What is quality control – and does it exist in Nigerian businesses?
I’m going to be telling two stories to illustrate my point.
The first happened a number of years ago – on a Sunday morning. I was sent out to buy groceries for breakfast – bread, sardines and eggs. I liked sardines a lot, so that’s what I went to buy first. At that time, a tin of sardines were sold for one naira; geisha (the tomato sauce version) for fifty kobo.
Imagine my shock when I heard that the tin of sardine was then one naira fifty kobo.
I’m sure I screamed “Mommy!” all the way home. In my little mind, my mother was going to come and set the mallam straight. What did he mean – saying Sardines now cost one-fifty? Does he know more than my mother? It turned out my mother wasn’t straightening out anything. She gave me additional fifty kobo and I went back to get the sardines.
But that wasn’t the only problem.
When we opened the tin, we realised that not only the prices had changed. The contents too were different. Instead of the usual six fish, there were only four resting in oil, looking up at us in dead resignation.
Second story; fast forward to sometime in 2015.
I’m feeling hungry one afternoon, so I decide to have a meal of bread and…yup, you guessed right…sardines. I bought a tin of said fish for one hundred and fifty naira and settled down to gobble. I opened the tin and found only two of those guys. These ones weren’t even looking at me!
Now this doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense, does it? I mean, how is it that something is increasing in price yet decreasing in quality/quantity? How can it be we’re paying more for less?
It is a representative case study but the sardine scenario cuts across every industry in Nigeria. The only thing that seems to have increased in price but at least remained consistent in quantity is Coke (though, I still side-eye that new-bottle 50cl).
The question, however, is: Isn’t there somebody in charge of quality control? Shouldn’t somebody or some body be in charge of regulating the prices and quality/quantity of these products? Shouldn’t the rights of the average Nigerian be protected?
It’s in contexts like this one that I say the government has failed the people. Some company decides they are spending too much on a product and, therefore, reduces its quality – and increases the price. And nobody says anything.
As with almost other things, it’s time Nigerians stood up and defended themselves. I mean, if we all decided to boycott these products, what’s the worst that could happen? I bet people in charge of quality control will wake up.
DSTV increases their prices on a whim. It’s as though they just wake up, put their heads together and decide that their customers are paying too little for the services they offer. It’s time for a price hike, they decide. And because, sometimes, the right palms might have been greased, there’s absolutely no one to take them to task over the matter.
It’s really disheartening.
This is one of those situations in which the “indomitable Nigerian spirit” works against us – the indomitable spirit of perseverance; of survival even in the harshest of environments. It is one of those situations where we need to speak up – where we need to raise our voices and be heard and not suffer in silence. Someone made a joke about how Sardine has gone from four to three and then two fish. He then concludes “One day we’ll open the tin and see a message inside saying: ‘try again”.
The comment section was predictable.
Most of the people who came there probably reacted just like I imagine you’re doing now – laughing and thinking just how funny it was. But it’s a sad reality. Many businesses basically do whatever they want to because there’s no one checking them.
How does a supermall sell expired goods? How does a fast food eatery sell spoilt food to customers or food with insects crawling in it? Why are telco customer-care agents so rude to the customers – time and time again? Does the company not understand what quality control mean?
Simple. Because nobody says anything.
It’s about time we had a conversation about these things. I mean, who’s to stop products and companies from continuously taking advantage of the paying customer?
Not the government. That’s for sure. They have their hands full with more “important” things.
Oh well. I do too.