Check the warranty

Recently, a friend asked for my help in buying a mobile phone. My friend is from a small town to the north of Nairobi, and there are few choices where she lives. But here in the city I am spoiled for choice and the handset dealers are a dime a dozen. There is even a street dedicated to electronics, which overflows with handsets of all kinds. My friend sent me some money to make the purchase, trusting that the one I would buy for her would be superior to anything available in her hometown. 

When I entered one of the phone shops, the dealer asked me, “Do you want a genuine or a fake handset?” In fact, right there on the display he had written “genuine” next to some of the handsets. I asked him to show me the difference, and he explained that there were no discernible differences as the counterfeits were perfect. Other shops sold “fake counterfeits,” he said, which have different names and slight differences in the outward look that give them away, but according to him, the counterfeits in his shop were “genuine.” He explained that to know the difference, one has to check the warranty and know where it came from. 

I ended up buying a genuine handset with a warranty that required registration on the official website of the parent company and a confirmation from them. I left with my head reeling from the dealer’s use of words such as “fake counterfeits” and “genuine counterfeits.”

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