I was at my friends place in South London over the weekend. She was having a small party for her husband so I went over to help her prepare some of those delicacies that we Calabar ladies are notoriously known for. Yes, you got it right - Afang Soup, loads of Edikang Ikong as well as other essential party ‘mede medes’. She lives on the other side of town so I took the Victoria line accross Zone 1 down to Brixton which was the nearest tube station to her home from where I would take a bus down to her crib.
Down in Brixton, I decided to buy some fonecards so I could call my folks back home. There was this guy who has a small stall 3 or 4 shops away from the station in front of a mobile fone shop from where he sells different varieties of Cards. Those of you in the UK know that the fonecard market is quite diverse – African Fonecards, European Fonecards, Asian Fonecards amongst others. The African ones are numerous and include amongst others: Nigeria Tel, Call Mama, Home Talk, Planet Talk, African Talk, Easy Talk Africa, Uni Talk amongst others and new ones keep popping up daily!! A £5 card should give you about 30 minutes airtime to any Nigerian mobile and about 60 minutes to a Nigerian landline. Anyway, I bought ‘Nigeria Tel’ - 3 for £9 which was a good bargain, paid for the cards and stuffed them in my bag. The bus came along and I jumped on it. I have heard so many notorious and unpalatable stories about Brixton (Drugs, Stealing, Mugging, selling fake or stolen things at ridiculously cheap prices on the streets and all what not) and treated each male with suspicion just in case they decided to make me a ‘victim’. (My apologies to those of you who live or hang out in Brixton but they say anything is possible in Brixton and certainly there is no smoke without fire?)
We prepared all the ‘orishirishi’ for the ‘DO’ and received nice compliments from their guests who said our food was scrumptious. It was just this evening that I whipped out my cards as it was time to call the folks back home. Ok, I brought out my fonecards, scratched it and proceeded to dial the Access Numbers at the back of the card. Infact, the speed & furore I used to scratch that card, if it had been an MTN card, the pin number would have been erased completely. LOL!! those of u who have at one time or the other bought and scratched MTN cards know what I'm talking about! If you dont scratch MTN cards delicately, you will scratch out the pin numbers as well and the visibility of the pin numbers will be seriously impaired!!
Back to my story........ Card scratched successfully, I can see the 12 digit pin number clearly.
The voice on the card prompts: ‘Please enter your 12 digit pin number’. I key in the pin number. Pin number entered and the next prompt I expected to hear was ‘You have £5 on your card, please enter the destination number you wish to dial’ .....
What I heard next baffled me. Infact, If I had not bought the card myself – brand new, unused or if I had not scratched it myself, I would have said maybe someone was playing tricks on me. But alas I bought the cards myself and today’s date isn’t April 1st either!!!
The voice prompt at the other end actually said:
“This card has been blocked due to non payment of monies due to Global Services Ltd. Please Contact Mr Kiniko kiniko of No. soso and so Street, Lewisham or call him on 0207******* or 077******** ”
I was shocked beyond words. Maybe I had not heard correctly or maybe I had even done something wrong and either dialled a wrong access number or entered a wrong pin. I tried again. Same Story!! YEAH!! Scratched the 2nd and 3rd cards furiously!! Or rather with amazement and wonder!! Situation still remains the same! This kind of situation has passed "The more U look the less U see!" Aaaaaaahh all the stories I have been hearing about Brixton!! Now it was my turn!! How can people be so dishonest? Even in London? Were the cards stolen or what? Did the service provider not pay the required fees before he obtained the cards and started selling them? I am marching back to Brixton tomorrow to harass the life out of that man!! Its been some days since I bought those cards and I’m not really expecting him to admit that he sold them to me cos I am not even his regular customer and have no business with the place at all - it was merely a point of exit on that occassion!! These people cannot rip off honest & hard working customers off in broad daylight selling DUD fone cards and go scot free!!
Apart from that, I have sworn never to purchase anything in Brixton again.
Once bitten ...................