By Daniels Ekugo
When Fero Mobile Devices thought of investing in the Nigerian telecommunication market, they did it in a big way.
Fero hit the headlines then with apt introduction to its products. A telecommunication writer once described the Fero mobile as one of the fastest growing smartphone brand in Nigeria, integrated with soft and trending features.
During one of the unveilings in Lagos, Nigeria, Phinoze Seth, Director, Fero Mobile Nigeria and Emerging Markets said “We have put up so much quality and class into this device (Royale Y2) to ensure the expectations of the tech savvy Nigerian youth.”
But the celebration for the Fero brand seemed to have been abruptly put on hold as loads of criticisms and controversies trailed its marketing and servicing centres.
At a time, a research conducted by Counterpoint’s Market search indicated that global smartphone shipments last year 2018 declined by 3% while brands like Nokia, itel, Tecno, Xiaomi led the charts in the fastest growing mobile phone category with the largest smartphone shipment and share.
The fact is itel Mobile steals the spotlight especially when it comes to budget department. The company does an exceptional job in making smartphones for everyone by putting out phones with good quality, reliability, trendiness and performance at an affordable price point.
The Nigerian consumers who couldn’t fathom Fero’s unreliability soon changed brand. In an interactive session with most consumers inside the popular Computer Village in Lagos state, Nigeria will attest to the gradual death of Fero mobile devices in Nigeria.
An ardent lover of Fero mobiles, Mr Jaiye Solomon residing in College road, Ogba, Lgos, he simply didn’t struggle with words “I am planning to buy a Fero Royale X2, but am scared because 50k no be beans too, after hearing all that goes in on Fero’s service centre here in computer village, I am changing my priority now.”
TheNEWS took a visit to the service centre at No 16 Awolowo Way last Saturday but was informed the service doesn’t operate on Saturdays, but information gathered within was not encouraging.
Mr Amanze Bobby, stays in Lekki, Phase 1 and came to check how to fix his Fero phone but it went from bad to worse. “ I had some issues with my Fero. Firstly the contacts just disappears both on the call log in the phonebook, secondly it hangs, even though I have uninstalled applications on the phone. Lastly I discovered that my phone couldn’t come on even though I plugged the charger, it just gave the charging signal but it refused to come on. I came to this service centre and now for 4 good weeks, it seems they cant even understand the phone, they keep telling me to give them 2 more weeks.”
With myriads of complaints within the complex housing Fero’s service centre, TheNews, went further to consult most engineers around to get more accurate information.
According to Mr Lewis Achuba, plying his trade within the computer village, he opines that the killer spot of Fero is “it’s inability to stock spare parts. Inability of it’s engineering to team to fix its brand and the worst is replacement of its screen. “Let me tell you the truth, Fero’s service centre is like a camel passing through the eye of the needle of the biblical days. I have many customers from Fero. They are tired of endless excuses.
“The first time I will hear this was last year when a customer bought their product. I didn’t scold him, I had my reservations. That Fero product was an epileptic phone – battery didn’t last, always hot etc.
“It was returned to their office, he was told stories and was asked to drop it for repairs or add 15k to collect a new phone. He did the latter but only to go back this year after two months and was told it wasn’t ready. Let me add here, that the customer service is very poor. They deliberately keep guessing and referring you back and forth.
“With his experience, telling my enemy to give Fero a chance will be a mistake unless they can up their game and make a better brand.”
But the most depressing came from a lady, simple identified as Lady Gee. “Fero is equal to thrash. Very poor customer care service. Bad product, bad result. If you are buying Fero, it is at your own risk. I would have put the number of the customer care lady there but no, maybe another day. You can’t give what you don’t have.”
At a number of shops that TheNews visited inside the Computer Village, it was only Fero Mobile devices that hasn’t for a long period of time unveiled any new product to the Nigerian market, and why it took so long, is something its customers and critics alike are pondering.
Mr Femi Akiyosotu, a indigene of Ondo state, marketing various mobile phones in Computer Village, “my brother, I cant vouch for this Fero that you are disturbing yourself with (sic). Every retailer now no longer see them as a force to reckon with. You see, there are loads of problems attached with Fero, from screen, to lock, to battery, everything, so it is a 50-50 bargain but me in this plaza, am not selling Fero again. They just came in to bastardize the market.
“Why don’t you make your research again, do you know that as we speak now, most top Nigerian staff have left to join other mobile device company? Do you also know that Fero office has secretly been moved out of its Adeniyi Jones office to Gods-know-where? They don’t. bring in spares, no new phones and all. And the latest that is coming up is that they had a bad deal with a big and bold phone company in Nigeria, amounting to millions of naira and it is killing them softly.”
“Fero is losing ground to Xiamomi, Huawei and other Chinese rivals in the Nigerian markers,” says Kingsley Madubuko, Executive Director, Strategic Analysis Nigeria. “Fero must solve its Nigeria before it is too late.”
At the time of writing this report, TheNews made a call to its marketing manager Mr Ratnesh Prassad, followed with a text message on the above complaints and outcry, but Mr Ratnesh declined the call and hasn’t responded to the text messages sent.