Kenya as a country has a big problem. I’m not talking about the kind of political or economic problems you’re thinking of. When it comes to getting the devices and gadgets we truly desire, the furthest we can do is watch their reviews on YouTube and if you have the heart for it, import one from overseas. Otherwise, sourcing for one locally is an extreme sport and I took that leap off the cliff.
Around November of 2017, an unfortunate event rendered me laptop-less amongst other gadgets but the rest were not hard to replace. Since then, I have been in the market looking for a laptop. My search took me to stores such as Saruk, Avechi, Bright Technologies, Ebrahims and many more shops at Jamia Mall, all in Nairobi.
During this search, I realized that there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. A problem that was consistent with all these shops. To better understand the situation, here’s a list of everything broken in the computer retail space in Kenya:
I have no problem with refurbished units, they are a good way for people to get great laptops at a discounted price and more often than not, they serve you well without any issues. The problem is that Kenyan retailers are selling refurbs as “brand new” – especially shops at Jamia Mall.
The sales agent boldly assures you that the laptop on display is brand new, flip it over and there’s a clear sticker indicating that it is a factory refurbished unit. I noticed this with HPs, other brands didn’t indicate whether the unit was a refurb or not. Even worse, the box they get it out of is clearly marked, refurbished unit.
Several shops at Jamia tried to pass a refurb unit as brand new, only two out of the possible 10 that I visited were honest enough to tell me that they had refurbs and not brand new. Unfortunately, Saruk also tried to pull this one on me, I just walked out and never returned.
Like trying to pass a refurb unit as brand new was not bad enough, you should hear the prices that were being quoted. Jamia Mall shops had refurbs going for over 100k, which is plain crazy.
The most expensive shop was Bright Technologies. The prices there were approximately 10k higher than everyone else for the exact same laptop, actually, in some cases, Bright had an older model but their price was still higher than everyone.
Lack of Variety
Actually, HP and Dell were the only brands with variety. Other like Acer and Asus are far from even being visible. Even for HP and Dell, the variety is just better than the rest but not extensive. Getting a 2017 model HP laptop was a problem. Getting the Dell XPS series was also a problem.
Shops such as Avechi have them on their website but they are not in stock, leaving me to wonder why they could not just indicate that in the first place but I guess e-commerce is not for everyone.
Oh, Ebrahim’s Electronics lost its glory a long time ago. The place now looks like a shack, poor service, don’t care employees and I once thought they were the miracle we needed.
Speaking of e-commerce, unless you have no alternative, please don’t buy online from any Kenyan shops. These guys will have laptop A on their website but when you visit their shop, they show you laptop B. They use images off the internet and if you fall for it, your heart will be shattered into a million pieces when you find out the laptop you have in hand looks nothing like what they showed you online. The biggest culprits of this were Bright Technologies and Saruk.
I finally got the laptop I wanted, the irony is I got a new one from a shop at Jamia Mall for a fraction of the price but the problems mentioned above are still there and they need to be addressed. Until we get a reliable computer sales shop, anyone looking to get a new laptop, put on your reflective jacket, some protective gloves and a helmet because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.