The only difference between Yahoo boys and rogue traders in Iweka Road is creativity. While the Yahoo boys update their formats, the rogue traders follow the rule that says: never change a winning formula.
I went to buy a ceiling fan for the library. I knew the make, the place to get it and the price. The cost added N500 to what I budgeted for it.
‘Write me a receipt. I don’t have cash. I will transfer the money.’
‘You will need to test it,’ he said.
I wouldn’t mind but because he said that, I said ok.
‘I don’t have electricity. Please, take it to my neighbor’s shop. He will test it for you.’
I took the fan to the next shop.
Seeing the fan, the neighbor peeped outside as if to know if the seller was within earshot. Confirming that the seller wasn’t near, he mutter: ‘Is this your choice?’
‘Why do you ask?’
‘You would have asked him to give you copper coil. This won’t last more than a month.’
These guys can’t think of something new. 14 years ago, I nearly fell for this sham.
There are good traders in Iweka Road Market, Onitsha. Not every trader is out to take advantage of the buyers.
The Year 2008
In 2008, I went to the same Iweka Road to buy a pressing iron. Philips was the ultimate equipment of the time. I have gone to 2 shops and both insisted that they won’t take a kobo less than 6k. When I met the 3rd guy, he agreed to sell it for 5k. I paid without wasting a second.
‘Follow me,’ he said, ‘let’s go to where we will test it.’
As we walked a few steps into the market, he told me to wait for him. He forgot to lock his safe. He sprinted to his office as I stood in the middle of the market.
From nowhere, one guy appeared. He had a friendly smile on his face and wore a Sunflower shirt. I smiled back.
‘Have you paid for this iron?’
‘Philips. A nice iron. It means you want to iron only shirts.’
‘I don’t understand.’
‘This is not the original Philips. This can’t iron your trousers. Original Philips is scarce in the market. If you see it, it won’t be less than 8k. You will use it forever.’
I wanted to ask more questions, but the guy darted into the crowd. Turning around, I saw the seller.
‘Follow me,’ he said.
I wasn’t going anywhere. ‘Is this the original Philips?’
Still walking ahead, he said: ‘This will serve you. It irons shirts very well. It is what everyone buys these days.’
‘I don’t understand you. What do you mean by ‘it irons shirts very well’?’
‘Shirts. It irons any type of shirt and traditional wears. But can’t iron trousers.’
See me, see wahala. ‘why will I buy an iron for shirts alone?’
‘You didn’t tell me you need something for shirts and trousers.’
‘This is not fair.’
‘Oga, nothing has gone wrong yet. We are still in the market. If you want a superior iron, you just have to add little money.’
‘I want Philips. Original Philips.’
‘Original Philips is 10k.’
‘I will give you 7k.’
Because I have already given him 5,000, I found myself in a fix.
‘I don’t have 9k. I will pay 7,500.’
‘Oga, we are not pricing pepper. If you don’t have the money, you can go with this one. It will serve you. But if you want original Philips, the best I can do for you is to remove 500 from 9k.’
Out of frustration, I shifted my gaze to the side and caught a figure laughing his eyes out. He dodged immediately but wasn’t fast enough. His yellow shirt betrayed him. He was the good Samaritan that revealed the secret to me.
Ha! I was his joke. Onitsha found a worthy clown in the center of the market, and the maga was about to pay.
Acting as if I saw nothing, I said to the seller: ‘I don’t have that amount.’
‘So, what will you do now?’
‘I will go with this one.’
‘You won’t return it later o.’
Without testing it, I started moving away from him.
‘Oga, come.’ The seller trailed me. ‘It is because of you. Bring 8k let me give you the original Philips.’
‘Don’t worry. I will go with this.’
‘How much will you add?’
‘I want to go with this.’
As I said that, someone clamped my hand. It was the Iron seller.
‘Why are you holding me?’
‘Give me my iron and take your money.’
‘Philips is six thousand naira.’
(I am still using that pressing iron till today.)