SHAFT: For Want of Peace of Mind (FRANQUE’S FRIDAYS)

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I have refrained from writing about corporate bodies and governments because my life has enough drama by itself, but when their drama jams my life, then all bets are off. As I cannot call the Police, and I am tired of grumbling in the privacy of my bedroom, I have decided to share some of these with you…

For Want of Peace of Mind

In June of 2010 my best buddie, Bako, asked me to go with him to buy a new mobile phone.

Now, I am a pre-owned phone type of guy, but my friend buys everything from ‘approved’ dealers and retailers – complete with packs and receipts.

We went to a SLOT store in Ikeja, and after browsing through the phones they had on display he settled for a Nokia N77 handset. As the FIFA World Cup was around the corner and Big Brother Africa too, he subscribed for DStv mobile. All paid for and receipted.

The other day I received a call from Bako asking if I was free anytime during the week as the handset was faulty and he wanted to take it back to the dealers to get it sorted – it was still within warranty. Being off work, and having nothing lined up, I said “Why not?”

Next morning found us at the SLOT outlet in Ikeja, the outlet that serves as the main hub. After speaking with a guy about why we were there, we were sent to the outlet where we had purchased the set.

There, after being passed from person to person, we were directed back to an office at the store hub, the same place we had just come from!

I was begining to get iritated, but I reined in my annoyance for Bako’s sake. When we got there, after almost five minutes waiting in line I was sitting in front of a customer service representative. I explained to her how we had bought the phone from their shop and less than a year before and it was covered by warranty.

“What handset is it?” She asked me.

“See lady, I am tired of having to answer that question ’cause it seems everytime I say what model it is I get sent off somewhere else.” I stopped to breathe. “It’s a Nokia N77 handset.”

Heaven knows I was set to explode.

I pulled out the box from the bag I was carrying and placed it on the table with the iCell waranty hologram facing her, and opened it to show her the receipt for good measure.

“Actually, you will have to go to the Nokia care point to have it looked at. Though I can tell you that they may not be able to fix it.” That last part did not register with me as I was still bristling with outrage at being given the run around.

“Oh, and you won’t be needing the box,” she added kind of like an after thought.

When we got to the Nokia centre we took tally numbers and waited. Finally it was our turn and, as speaker designate, I took my seat across from the lady. After explaining the problem to her she asked what model the hanset was. As soon as the words “N77” left my mouth, another lady sitting next to her abandoned the customer she was attending to and quipped, “I don’t think that phone has a valid warranty.”

They went on to school me on how ‘Warranty’ works:

The phones are covered for a period of 18 months from the date of manufacture, making room for shipment and distribution, calculated at 6 months. That leaves the dealer and buyer one year. The thing though is, some of these phones do not leave the shelves within the warranty period and anyone buying one of them at this time is on a long thing.

What is more, there is no foolproof way of knowing if the phone you are buying is within warranty despite the seal on the pack. Your best bet is to buy the phone, take it to a Nokia care point to have it checked, and if found to be out of warranty, return it to the dealer within 24 hours of purchase. Alternatively, there are a series of steps to verify:

Step 1: Get the IMEI number under the battery or by typing *#06#;

Step 2: Send an SMS with IMEI then space then your IMEI number to 32053;

Step 3: You will receive an SMS that tells if your device has a 12 month warranty valid for Nigeria.

Chuckling, I asked “Do I do this before or after I fork over the cash?”

And not looking the least bit empathetic, she replied with a question of her own “Errm, what do you think?”

Refusing to be goaded into blowing my top, I told her I just wanted to get the phone fixed, warranty be damned.

Well, if I thought I was too seasoned to be surprised, I had another think coming. “Sorry, but we do not have parts for that model.”


“We discontinued making that model a while back. To be honest, that handset was out of warranty at the time you bought it.”

Now I had an “O” where my mouth should have been.

My verdict: This is one way consumers get shafted by service providers. What is more, they do not even bother to use vaseline, and in the words of Fela! “Na from back ee o!”

So it’s Computer Village and pre-owned/Second hand/Tokunbo handsets for me. At least there I know what I am up against – no dreams of warranty, and the only guaranty I get is that it will come on when I push the power button.

PS: There are a lot of humans without conscience. Business and Government are full of people like that, they reel us in and then hump the unsuspecting public. Me, I have taken to walking about with a pack of rubbers.



"Franque is in aviation, which by the way is not his job, just a lifestyle. If he ever kept a diary it would read like his articles will. Unfortunately he doesn't. Scratch that. He didn't.AIRtiquette is a walk in his shoes. Since regular isn't in his vocabulary, brace yourself for a bit of airwalking!" Follow @franque_521 on twitter.


  1. I will only say one sentence…my phone has been in SLOT being “fixed” for d past 5 months #thatisall

    Ps: yes its a Nokia phone

    Pps: First!!! N I ended up saying more dan one sentence #okbye

  2. Wen I 1st saw d title,iThot it was an acronym of something or even worse, sumting naughty *clears throat* (get my drift).
    As for gettin shafted by so called service providers,oh my,u really dnt want 2get me started wiv my experiences,it’d be twice ur article for a comment. Not only do they hump us unmercifully “from back yeeee witout vaseline” they expected you to count urself lucky 2have been shafted by them & for U to take a bow in appreciation to say “Thanks for the hump,I await d next time” Mscheeeeeeeeeew,customer service isn’t dead in Nig,it has 2have been alive for it 2b pronounced dead,if ever it was born,it musta been a stillbirth.

  3. Good mornin family, how has the work week been? It’s Friday again n y’all can unwind. Me? Off to Dakar later tonyt.
    @ Uk: Congrats on being 1st;
    @ Kay: Mehn iSmell a SLOT/Nokia conspiracy…
    @ Everyone_Else: Next week is goin to be DUEts week. But b4 that, there’ll be anoda post up 2moro. Very short, but very important to me. See u then.

  4. This story is so sad. There’s no consumer protection laws against this kinda rubbish. And to think dat he went to slot cos he tot he’d be gettin better quality and a good warranty.
    Everyone tries to shaft the masses, let’s not get startd on gsm networks…
    Its terrible

  5. I had a similar experience with my Nokia N70 in 2009. Bought it from Slot and Nokia Service Center said some brouhaha like they told you.
    We take a lot of Shit from Service Providers in this country and justice is not served, not even when the Judiciary is in turmoil!!!

  6. Another important issue to be discussed is our GSM service providers,they are all criminals,a friend that stays in ketu cant use his bb at home,not to talk of how poor their customer service pple can be when u call,most of them now run Casinos in the name of Promo,apart from registration of Sim cards i wonder what NCC is doing for the nigerians

  7. I’m sure every Nigerian wud hv a story wen it cumz to being screwed by one customer service provider or d oda. I fink mayb if we began to actually do sumfin abt it, like filing law suits, these companies wud sit up. *now pulling out nd dusting my law degree* .. Off to sue MTN 😀

  8. @deevagal we do have consumer protection laws, problem is we lack the awareness and sometimes capacity. How many people want to go through the hassle of the law to get justice? It would take somebody with both the capacity, time and awareness to challenge this up until the highest court to get a locus classicus so others can follow.

    As we speak, there’s also an ongoing Unfair Contracts Bill in the House of Assembly, once that is passed it will boost things, however, the ultimate and practical question is “Who will bail the cat?” The laws might be in place buh we need just one celebrated case to create the awareness and send a message to all involved.

    P.S: Frank holla once you touchdown Asap please. Thanks.

  9. @ Mateelly: some of us try to provide value-for-money customer service o. #NoStillborns;
    @ Deevagal: ICT or whatever-call providers are next in my sight. iHav stories to tell;
    @ MaBiJo: Again, SLOT/Nokia connivins;
    @ Mike: U will hav ur say. We will all hav our say on these pages;
    @ Miz_Parker n Chicasa: hmmmmm… Lawyer-2-Lawyer tinz.

  10. I’ve suffered this in the hands of SLOT, unfortunately I still buy from them. Its sad what we have to go through in the hands of consumer service providers inspite of the consumer protection laws we have. Oh well, I’ll just be like u & walk around with rubbers incase they try to shaft me which they always do.

  11. I can imagine. What a sham! It’s such a shame that service providers of any kind cower behind these ridiculous ‘rules’ which they don’t even reveal and unsuspecting consumers fall prey…oh how could I have forgotten, they have no sense of servitude and absolutely no conscience. Tis all bout makin’ money and the consumers parting away with their money and valuable time. Oh, it’s Nigeria where we don’t even a functioning agency to help keep these guys on check. Wow! Nice one Sir! God bless!

  12. @ Chychy: Unless u want to buy eba in handset casin, or battery without ‘engine’, u havta stick to SLOT or another variation of SLOT. Sad much *le sigh*;
    @ Teeonair: What slays me is they come up with these ‘guides’ after the fact! U ever seen any of those run with a “Nokia, connectin ppl” ad?
    @ Neefemi: U can say dat again…and again…and again… U get the picture;
    @ Nena: Yes o! We gotta bag n tag or label stuff. yNot “pre-owned” fones – where the ghost of sed BB for example, doesn’t kno it’s parted ways with the original owner n u r still gettin contact requests from ppl u don’t kno – usually from Jand or Yankee.

  13. If I write abt wat customer care has done 2 me I wld prolly write a txtbuk so no comment. But @mateelly *stillbirth* lwkmd. Av a nice wknd franque 😀

  14. Franque,u mean u just said “o” n let d mata b? Dats so unlike u,u shld have given dem a piece of ur mind,not dat it would have helped,well we hope tins will get better someday,I tink we shld start fighting 4 our right sha!

  15. Sigh!
    The problem is never lack of laws, but the enforcement…
    I’m surprised no one has said anything about the airline industry. The other day, my mum left P.H for Lagos at 2am on what was supposed to be a 4pm flight. I hv been forbidden from booking Air Nigeria for her cuz of (in her words) their ‘crappy’ service (sorry Franque, lol)…
    Thanks for this info, once upon a time, it would have gone down my book of useless info, but lest I be like Bako, I will learn the tricks of the trade
    And in Nokia’s defence, iv heard this ad (the IMEI one) on radio before…
    Phew, sorry for the length, its good to be back 😀
    Ps. Safe trip Franque

  16. Coz, though we have talked about many things, I don’t think we have ever discussed bad customer service in Nigeria. That would be a full day’s conversation. Everything from the tellers who assess you by your dressing before they decide how or when to speak to you, to the government agency service providers who expect you to do half their work for them and have the effrontery to ask you “any better” afterwards. Like I said, a whole day’s conversation.

    Anyhoo, pele at the experience. I guess second hand na di way.

  17. @ basooh: We all hav our stories o;
    @ Smallz: iStill don’t feel tempted to learn francais;
    @ Essi: iGuess fatherhood tempers the tongue and mellows the mind. U sabi me nau;
    @ Nengie: My dear, aviation is a matter for anoda day. We hav all suffered;
    @ M.E.: Someday soon iWill not be too busy to spend an entire day in ur company. On dat day, we will talk about all their silliness.

  18. @ basooh: We all hav our stories o, what remains is tellin them;
    @ Smallz: iAm still not tempted to learn this francais :D;
    @ Essi: iGuess fatherhood has really mellowed me, or maybe it’s age. U sabi me before nau:
    @ Nengie: We will deal with them one by one my dear;
    @ M.E.: We will talk this talk coz, we will

  19. It’s been said before, and will continue to be said, but customer service in Nigeria is ridiculous! The most frustrating thing is even in ‘better than the rest but still less than average places’ we’re expected to be grateful. Your poor friend.

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