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THE MULTIPLE CURSES OF DEREGULATION FOR THE HAPLESS CONSUMER

03-14-2014, 00:31 AM
Mamoun Hussein Shariffe
<aMamoun Hussein Shariffe
Registered: 03-14-2014
Total Posts: 1






THE MULTIPLE CURSES OF DEREGULATION FOR THE HAPLESS CONSUMER

    Three years ago, I went shopping for a brand new family car at one of the countless companies purporting to be agents for the globally known brand name genuine article; yes, I should have known better-I mean we are in the midst of a maelstrom of sanctions that is ever widening and deepening.
    I got the car from the company depot, after concluding all the paperwork formalities, and took it homeward bound-all swathed in plastic and new car smell. It took a while to peel off all the plastic wrapping from the seats, the mirrors, and the door handles etc. All went well up to here, what with the sense of driving a gorgeous new car, the pride, the joy and all such nonsensical human feelings.
    But reality has a way of hitting one hard at the back of the head, and it did so with accustomed gusto at the first oil change in the company garage. I was in a long line of cars driven by other hapless Sudanese consumers, waiting for my turn to have my car serviced. When my turn came, I disembarked and handed over the keys to the mechanical engineer supervising this particular procedure, and was just about to be directed to the air-conditioned lounge equipped with plasma television screens, when the mechanic, who opened the car hood and took a plastic sheath protecting the radiator off, gasped, and off handedly quibbled that this car had been in a very serious accident.
    My head swam, and I struggled to remind myself that this is no longer the civilized lands of yore, but I am now in the Third tier of the Third World, and alas, I regained some composure after relocating my mind in the here and now. I retraced my steps and moved towards the mechanic who was taken aback by his own unguarded commentary. But he said it, and his supervisor panicked as he struggled to cover the unintended glitch in proceedings. Evidently, it was going to be a long day.
    I asked the mechanic to explain what he meant, over the protestations of the chief engineer , and as a large crowd of staff, and customers who now formed a ring around the car, gathered, no doubt gleefully enjoying the unfolding free drama proceeding in front of their somewhat perplexed eyes.
    I was awestruck, when he patiently explained that as he lifted the rubber covering the radiator, he happened to peek at the front chassis bar, which is known to be the strongest piece of metal in any vehicle worthy of the name, and lo and behold, he found it bent awkwardly inwards, and he could only presume, due to an automobile accident of the more serious kind.
    I had heard enough at that point. I was sold a car that wasn’t even new by world standards; as all the world buys car models that are a year ahead of the calendar, but we in Sudan buy what is to them last year’s car model, and what’s more to the point, this vehicle we bought unawares was what is known as a reconditioned vehicle, in car salesman parlance; and in layman terms, a vehicle that was probably involved in a serious auto accident, probably somewhere in the Arabian Gulf States, and was stuck back together, and given new trimmings to look brand new, and shipped to Sudan to be sold as a brand new car. You and I, the hapless Sudanese, are acquiescing in this sordid scheme by headless consumption from a largely unregulated and chaotic market, where even junk vehicles are sold as brand new; putting the lives of blindsided and hoodwinked Sudanese citizens at grave risk.
    I mustered my pent-up fury, as I was taken to speak with the Indian (yes Indian) sales manager at the spare parts and maintenance division of that respectable company. At that conjuncture I had lost all respect for the said company, as he dithered, twisted and turned the story upside down to deflect blame from his paymasters. He even claimed that I had an accident, and came to them with malice aforethought to defraud and blackmail them into giving me something for free. I assured him I hadn’t the slightest intention of doing that, and besides I had every right to protest, as I have done, and that this matter will go as far as I saw fit that it does.
    I told him to check his inventory for any proof of his allegations that I had an accident; did I buy from him recently nearly all the front spare parts of the vehicle in question to cover up such a serious crash? Knowing that it’s an alleged brand new car we were speaking of, he relented, and softened his stance, and was now attempting to placate me. I said that nothing short of giving me another car would placate me. He pleaded that that was impossible, and if I wanted to take them to court, it would be a lengthy business, and I would in all likelihood loose a fight with the powerful and wealthy of this land, and should be content with a free replacement front chassis bar courtesy of the yours truly company, and free oil change, and he took on his former demeanor, and smiled glibly; like the cat that swallowed the Sudanese consumer canary would.
    What could you say to Garfield the cat here, except to acquiesce like a good Sudanese citizen, and say hosanna to the masters of all trades in this land of ours; and so it was that that matter was settled-until I brought it out to the open, after following a certain article in the Citizen about a consumer rights association, which has my full backing, because it has a long way to go, and is much needed amidst all this chaos.
    It happens to be that vehicles are not the only commodities with which we are robbed blind of our hard earned money in this never land of strange, and even stranger phenomena that seems to be going backwards in time, as the years, and the rest of the world, progress. The other day I took my mother to a respectable appliance store in Bahri’s Baladia Street. She wanted to buy a new refrigerator for our home, as the old one had its freezer compartment punctured with a knife wielded by our Ethiopian maid; who wanted to defrost it, and she is really good at it, because all the liquid ammonia evaporated merrily away through the puncture holes, and we desperately needed a new fridge.
    We browsed through their brand name offerings, the likes of L.G., Coldair, and Liebherr, and chose what was offered as a spanking new Liebherr refrigerator. She bought it, and it was delivered home all wrapped up in the by now ubiquitous opaque plastic sheath wrapping. It took us some time to unwrap it- and of course by that time the delivery guy had already left- and revealed to me was a phantom of what I saw at the showroom in all its glory. In front of me was an old “reconditioned” fridge, together with all the bumps and bruises of long service, probably in South East Asia, or the Gulf, and with some refurbishing that failed to hide the welding and out of place screws, and even a few spots of rust showing through the inexpertly applied paint coating.
    Here we go again, I thought, but my mom took a while to be convinced, but when she came to my point of view, she was furious at first, but then became that conciliatory acquiescent Sudanese consumer, and just said that it was a really cheap shot from what she considered trusty clients from whom she bought all her appliances, and would never buy anything from them again. I can tell you that we sold the car at a loss two years ago, but we still keep the fridge- maybe as a token of the legendary Sudanese good natured disposition exploited by our own kinfolk who are making money out of hapless ordinary people like you and me, by selling them everything from light bulbs that actually explode a few days later, to vehicles, and an assortment of appliances that have been redone to look new, while the Government looks away, probably smiling smugly like a cat that gobbled us all.
                  

Arabic Forum

03-15-2014, 07:28 PM
Abdullah Idrees
<aAbdullah Idrees
Registered: 12-05-2010
Total Posts: 2434






Re: THE MULTIPLE CURSES OF DEREGULATION FOR THE HAPLESS CONSUMER (Re: Mamoun Hussein Shariffe)

    I'm really speechless!, your statement is of course unquestionable, anything could happen in these ugly days >>
    well , I think the " WORLD FOOD BASKET" is persistently turning to be the "WORLD OPEN DUMPSTER" >>
    And me being fully absorbed in furnishing my house from the scratch, I must say thanx Mamoun , you have opened my eyes to a very serious issue that would cost me a lot, if it wasn't for your precious article >>
    Thanx again
                  

Arabic Forum

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