It is said that life is all about taking risks here and there. From what most motivational speakers say, the decision to stay idle because one does not want to take risks is even riskier than the act of engaging in risky adventures; whether real or imagined risks.
Remember we said that the Igbo apprentice and his master are not the only traders in the marketplace, it is just that certain achievements in business has cast the spotlight on him. This success does not come without a price. One of the reasons behind this is due to the lines of trade he goes into.
He goes into difficult and sometimes weird lines of business which surprisingly offer great rewards if the trader can persevere and learn the ropes properly. These businesses require intense and delicate customer service before and after sales. Sometimes, these businesses have to do with products which demand that the consumer must be careful in using them.
His major trade lines are unlike Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), a line of business where it is fairly easy for anyone to go into. Groceries are a major part of FMCG. The goods are quick straightforward consumables. People do not need to be taught by the seller how to eat biscuit for example or how to cook their meals with the foodstuffs they buy. There is no obligation on the part of the seller regarding these things.
But there are types of business which the Igbo apprentice gets into which as has been said are delicate. For example spare parts for vehicles, drugstore and electronics. Most of his trade lines are things that should be learnt in tertiary institutions. Actually his learning process is also a form of tertiary institution, though not formal but more robust and practical than what is learnt in between school walls. He is a clear example of learning on the job.
It is in the process of carrying out his business that he will get into trouble like any other professional; doctor, lawyer or engineer. He will be misunderstood and accused, he also will misunderstand and accuse. The truth is that he gets into trouble first of all because he is human just as his customers are too. Secondly he gets into trouble because he is in error, whether intentional or not.
To give us a clear understanding of the kind of trouble or conflict we are talking about, let’s simplify it this way. When a customer purchases goods or services from the apprentice, it is done with the aim that whatever has been purchased will serve the purpose for which MONEY was paid for it. In the process of consuming what has been paid for, if the consumer finds out that it is not working as it ought to be or that it is below expectation; trouble is potentially born and it may escalate or be ignored.
It will escalate when the seller insists that he offered a good product or service and that if there is any problem now it then is the fault of the consumer. The consumer on the other hand insists that the fault is not from her side; and so it becomes an argument until a sweet or bitter solution is found
These issues are difficult to solve due to distrust inherent in grown people – unlike kids who believe everything (as listeners) and when they do lie (as speakers) can be easily cajoled into saying the truth. Before long the law is brought into the matter; through police, courts or reputable third parties.
Prejudice also contributes to making such conflicts difficult to handle. In Nigeria, every group has labels – good and bad – for which they are known. So when this stereotypes are put into consideration, Mr A will believe that Mr B is acting as usual and vice versa.
One of the best solution to these issues is the issuance of guarantees from the manufacturers of goods. These guarantees last for certain period, they also give assurance to all involved that the goods will serve their purpose and they also specify the terms and conditions under which they are viable.
Guarantee and their implementation work perfectly in developed countries, not in a country like Nigeria. This happens for diverse reasons. Sometimes service centers are not efficient. Also there are instances where the goods are not authentic and therefore cannot be covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee. Customers too at times seek to circumvent the right procedures for usage of guarantee provision.
When all these are considered, along with the Nigerian factor, we see that certain business troubles may never leave the apprentice.