An undetermined number of Barbadians who purchased mobile phones from local retailers could discover later that their devices were reported stolen in the United States, one store owner has said.
Last week a customer of Electronics On Edge claimed the store had sold him a stolen phone.
In defending his company’s reputation store owner Vijay Lalwani placed responsibility for “any mistake made” squarely at the feet of his supplier in the United States.
And he warned that the supplier responsible for delivering that particular phone to Electronics On Edge also distributes to at least four other local businesses.
This, he said, meant the possibility existed that other customers might also find themselves in a similar position.
“People should be aware that if they have bought network stock from other companies in Barbados, it is likely from the same supplier,” Lalwani told Barbados TODAY without disclosing the names of the businesses.
It was last Friday that Barbados TODAY reported that a Barbadian male, after purchasing what he thought was a new cellphone from the popular electronics store, discovered during a recent trip to the US that the phone had actually been reported stolen to American carrier T-Mobile.
The St James resident said when the phone failed to work after he inserted a SIM card, he called a T-Mobile outlet to report the problem and received the shocking news that it had been reported stolen.
“The T-Mobile agent asked me for the phone’s IMEI [International Mobile Station Equipment Identity] number and the SIM card number which my friend had given to me. The agent then returned and told me that phone was reported stolen to T-Mobile since January 30, 2015.
“I was asking her if she was 100 per cent sure and she told me, ‘yes, the IMEI number which you gave me has been reported stolen, hence the reason you cannot get any network service on the phone because T-Mobile has blocked all network access once it’s in US airspace,’” he said.
However, Electronics On Edge owner Lalwani stoutly defended his company, telling Barbados TODAY he ran a clean and honest business.
He indicated that while his investigations still had not produced any evidence up to this point that the phone had indeed been stolen, his company would take precautionary measures to ensure nothing of the sort ever happened again.
“We will no longer be selling network stock anymore. It’s just going to be everything direct from the respective distributors with full one-year warranties,” Lalwani revealed.
He also revealed that his company was considering severing all ties with the supplier and claiming for damages and compensation.
Lalwani said after he read the Barbados TODAY article he made two phone calls to T-Mobile the following day and was told the US carrier had no record of that cellphone’s IMEI number.
He played two recordings in which someone believed to be a T-Mobile agent was heard saying the IMEI number showed that the phone had not been activated.
Lalwani said a lot of hard work had gone into building his company and he did not want this to be undone by “one misunderstanding”.
“With this being said, although the fault is [at] the supplier’s end, the liability falls on Electronics On Edge Ltd. We accept that no customer should ever have to pay the price for any issue like this.
“Whatever business you are in with different suppliers, mistakes can happen with many different shipments over the years. This is not something we will take lightly and will be getting to the bottom of this to see what has actually occurred and where the issue arose. We are in discussions with our suppliers to have this resolved as quickly as possible. We will be claiming damages and compensation from the suppliers also,” Lalwani concluded.