Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza, a place where you can buy a phone but can only confirm it’s yours when you’re safely with it at home. Then again, you might indeed reach home with it but there is a 90% chance that it’s fake. This building is known by many as the capital of stolen phones in Kampala.
Ask me why and I will refer you to check in with local police posts around the area. 75% of cases they record in a day are mostly reports of stolen electronic devices; phones, iPads among others.
The police has raided this plaza countless times and confiscated property deemed stolen or fake. Arrests are made every now and then, but of course the culprits get out. It seems, though, that old habits die hard on the plaza that was once Kampala’s leading source of household electronics.
Any lucrative business is bound to attract characters who wish to reap where they did not sow. Criminal behaviour in the consumer electronics business at Mutaasa Kafeero has evolved from simple tricks by con-artists to outright violence, as one recent case shows.
How it all unfolded;
Two electronics traders from a shop located on the Plaza are facing assault charges for allegedly beating up a customer who had demanded a refund of money she had paid for a smartphone.
Sharon Ayebale is among many Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza victims. She went into town one weekend, hoping to buy a smartphone she had seen on social media and for which she had been saving. She got into the shop, found the Phone she wanted, negotiated the price and paid.
Excited, Sharon went home and showed the brand new phone to her brother who immediately identified the phone as fake. She had paid UGX920,000 for the device. The next day she went back to the plaza with her receipt. That’s when drama started. She demanded a refund of her money.
“We argued and I also told them they were being dishonest. They refused to refund my money,” says Sharon. In the end, she was forced to exit with a few slaps on the back of her head.
Sharon wishes she had gone to a certified Samsung brand dealership to buy the phone. “You can’t negotiate prices in a brand dealership but at least you don’t get conned,” she says.
The latest criminal case involving Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza traders has encouraged many people to speak up online. The stories include being forced to take an inferior item after paying for a high quality brand, being falsely accused of breaking an item in the shop, and being forced to pay for accessories that should be free.
A common trick is to switch items during packaging. The consumer gets home to find either a broken electronic item or something of inferior quality. Some people have claimed they were threatened with violence for returning defective items to the shops.
How to avoid this stress
Philbert, an IT expert in Kampala, says he prefers buying electronics from brand dealerships to avoid getting conned. “Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza has been like that for many years,” he says.
Other stress-free sources of electronics include credible e-commerce websites, but one has to watch out for fake sites operating on social media.
All in all, consumers should have realistic expectations of what they can afford. It is best to check around to get an average price for the desired item. If you find a shop where the price is too low, it’s probably not the real price for the item.
So, the next time you go shopping for electronics, just stay away from Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza. It’s better to spend just a little bit more on a genuine product than completely lose your money to conmen or even get assaulted.
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