Consumers and mobile phones

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The Consumers’ assembly team has had to highlight what it considers critical considerations in evaluating the contribution of innovation in critical consumer product sectors, with special focus on the immediate character of disruption, at several forums. Our position has always been that change, and especially with technological advancement, must be carefully engaged because with its attractiveness comes natural negatives, some of which could be life-threatening.

It is in same vein we have been considering the areas of possible concern in the innovative technological offering of the mobile phones (and the evolution of ‘smart phones’) and consumers’ experience. Our worry is in the main, propelled by the profile of consumers in this market, especially in the area of literacy and attitude.

Almost to the point of profligacy, and indeed in expression of our nature of abundance, we accommodated the innovativeness of mobile telephony in its entirety, without the reciprocity of collaborative engagement as consumers. Consumer nature with us is studded with certain level of such irresponsibility that questions our carefulness. So, we just consume. In the about 17 years of our experiencing the technological wonder of mobile telephone offering in its entirety, in totality of its hard and software components, every aspect of its value offering and proposition has been wholly consumed, resulting in the astronomical growth in its commercial derivatives. Equipment, application sad n other software market in Nigeria, grows fastest among peer-markets. It has even stretched to challenge market growth rate of technologically advanced markets. Asians from every corner of the globe are represented in this market for its size and growth rate.

Good as market growth should be, we are concerned with CONSUMERS’ well bring. As mentioned above, our consumption pattern and rate is unmindful of our responsibilities to know, and engage the offerings safely. And that is our concern. So in the interest of CONSUMERS we sat with the representatives of Gionee Communication Equipment Co., Limited’s brand management team, Mr. Somoye Habeeb, Marketing Manager, and Mrs. Aderonke Odukoya, Corporate Marketing Supervisor, to identify those areas of interest to the consumer, especially on the entirety of applicability, commercial guide and health safety. As consumers, owe plenty as our responsibility for careful engagement to protect against compromises in commercial terms and healthy application, with specific focus on mobile phones.

However, we like to state that there as evident regulatory compromise on the part of mobile phone equipment market operators, in regard to consumer information. From the issue of warranty through brand-specific value proposition & offering, to after-sales-service, majority of mobile phones are not keeping with their responsibility of gathering, processing and disseminating information in the proper manner and nature that should safely guide the consumer in his/her buying decision-making, and adequately inform the prospective buyer of the attendant rights and responsibility towards good and safe use of the phones.

Brand owners will push scanty reservoir of sales agents at point of sales, as being charged with the responsibility of consumer orientation, but we know no brand representative will tell truths that are damaging and antithetic to sales actualization. So that channel of consumer information cannot be said to be appropriate. As established by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) brands must engage in adequately informing the market of its offering so much so adequately sufficient to help or guide the consumer in making the buying decision, And by our peculiar nature in this market, such information must be in ample use of visual and text materials. And that is where the good use of communications consultants comes in; mobile (smart) phone brands must engage advertising agencies most adequately to tell their brand’s stories in the most useful and appropriate way that will serve consumers’ purpose.

From our interaction with the duo of Mr. Habeeb and Mrs. Odukoya, we derived the following as guide for the consumer:
Purchase decision: in the face of evident sophistication in brand offerings mobile phones are broadly categorized in the classes of gadgets and fashion accessories. Whereas offerings designed to support vital daily application with functional implication on business, relationship (family & social) management, bank and non-bank financial transactions come as gadgets, thatequipment designed to facilitate fashion values are principally designed to serve as such. Gadgets come with more of functional design and application, compromising on the fashion considerations of sleekness, beautiful appearance and handling, Gadget phones come with heavier duty batteries and applications that tend to make them heavier and less trendy in appearance. But they are more reliable for functionality and dependability.

Both are good and efficient in delivering on set-purposes, but the consumer must determine his/her over-riding priorities before investing in the purchase Warranty: as they say, the details can be delicate. Warranty is exclusive to factory damages. After sales damages such as broken screen, scratches and damages to charging systems and cords may not be accommodated in the warranty application because the manufacturer assumes such damages are consequent upon the user’s carelessness.

Charging method: Consumers must be careful in charging their phones. In their complicated nature, telephone equipmentis delicate to electricity, especially the source of power. It is safest to charge your phones on conventional electricity power source, as against the use of generating sets. If you must use the generating set, ensure it is one that functions optimally, devoid of fluctuations, and sudden outage. Such unsteady power source can damage the charging cable or the charging port inside the phone, in most cases.

After-Sales & Accessories: Whereas after-sales as a trade support infrastructer reassures, the extent of its engagement is statement of either product quality assurance or a warning sign to consumers. Experts say if as a consumer, you notice the after-sales service centre of any given brand is excessively busy, be guided to know that that brand is problematic. According to Mr. Habeeb, if you decide to buy such brand, you are likely to join the queue of waiting complainants soon after.

On aaccesory, consumers should pay particualer attention to source of purchase. Be sure to purchase your needs at own-brand outlets because you are likely to buy a compromised quality outside branded outlets. Finally, pay particular attention to the charging cable that comes with the phone because outside that, and as a result of compromises, the replacement may not be as reliable and efficient.

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