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Quack phones repairers fleecing unsuspecting Nigerians

Daily, numerous quacks throw open their shops from where they defraud unsuspecting members of the public, who wonder their way in search of solutions to their problematic mobile phones.

Posturing as certified personnel, most of these so-called phone repairers are barely skilled as far as phone repairs is concerned, having never been formally trained in the profession or certified by any competent body. But how they still continue to fleece innocent members of the public of their hard-earned money year-in, year-out, through their trial and error approach, still remains a big mystery.

Expectedly, those that have had their mobile handsets compromised, or destroyed by these quacks always end up blaming themselves for straying, and there ends the matter. In other words, not many have bothered to take steps to find out how qualified these “phones repairers” are in spite of the fact that they are scattered all over the country.

The Ikeja technology hub, better known as Computer Village, in Lagos State appears to be the location, where the greatest number quack phone repairers operate from.

Precious Ibe, a phone technician, who admits that not many who claim to be phone repairers are actually trained, especially to handle highly sophisticated phones, added that quacks employ a lot of gimmicks in the discharge of their assignments.

He added that the very few good hands in the system were too occupied, and this development gives room for quacks to also burgeon in the system, especially given the fact that service charge in most repair stations are on the high side.

Ibe also added that once untrained hands fiddle with some of the smartphones in circulation, some applications in them begin to malfunction thereby affecting other aspects like the camera, the screen function, internal memory, speaker, key pad and other parts.

Ibe who disclosed that he fixes up to 100 mobile phones monthly, added that once a user discovers that some applications in his mobile phone have started malfunctioning, it is best to do away with such device, instead of spending scarce resources attempting to get them sorted out.

According to him, most of these cloned phones are in circulation are like use-and-throwaway items, but some people after buying them, spend large sums of money on trying to fix them repairing them, thinking the fault could be from any of the components when it starts misbehaving. But that is really not so, as the components have very short lifespan.

Ibe who also lamented the manner in which cloned mobile phones have flooded the Nigerian phone market, tasked Nigerians to watch out for these fake phones.

Some common qualities of cloned phones, he said are poor picture quality, very short battery life lifespan, connectivity issues, and fragile hardware among others.

He noted that Nigerians, especially those who reside in rural areas where ICT knowledge is very low were prone to buying these cloned products.

One of those that have tasted the bitter pills, which these so-called phone repairers offer is Alaba Anjorin, a businesswoman.
Anjorin maintained that most of these fake service providers, who adopt no other approach to work other than trial and error, resort to giving excuses whenever their ineptitude is discovered.

She added that the glaring lack of basic knowledge of the workings of mobile phones, in some cases, cause them to complicate matters when they get to their wits’ end.

She therefore cautioned mobile phone owners whose devices are malfunctioning against subscribing to the services of roadside repairers, but to rather visit dealers’ workshops, or authorised service stations to get their issues sorted out.

On how much Nigerians were losing to these quacks, Manager, Micro-Station, Ikeja, Tunde Onayemi, said that it would be difficult to approximate such owing to lack of accurate data.

He, however, noted that Nigerians were losing huge sums of money, which would surely run into hundreds of millions of naira. Since a lot of money is invested on buying most of these smart phones, Onayemi advised that buyers should always purchase their devices from recognised dealers, stressing that in doing so, they do not only enjoy warranty for at least a year, but are also dealing with outfits that boast qualified service personnel.

According to Tayo Ajire, a second hand phone dealer, a phone repairer can seldom be out of business because of the service he offers, which is in high demand.

Ajire also buys used or faulty phones from their owners, fixes, and resells them to unsuspecting buyers, who may end up needing further repairs on these devices sooner or later.

Obviously not bothered about how much Nigerians are losing from buying or repairing their faulty mobile handsets, Ajire noted that it is the responsibility of every buyer to verify the state of the used phone he/she is purchasing, and not depend on what he/she is being told by the seller.

On if the much-talked about London-used mobile phones were better choices to make in comparison with cloned on locally used phones, Ahmed Lasisi, a phone dealer said, “there is noting as good as buying a new mobile phone. A London used phone must have developed one fault or the other, which made the last owner to discard of it,” adding that such phones drain buyers’ purses, as some adjustments still need to be done before anyone can use them in the country.

Lasisi stressed that one of the best ways that the country can reduce the huge amount spent on phone repairs is by either assembling these phones locally, or partnering with major companies to manufacture them in the country.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO), Computers and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria, Computer Village, Ikeja, Daud Sholagbade Ademola Olaifa, said that Nigerians are losing huge sums of money on phone repairs, especially fake phones because quacks apart from damaging these phones, also defraud their owners of their money.

“Every product has service warranty. Some manufacturers give a year or two years warranty on their products, but most importantly, buyers should ask manufacturers for the licensed product engineering centres incase they have need for repairs.”

An Owerri-based phone technician, Charles Ahamefula, on his part said quacks would continue to be around for a long time because of the way that the market is structured, which is detrimental to the end users.

“There are different grades and types of phone in the market, with different internal working systems,” he explained. “Phone companies only train their service staff to handle the type and grade of phones they produce/sell. Since no particular grade, or type of phone dominates the market, some of these technicians, when they leave the parent companies, set up their shops to service all types of phones. But this is not healthy to the sector.

He continued: “So, while these technicians get right with some phones, using the knowledge acquired from their former places of work, they fail to achieve the goal in other cases.”

Ahamefula observed that the loss in this regard should not be quantified in monetary terms alone, as there are documents and pieces of information that can never be retrieved, once the internal memory of a mobile phone has been tampered with.

The president, Phone and Allied Products Dealers Association (PAPDA), Ikeja, Lagos, Ifeanyi Sam Akubue, in his submission said that Nigerians were losing hundreds of millions of naira yearly to quack phone repairers, “and the only way to check this is for phone owners to always go to registered repairers whenever their phones develop faults. They should desist from patronising quacks,” he said.

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