The huge influx of imported mobile phones in Pakistan has spawned a whole industry around mobile phone repair work. The trend of mobile repair as a small business in Pakistan has taken off rapidly in the last few years. One reason for this could be the increase in handset prices caused by higher duty on handsets and falling value of Rupee. Most of these â€repair techniciansâ€ lack formal training and have most likely picked up mobile repairing skills on the job.
The small mobile repair shops have opened up everywhere. In Lahore, markets like Hafeez centre and Hall road are among the most popular for mobile repair work. There are signs outside these shops which claim that they can repair and unlock phones from anywhere in the world. These shops charge around 300 to 500 Rs to unlock a phone, depending on the model and difficulty involved. These shops are equipped with tools, hardware and Internet access (for access to unlock codes I guess).
I did a first hand experiment by getting a Motorola RAZR phone unlocked at Hafiz center (shown above). The phone was unlocked in less than 30 minutes and worked fine, thanks to Pakistani craftsmanship. On the high-end, mobile phone retail networks like MobileZone have their own technical facilities to service their customers and the phones under warranty.
In May 2008, Nokia started NOKIA CARE centers in Pakistan, located in Lahore and Karachi. Nokiaâ€™s official outlet provides services like warranty claims and mobile repair. This specific service is the only one by a global retail brand in Pakistan (at the moment), providing their customers with top notch repair lab, complete with quality control standards and good customer services. But apart from Nokia, markets are loaded with other brands such as Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Blackberry etc for which there are no such quality repair facilities.
The perception of general public is that once your mobile gets into a repair shop its value decreases instantly. Usually 80% of the second hand mobile phones are repaired because of technical issues and then sold again in the market. Above all, it is clear that the quality in repairing these hand sets is below standard. The tools employed are usually not specifically designed to do that work. The physical environment of the repair unit is open with dust and pollution.
While we have failed to bring in new phone manufacturing facilities to Pakistan we can support and strengthen the mobile repair industry by providing training, tools and by establishing standards. A simple repair manual like this or training videos in local languages can be very helpful. I donâ€™t know how many technical training schools offer mobile phone repair courses or certifications but I feel that there should be more of those. New quality standards must be set for the private repair workshops. But more importantly Mobile handset brands should invest in local customer care centers and training of local staff. This will not only benefit their customers but also create trust and customer satisfaction.
Thanks to Omar Aijaz for his photo/Text and Fast Ford for his photo contribution to this post.