How do you like my pitch? Oya, straight down to business.
I am not ordinarily one for public shaming, especially since I know it is not cool to be a victim. However, I have now come to realise that sometimes, we must engage in public shaming, not because of any desire to humiliate or disgrace, but because sometimes, we must protect ourselves, warn other people, and send a message to people that they cannot just to things to others and think they would get away with it because their hands are tied. Now, I understand what Okechukwu Ofili must have felt when he called out Silverbird bookshop and other major bookshops in Nigeria who had been ripping off self-published authors because they had no one to stand up for them.
I started engaging a certain man, who we will call Mr C, when my herbs supplier in India introduced him to me as the man who could ship my herbs from India. She had gotten his contact online, through his website – another reason I think this medium is most appropriate since there are others like me who might make the mistake of trusting in his credibility after meeting him online.
After some calculations, and consulting with his colleagues in India, it was agreed that I would have to pay something close to 300 dollars to ship and clear my herbs. My supplier shipped the herbs to his Indian colleague. He asked me to pay 200 dollars, which I did in a matter of hours.
I was really eager to collect my herbs last year October, as I knew I would be travelling soon. He kept promising me my products. Let’s just say that between then and now, I have travelled to 5 different countries, yet he never brought my products to me.
It started with the story of the fact that some airlines were rejecting the herbs because powders required more scrutiny in Nigeria, which I completely understood, though my frustration knew no bounds.
Then the lies started. “The powders have been shipped. No, they were not shipped, NAHCO strike is affecting it. The warehouse has been locked for days. Christmas problems. New Year problems. Election problems.”
Through it all, I stayed calm. Mostly because I had no choice. The goods were with them, and my money was with them.
Some weeks after election, I got frustrated, and decided to call his Indian colleague. I found out this colleague was in Nigeria, and had been here for quite a while. He had dumped my package with another colleague of his there. That one had hustled to ship the herbs, and it had been here – since January!!!
I couldn’t believe my ears. This was a transaction I started since last year September, that was supposed to take few days. And this was now April.
To cut the long story short, the Indian counterparts asked Mr C to bring 510 dollars to clear the products. Mr C seemed to be fuming because we felt that was just too outrageous to clear products worth about N40,000.00. He said he would keep pricing it, and by this time I was getting impatient.
Anyway, two days later, Mr C said he doesn’t want to use his own personal issues to disturb me, that I should go and clear the herbs myself. He said he would return my 200 dollars. This was in April. I asked which personal issues. He said “I told you my father died. We are doing the funeral in the village.”
It was at this point my countenance towards him changed. He had told me about three weeks earlier that his mother died, and he went to bury her. Now, he was lying that it was his father.
Let’s just say between then and now, it has been a deluge of lies, avoidance, and more lies. He later begged to return N40,000.00 instead of 200 dollars, to which I agreed. The most painful part was that if Mr C didn’t pay the money, how would I take 510 dollars to clear those herbs? It would amount to me using 710 dollars to clear the herbs, and my loss would be massive.
After waiting and waiting and waiting, with more tons of promises, lies, and lies, and lies, I finally decided to clear the herbs myself, without informing Mr C. I did this because I didn’t know the reputation of the agent they had given my herbs to, if they would just dump them somewhere once they don’t see me. And most importantly, the herbs had been there since January. I had bought them since last year September, and they had expiry dates. I couldn’t let Mr C’s fraudulent character kill my own business demands.
On the day I cleared the herbs, Mr C paid me N10,000. Maybe in his mind, he felt he has paid me my money because since then, he has gone from lies and pleas to even raking for me. He just keeps saying “I will pay this week. I will pay next week.” I think because he believes it might not be a lot of money, I will get tired and leave it for him. But the truth is that it means, the loss I am already incurring would even be more.
And he was right in his thought. I got tired. This whole affair had gone on for too long – almost a year! Trust me, what I wrote here is a serious understatement of the real story. The full story will just be too long.
So what did I do? I decided to call Mr C out online, since the internet it where he gets his customers. So I wrote a full blog post like the one you read above, but I included his name, company, website, picture, etc.
I ended with this… “Don’t ever patronise Mr C. He is a liar, cheat, and a fraud! He takes advantage of the fact that people have no way of lashing and fighting back. Many times, he likes to play smart, but he is not that smart. Everyone who imports should stay far away from this man. I have decided to add his picture, in case his current company runs down, and he decides to set up another company.”
And then I sent the blog post to his email, telling him that the only reason he tried this nonsense with me is because he doesn’t know me and my reputation on social media. I told him he had till Monday morning 11.00 am to pay me my money, or the blog post would automatically appear. I would never take it down, unless the money was paid. Anyone who searches for his company would see the blog post. I then scheduled the post to appear at the promised time.
Of course, he knew I wasn’t kidding because I had already done the blog post. If I had gone to that length, then I couldn’t be bluffing.
As usual, he started agitating, and making promises. I didn’t even say anything, and never called him or made a request. Let’s just say that two days later, I received my money.
And that, my friends, is how to fight a battle in this age, without lifting a finger.