Fake phone owners promised compensation, but there’s a catch

Kenya’s government yesterday said it would compensate fake phone owners whose handsets will be switched off later this month.

This is a new twist after the government had adamantly stated it would not compensate mobile users who will find their handsets switched off.

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has been in the frontline fighting for the rights of consumers as the switch off day looms. The push seems to have swayed the government on the side of consumers.

The is a catch however. To secure a refund, users have to produce an original receipt, return the fake phone to the vendor. The vendor will afterwards ask for a refund from the government, according to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr. Bitange Ndemo.

The government will trace the process of how the phone was imported by the dealers and if in fact it is established the phone was imported irregularly, then there would be no refund, said the PS during an interview with Citizen TV.

“The reason you have Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), is to ensure that you can actually trace these things [back] to source,” Dr. Bitange said.

“If you bought and you have a receipt, you should take us to the shop that you bought it from and that shop must prove that they did go through the formal processes of importation in this country,” he added.

This new development cast a shadow on how many vendors will be willing to go through the process and why it has taken government so long to give a way forward on compensation.

The secretary general of Cofek insists that the major switch off that is expected on September 30 should not burden the consumer.

The fake phones switch off plans is expected to affect close to 3 million subscribers on various networks. The buck still stops at the government to make sure that fake phones are not allowed in the market.

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