Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't buy a stolen phone.

There is a small market by the bus stop, where shady looking guys set up tables and line them with "2nd hand" cell phone. These "second hand" cell phone usually come pre-programmed with other people's numbers. This is a bonus, I guess... if you are a telemarketer.

My usual 'high-horse', 'detached from reality', 'suspect use of faulty logic', speech to people about buying stolen goods usually goes along the lines of: "If you don't want your cell phone stolen, don't buy a stolen cell phone. If there's no demand, there won't be a supply".

I know it's stupid, but it seems to make since from a distance.

With that said, I recently bought a stolen cell phone.

 My cell phone got wet during Carnavales (department-wide water balloon fight) and I needed a new one. In the end I opted for a off-brand model that not only had a radio and camera, it also had a TV!!! (complete with cool, go-go gadget antennae); however the next day when I shut it off, I started to realize I had been had. The darn thing won't turn back on, or more accurately, it took roughly an hour for it to get past a screen that ironically said 'Good Luck'. Frustrating.

So I had to take it back, but returns are never a sure thing in the black market. This is how it went:

I walked up to the guy's stand, where he instantly started to try to sell me a cell phone. I cursed his offerings and explained that I was unhappy with my previous purchase. He denied ever seeing me, or my cell phone. I began to curse louder and demand a change for a cell phone that works. The guy's buddy/business partner hears the commotion the gringo is making, and arrives to tell me 'Estas loco, pata'. I inform him that I am neither crazy, or his friend (pata is slang for amigo). We continue to argue. While arguing, I manage to purposely scare off two potential customers, stating that the two men are con-artists that sell junk. The men get angry and tell me to leave. I tell them, if I leave, I'm coming back with the cops. They laugh.

... I leave and go speak with a street cop. After explaining that the guys on the corner 'me estafaron' (they ripped me off), the cop laughs, and tell me that they are notorious for that, and that I would need to go to the police station and report them.

I begin walking to the police station, and stop half-way there; I wasn't sure I wanted to waste my day for a  junk cell phone/radio/t.v. After thinking for a moment, I decide to try one last tactic... I turn back, and storm back to the stand. By the time the guys saw me I was already taking pictures, without saying a word (as though I was collecting evidence from a crime scene) by the third picture, the first guy turned to the second and ask "la cambio?" (should I change the phone?) the second guy nodded, and I stopped taking pictures. We cursed at each other some more, and then traded my old phone for one that work.

I guess if you're selling questionable goods, flying under the radar is a good idea.

Here are my new buddies: