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.