Friday, 5 March 2010

Want an iFake?

Can you get an Apple iPhone for P400?

You probably think you can’t, at least I hope you do. Nevertheless we got an email from a consumer who was unhappy to have learned the hard way that it wasn’t possible. He went to a fashion store in a shopping centre in Gaborone that was offering the iPhone at a remarkably low price. On the box it said it the phone had iTunes, Youtube, Facebook and internet access. All the store wanted was a P400 down-payment towards a lay-bye purchase.

Already you might be asking yourself why a fashion shop was selling a premium cellphone. Good question. I often wonder why people buy things from certain stores. For instance why do people buy computers from furniture stores? Even in our small community we have specialist computer outlets that will sell you a PC, will give you a decent warranty and will be able to fix it when it goes wrong. Is a furniture store going to be able to do that? No, its not. That’s why, if you have any sense, you’ll only buy a computer from a company that primarily sells computers. We’ve heard from several consumers over the years who have paid the price for buying a computer from the wrong store.

Back to our friend and his iPhone. This store claimed he could buy a genuine iPhone from them with all the fancy features it offers for a bargain price. However, when he started telling his friends how lucky and clever he was to get such a bargain they explained to him that life might not be that simple. I’m guessing that they told him a iPhone costs several thousand Pula, not just a few hundred. I’m guessing that they might have told him that the iPhone was available only through Orange in Botswana (although rumour has it you can get a legitimate unlocked one elsewhere – we’ll let you know if it’s true).

After learning the bad news he went back to the fashion store and asked them to demonstrate that this supposed iPhone could do all the things it said on the box. It couldn’t. Not really surprising as the phone was what the store called a “Chinese iPhone”. Of course there’s nothing wrong with things made in China, I bet everyone reading this owns several Chinese products. My perfectly legitimate, name-brand phone was made in Taiwan and the battery was made in China. No problems there.

However what the store really meant by “Chinese Phone” was “Fake Phone” or “Illegal Phone”. If it said it was an iPhone and it wasn’t really an iPhone then it was a fake, simple as that. Selling fakes is illegal, we all know that.

So what happened next? Well, being rather disappointed to have been conned into buying a fake he asked for his P400 back. Not unreasonably. It wasn’t unreasonable, but it was unsuccessful. The store refused to give him back the money and insisted he take the fake phone. The store manager even refused to give him something else for the P400 he had already paid.

Our friendly consumer was, understandably, angry. He even went as far as saying that he would tell Consumer Watchdog about the situation, about the fake iPhone, about the failure to return a deposit and about the complete contempt the store and it’s management have for basic standards.

So here we are. What do you think we should do next? We could go and visit the store and explain the error of their ways to them I suppose. We could call Consumer Affairs but I suspect all they would do is visit them and explain the error of their ways less persuasively.

We could call the Police I suppose and suggest that the store is selling fake goods. These days the Police are a bit more interested in this sort of offence so its possible they’ll do something although this is hardly the crime of the century. The Police have rapes and murders to investigate and the occasional fake phone inevitably comes lower down the list.

We could talk to the government people whose job it is to think about copyright but again those wheels turn extremely slowly. It’s not going to force the store to do anything this decade.

I think we’ll get in touch with the store and by the time you read this we’ll know whether they have done the right thing. But here’s my idea. What do YOU think we should do? Do you think we should call the Police? Should we call Consumer Protection? Or perhaps we should just tell you the name of the store so you can avoid them? Get in touch and let us know what you think.


Still no legal action from the fake University of SouthCentral Los Angeles despite their ludicrous threat some months ago. Nothing more from the fake Bizz Awards and their scamming ways. Still no significant feedback from Prokard about their seemingly deceptive ways of gathering customers.

We’ve more evidence about the scammers calling themselves Dalberto Sponsors, this time we’ve conclusive proof that the pictures they claim show their staff members are, in fact, stolen from other web sites.

We’re working hard on another few travel scams so scammers should be careful. We know your names and in some cases we even have your bank account numbers so be warned!

No comments: