So that is how I parted from my Sony Ericsson K 700i . It was last May that the phone was launched with ads of various pop/rock/third grade to first rate artists holding the phone and their moms and sisters pouring over them to let them see the would be daughter-in-law/sister-in-law. Artist in the ad, as told by the teen age son, Hamza, was some Atif, the bandless guy of “jal (water)” with a hit song to his credit in a country of 180 Million and literacy rate less than 20 % with 2/3rd of population living below the poverty line. It was the sixth year of yet another army rule in and we were enjoying the fruits of enlightenment brought to our greedy mouths and ever-hungry stomachs and lustful eyes by our honorable general Pervez Musharraf. Sony Ericsson has a poor market in Pakistan as compared to Nokia. Cellular phones by Nokia sell here and a man (or woman) in the street may not remember the names of all his/her children (average family size is 7) but can’t forget that 3310 and 1100 of Nokia’s Asia models. The 3310 being the magna carta of cell phones users in Pakistan. Anybody venturing to buy a Sony Ericsson is promptly rated as “oh he is out of his mind to buy a phone without a resale value”. Pakistanis are resale conscious people in general. They drive Corolla (Toyota motor company Japan) and Civic (Honda motor company, Japan) and any other car, no matter a Chevy, Hyundai, Saab, Volvo, Morris, Volkswagen or Ford, is unthinkable for their psyche and of course the taste, which is based solely on one parameter of life; sale-resale and value thereof. This tag, ‘for-sale’, has become so popular during the regime of Gen. Ziaul Haq and his ‘spiritual progeny’ Mr. Nawaz Sharif and company who literally changed the very fabric of Pakistan by introducing mass corruption as a ‘legal’ way of life. He bought politicians or if they didn’t agreed, jailed them. His later counterparts didn’t mind killing elected prime ministers and screwing the only constitution which was unanimously approved by an elected government in 1973. This ‘for sale’ phenomenon has now trickled down to the very core of the society and now not only politicians but also everyone is for sale. Hence the negative resale value of Sony Ericsson is one big minus for its sales.I was determined to get K 700i. Being fascinated by its sleek design, a very crisp camera lens and the FM radio and media players with 3gp format. I loved its glow in the dark of my life and when I finally opened the pack with Hamza sitting beside me I gave him a friendly-fatherly look “chup karo” (keep quiet in Urdu) and he kept quiet after shrugging his shoulders quiet loudly. He drove his point home, “fine, go screw yourself” and I thought that it was enough for that evening from a kid I have taken pride in raising. K 700i I had that evening. The retailers sold it for Rs. 15100.00 instead of tag price of Rs. 13,000.00 as the intermediary was a ‘friend’ doing favor to me and thought its his right to keep the extra 2100 bucks for his ‘services’ as a friend. I was still happy to own my set. Only three days ago I had sold a series of my phones, Nokia’s 6600, then Nokia’s 7610 and then again a 3520 and now I was surprising myself with the Nokia’s model numbers as myriad and as varying as the turns my fate has always taken. Fluent I had become with the models and what makes them costly I still wanted my ‘ultimate in mobile technology set’ as claimed in the ads by M/S United Mobiles (pvt.) Pakistan with its head offices in Karachi.
Nightmare called Sony Ericsson has begun. I pealed off the paindu (Urdu for somebody who has rural habits) clear tape from the display that told me that it has so many kilos of colors. The icons got magnified gracefully as I selected them and the internet connectivity was a child’s play as I first configured GPRS and WAP provided by my cell company, UFONE. The other companies like MOBILINK has the worst and most complicated connectivity and most expensive packages for Internet connection, they only survive on number of customers, which I hope is dwindling fast. Incidentally I call it mob-Unlink. First heat wave (it was already June) struck my Sony Ericsson K 700i and me together. When listening to callers or making calls the problem was that I was to hold the phone in one hand and keep it near my ear. Now in Pakistan people can’t move about in open, which is air-conditioned (maybe Sony Ericsson people have that privilege where they designed this phone). When the first few calls were heard / made I noticed a thin mist obliterating the colorful display of the cell phone. By that time I had taken the membership of the Sony Ericsson website as the proud owner of K 700i and got a few themes downloaded and boasted about them to Hamza who kept smiling and telling that wait till your phone screws you. I was waiting and during the wait that mist converted into blobs of watery marks right under the LCD. I was panic struck. Immediately I contacted the Sony website and my “warranty” dealer. The dealer listened to me and told me that this feature is not covered under warranty. I wrote a detailed web mail to the Sony Asia office telling them that this is a manufacturing fault. No replies came. Next to go were the central key and the protective rubbers for the jacks of power and headsets. The rubber covering and seals literally got melted and fell away and the central knob for selecting icons started to get stuck. Zero (0) came next. It refused to enter a zero and I had to push the key harder for a result.
After a few weeks it stopped functioning altogether. And after only two months I was in the middle of nowhere and my fancy, hi-tech K 700i became a perpetual nuisance and a perfect source of mental torture for me. Hamza’s smile gained in all dimensions and this time my own were meek and tantamount to avoidance at best. Sony Ericsson has let down an avid customer as one of the their phones was my favorite K 500i whose star (*) key got stuck for good and there was no replacement even during the warranty period from its esteemed dealers M/S Mobile Zone Ltd. Pakistan, I could neither find a data cable for it through its dealers in the local market. The expensive K 700i, which I bought for Rs. 15000.00 plus, was now a piece of junk. Nobody was going to accept it as piece of junk or art. Antiquity, yes I could have waited till next century to claim that value but Sony Ericsson’s warranty is so lousy and there was no chance they could give a warranty for another century of life. With the LCD darkened by perspiration and the central selection knob and three other keys out of order I started wondering how to get rid of this set. A male nurse was married in the hospital I work in. His wife was not well in another city and he was real worried. I offered him my cell phone, which he gratefully accepted even though I told him that it’s not the heartthrob model’s phone anymore. Incidentally Sony Ericsson guys didn’t play that ad either in which Atif of JAL made his ad mom and sister pour over him to see the marvelous machine called K 700i. Thus ended a sad and agonizing story of a famous model from a multinational firm which not only shows how a user un-friendly product can be launched but also how easy it is for big names like SONY ERICSSON to get away with the misery it creates for those unfortunates who dare to buy their product. This also reflects the poor and lamentable ethical standards of doing business in Islamic republic of Pakistan. Everyone and every firm can cheat its customers who suffer and pay at the same time. Not a single consumer’s rights protection association is at work even in the present day era of enlightenment.