31st August, 2010
A recent survey of the sale of phones in Lagos markets by Consumerâ€™s Advocate shows that Chinese-made phones popularly known as chinko are gradually loosing purchase patronage by buyers.
Chinko phones made in China are believed to be substandard, but are relatively cheap. Their dual sim card capability has also endeared them to most Lagos residents who have multiple phone lines.
About three years ago when it was introduced into the market, dealers of the brand witnessed an unprecedented rise in sale as more buyers preferred it to other brands.
A recent survey by Consumerâ€™s Advocate, however, revealed that patronage of chinko phones is gradually on the decline.
In carrying out the survey, the popular Computer Village Market at the Ikeja GSM Village along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and Alaba International Market, Ojo, wereÂ visited.
At each of the markets, shop owners were asked about the brand of phones that are mostly patronised by buyers. A physical assessment of the number of shops exclusively selling chinko phones was also made. Consumerâ€™s Advocate also interacted with buyers who were seen in the market.
At the Computer Village in Ikeja, it was found that unlike before, when some shops were dedicated mainly to the sale of chinko phones, the trend is now changing. Those who hitherto exclusively sell that brand of phone now combine it with fairly used ones and other popular brands.
Dan Okoro , a phone dealer at the market, offers an explanation: â€œ People are really complaining too much about the durability of the brand. I used to sell only chinko phones before and there was truly a big rush for them. But now, things are changing. I just had to change strategy when I started to notice this and now sell both chinko and other phones.â€
Joe Chibuike, a phone repairer at the market, also gave insight to why sale of chinko phones may suffer a decline purchase in patronage.
â€œ I repair phones and can tell you that the hardest ones to repair are chinko phones. Their parts are usually scarce, in fact, there are some problems that we canâ€™t just fix. Once the phone is bad, be rest assured that it will continue to give problem after the first repair,â€ he stated.
He added that if the manufacturers start to import the parts, maybe more people will begin to have confidence in them.
At the GSM Village along Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, Consumerâ€™s Advocateâ€™s finding was also similar to the trend in other markets. A shop owner in the market, Tunde Adeleye, admitted the decline but attributed it to the poor state of the economy.
â€œIt is not about whether chinko phones are substandard or not, the truth is that the economy is bad and sale generally is not booming the way it used to be. Yes, chinko phones are very low in quality but people are still buying it. I sell everyday,â€ he expressed.
A physical analysis of shops in the market showed that there are very few shops that exclusively sell chinko phones. The owner of one of the shops who refused to disclose his name, told Consumerâ€™s Advocate that it is not true that patronage of chinko phones has declined.Â Our reporter, however, noticed that throughout the over 30 minutes he was with the shop owner, no single customer walked into his shop.
A dealer of Nokia phones, Emma Ndudi, gave an insight into why the trend may continue.
â€œNigerians are just waking up. Aside from the dual sim function that the phones offer, it is pure rubbish. The batteries are bad, once they drop on the ground, that is the end. Nokia and other brands now have low price quality phones, so people have better option. I must tell you that people are getting wiser,â€ he said.