By Rose Odengo

I am finally calm. I was so angry, I left this morning for an interview, I had my camera, my audio recorder, and my interview questions were ready. I had taken the first matatu to my location; I was walking to the next bus stop about to take my second and final matatu to my destination when I remembered I was to buy a new SD card for my camera.

I was too far from the store I normally buy my cards from, so I walked into a kind of mall, numerous exhibition stalls, and asked the lady in the first store at the entrance if there was any shop in the facility that sold original SD cards. I should have known these are exhibition stalls; most of the stuff they sell is boot leg from China. Well that is what I presume; they may be some stalls with legit products. Something told me to just delete images from my current memory card and keep going. Since that voice wasn’t so loud, I didn’t listen.

I let desperation override my judgment. The lady showed me the brands she had one was recognizable Scandisk. I asked her how much they were she said for a 16GB it was 1500 bob and a 8GB was 1000 bob. When I started to haggle over the price she said for anything cheaper, it would be bootleg. I laughed, “You actually sell fakes?”

It’s one thing to know they do it; it’s another for them to confess it to you out loud. I didn’t have the time to engage further. The price started to put me off, but I ignored the gut feeling. I requested for the 8GB SD card, and negotiated down to 900 bob, I really shouldn’t have.  I thanked her and rushed to the bus stop. I should have checked the card before I left. I did not.

When I got to the location, wrapped up the interview and started taking the shots, I got an error message on my camera that the SD card memory was corrupted. I tried it again in disbelief, same message. I.WAS.PISSED!

I deleted images from the memory card on my camera and wrapped up the shoot well. I got back to the CBD where the shop was. At that time, I felt wronged and deceived and my brain went into “OH! HELL NO!” mode. I was breathing heavily to calm down as I explained my frustration and demonstrated the failure of the SD card which my camera displayed. The attendant goes ahead and blames my camera. “Oh, no, no, no,” I said.

She whipped out a new memory card, same problem, she opened a third, same problem. I looked at her and said, “You sold me a fake SD card…”

“No, these are original, in fact I didn’t have to tell you they were original.” She retorted.

The bile rose in my throat, and I kept tripping over myself trying to articulate, as diplomatically as I could, that she sold me a bad product. She kept defending it. And I said,

“You know what; I am not leaving with any of your SD cards because they don’t work. I am not going to take it just to make you feel good about yourself. You are responsible for the products you sell even if you did not import it yourself or manufacture it…”

“But I didn’t make it…” she interrupted.

I raised my voice livid, “When you sell consumables you need to be aware of return policies, even when you buy a product from a supermarket, you can return and exchange the product and get a refund if the product is faulty. I have done it there. You are no different.”

In the back of my mind, I knew, the general Kenyan logic in this situation would be “I am not Nakumatt or Naivas supermarkets. I am not obliged to refund you,” because that is how irresponsible and disrespectful we are in our business practice. The attendant quickly said no.

“SAY IT ONE MORE TIME! SAY IT!” I thought to myself, this time I was in full seething mode. The hell she wasn’t!

“We need to come to some sort of compromise, you sold me a bad product, and I paid you in full.” I hissed.

“Yeah, but I can’t pay in full. What should we do?”

My Lord, hold me. Hold me.

“Then fine. Provide a percentage refund even if it’s not the full amount.  I can’t leave without my money.”

“50%. She said.”

“Fine! 50%.” It was either I agree or I would be on the 9 O’clock news being charged for a crime.

“How much is 50% of 900 shillings?”

Woman please.

“You do the math!” I barked.

“350 shillings?”

I swear I had choice words for her, but Jehovah God! 9’O’clock news or go home with some cash, choose Rose, choose.

“It’s 450 shillings!”

“450 shillings”, she muttered under her breath as she bent over the counter to pull out a box full of notes.

She counted the money and gave it to me.

“I started to calm down, I bit my tongue and said, “Thank you. I appreciate the refund.”

As I walked away I imagined how many Kenyans lose money like that. They never demand refunds or call out retailers. Then I said to myself, this woman admits to selling contraband electronics, who do I report it to? Consumer Federation of Kenya, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), who? And how do you ensure that she never does sell ever again. Because what she is doing is a crime. But to her it’s the norm.

To my fellow Kenyan brothers and sisters, seriously, we bitch and moan about shite leadership, yet they reflect how crooked and unremorseful we are as a society. We take advantage of each other without even seeing anything wrong in it. SHE CONFESSED TO SELLING FAKE SD CARDS, and didn’t feel any shame. None!

And I also had fault, I didn’t call her out on it or report it. Because, in all truth, I saw it as normal. SHAME ON ME! This woman and I fall under the youth category. But in the small pockets of influence we have we ALL fall short. As much as authorities have a duty to act, as a citizen of this great republic, I need to report the matter. I am taking this as a challenge. Tomorrow; I will call the Consumer Federation of Kenya and KEBS and shut this woman down. She has no right being in business duping Kenyans.