado de Fuencarral. Besides selling clothes, shoes, accessories and decorative items, it hosts cultural activities like disc jockey sessions, cinema and theatre performances. Gran Via is another busy avenue that’s good for shopping, Broadway-type musicals and flamenco performances. If you’re looking for bargain deals, shop at Alcalá Street. Or head to El Rastro, Madrid’s largest Sunday flea market selling clothes, leather goods, jewellery and handicrafts. But watch your wallet!

    Once you’re done with sightseeing and shopping, it’s time to test Madrid’s reputation for culinary excellence. The city has embraced the innovation of Spain’s gastronomic revolution, while staying true to traditional Spanish cooking. Its residents love going out to eat and drink. Most bars and nightclubs stay open till 3am or 4am. The practice of stopping for tapas (small snack) and cana (draft beer) before dinner is an institution. The secret to enjoying a variety of tapas is to seek out the specialty of each bar, wash it down with a drink and move on to the next bar.

    Madrid is also teeming with delis, cafés and gastro-bars with great food and a lively atmosphere. They range from simple and reasonable to elegant and pricey. Two people can dine well for €50 or €150—or a lot less if they opt for tapas. A 10% tip for a meal is considered generous, 5% is more the norm. Finally, no trip to Madrid is complete without sampling these must-have food items—Tortilla Española (Spanish omelette made of eggs, potatoes and onions), Paella (Spain’s national dish made of rice, seafood, meat and vegetables) and Churros (Spanish doughnuts).

    After spending a few days here, you’ll realise that no city captures the Spanish soul as well as Madrid. Its architectural and artistic history provides a glorious backdrop to city life, while the exotic nature of bull-fights and flamenco lures tourists, time and again. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head to Madrid to soak in some Spanish passion!

    Essential Facts

    When To Go
    Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Madrid, especially April, May, June, September and October. Cultural and street festivals are held for most of May. It’s uncomfortably warm during July-August and bitterly cold in January-February. If you’re here for the art galleries and museums, avoid Mondays—when many are closed; the Reina Sofía is an exception, closing on Tuesdays.

    Getting There
    Air: Madrid Barajas International Airport is located 13km from the city centre. It’s one of the largest airports in Europe and serviced by many airlines from Europe and beyond. The biggest airlines flying to Madrid are: Emirates, British Airways and Lufthansa. There are no direct flights between India and Madrid.

    Train: Renfe trains connect Madrid with destinations throughout Spain. Also, the Eurail connects Madrid with other European cities like Lisbon, Milan, Paris, etc. Madrid has two train stations—Chamartín and Atocha. Most northbound and international trains arrive and depart from Chamartín, while trains to Barcelona, Valencia and southern Spain depart from Atocha.

    Where To Stay
    Madrid has a large number of hotels. Staying in a luxury hotel can cost more than €200 a day; mid-range and semi-luxurious boutique hotels charge €100- €200, while budget hotels rarely cost over €60. Advance reservation is recommended. Retiro and Los Austrias are upmarket areas housing luxury hotels, while Sol and Gran Vía are best for mid-range accommodation. Malasaña and Chueca offer good budget pensiones (guest houses), while Huertas and Santa Anaareas have cheap pensiones and boutique hotels.

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    Smartphone sales surges almost three-fold in India to 44 million

    During the December quarter, Samsung maintained its leadership with a 38% share in the Indian smartphone market, followed by Micromax (16%), Karbonn (10%), Sony (5%) and Lava (4.7%), says IDC

    Smartphone sales in India grew almost three-fold to over 44 million during 2013, buoyed by a strong uptake of affordable devices made by local companies such as Micromax and Karbonn.

     

    According to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone shipments in India stood at 16.2 million in 2012. "India was one of the fastest-growing countries worldwide in terms of smartphone adoption in 2013. This surge has been mainly powered by home-grown vendors, which have shown a tremendous and consistent growth over the past four quarters of 2013," IDC said in a release.

     

    Korean player Samsung maintained its leadership with a 38% share of the Indian smartphone market, followed by Micromax (16%), Karbonn (10%), Sony (5%) and Lava (4.7%) in Q4 2013.

     

    There was a remarkable migration from feature phones to smartphones last year, primarily because of the narrowing price gaps between the two product categories, it added.

     

    According to IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, India will be key to future smartphone growth as it represents more than a quarter of the global feature phone market. "Growth in the India market doesn't rely on high-end devices like the iPhone, but in low-cost Android phones. Nearly half of the smartphones shipped in India in 2013 cost less than $120," said Kiranjeet Kaur, senior market analyst for mobile phones at IDC Asia/Pacific.

     

    IDC research shows nearly half the mobile handsets sold across the world have retail prices of less than $100 without sales tax. Two thirds of those have prices of less than $50.

     

    Overall phone shipments in the country rose 18% to about 257 million units in 2013 from 218 million units in the previous year.

     

    "Growth in the smartphone segment is expected to outpace the overall handset market growth for the foreseeable future. The end-user shift towards mid-to-high screen size products will be amplified by the declining prices and availability of feature-rich localised product offerings," it said.

     

    In the overall phone market, Samsung was the market leader with a 19% share in Q4 2013, followed by Micromax (13%), Nokia (12%), Karbonn (10%) and Lava (6%).

     

    In the October-December 2013, vendors shipped 15.06 million smartphones compared with 5.35 million in Q4 2012. There was a spike in smartphone shipments by smaller domestic vendors such as Lava and Intex in the quarter.

     

    "Growth in the smartphone market is being propelled by the launch of low-end, cost competitive devices by international and local vendors which are further narrowing the price gaps that exist between feature phones and smartphones," IDC India senior market analyst Manasi Yadav said.

     

    International vendors have understood the importance of creating a diverse portfolio of devices at varied price points and are striving to launch cost competitive devices that cater to every segment in the target audience, IDC India Research Manager Kiran Kumar said.

     

    The 5 inch-6.99 inch screen size smartphones (phablets) accounted for about 20% of the overall market in Q4.

     

    The overall mobile phone market (feature and smart phones) stood at 67.83 million units in Q4 2013, up 16% year-on-year.

     

    Many smartphone vendors have begun gearing up for this next wave of cost pressure. Samsung is increasingly switching production to Vietnam, where manufacturing costs currently undercut mainland China, IDC said.

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