Before you order the ₦7999 Zzapo 720, read this

December 4, 2019
6 min read

UPDATE: Read 'A quick update on Zzapo Mobile'

On Tuesday morning, I woke up to the below tweet and had to do a double take.

An actual smartphone with 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, fingerprint sensor and a 3200 mAh battery to boot, that costs less than $22?

"Did April Fool's Day come 4 months early?" I thought to myself. Yinka Awosanya has written about how Africa does not need sub-$50 'smart' featurephones but this one seems different.

So I did a bit of Googling and reading. It turns out the company behind this is Indian-based Zzapo Mobile. They hosted an official launch event, to much fanfare, on the 30th of November in Lagos, Nigeria. The launch involved internet celebrities like Queen Blogger, Linda Ikeji and popular skit-comedian, Broda Shaggi.

zzapo promotional
Zzapo Mobile promotional digital banner

As it turns out, the Zzapo 720 actually costs ₦108,000 (~ $300) but is currently retailing at ₦7,999, if you order between the 2nd and 6th of December.

Soon, my journalistic instincts kicked in and, without thinking further about it, I headed over to the official website and place an order.

zzapo website
Ordering from the Zzapo website

What followed is a series of confusing events I'm still yet to fully grasp.

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What in the questionable customer care?

Zzapo utilises Paystack to process payments. So immediately the payment went through, I got a confirmation receipt from Paystack.

zzapo paystack receipt

Naturally, I expected a confirmation email or SMS from Zzapo to follow immediately. It never came.

"Don't panic yet, just sit it out for now," I thought to myself. To calm my nerves, I searched the website for a support email and forwarded my receipt with a complaint. For double measure, I sought out their Instagram page and DMed same complaint. Finally, I sent a Facebook message, crossed my fingers, and headed out to the office.

It wasn't until 10:55 p.m that I got a response, via Instagram.

"You will be contacted via email or sms [sic] for delivery details," the message simply read.

Quite pissed, I questioned why I didn't get a confirmation of my order and why it required me sending an Instagram DM to get any information.

"If you've been debited, you'll be contacted cause [sic] we already have your contact informations [sic]. It'll be delivered within 21 days," they responded.

Not bothering to do dwell on the casual responses, I ended the conversation by sending, "I hope to hear from you soon".

"You will," they simply concluded.

instagram with zzapo

Not satisfied with the response, I made a mental note to visit their office first thing on Wednesday morning. That seems to be the primary way customer care issues get properly resolved in Nigeria.

Visiting the Zzapo Mobile office

zzapo mobile office
Disgruntled customers at the Zzapo Mobile office

Zzapo Mobile is located within the Assets Corp Plaza, right in the middle of Computer Village, Ikeja.

At the main entrance into the Plaza, as I drove in, the security man grumbled about Zzapo customers "taking up all the parking spaces this morning".

I didn't fully grasp what he was saying until I climbed upstairs. The office -- if you can call it that; it's no more spacious than a medium-sized house bathroom -- which is at shop C-87 on the second floor, was packed full with disgruntled customers. Many of whom were apparently misled, by online campaigns, to believe that if they came to the shop physically, and paid by mobile transfer or bank teller, they would get the devices immediately.

I was only one of the very few people who had paid online. The attendants assured me that my Paystack receipt was enough confirmation of my order.

"So when do I get the device?" I questioned further.

"Put down your name and reference number on this sheet and come back with the email receipt in 21 days," she said dismissively.

Up until this point, I had assumed that the device would be delivered to me. Why else would they request for my address and phone number at checkout?

Still not satisfied with the responses I was getting, I and a few others requested to at least see a sample of what we have paid for. What we got was a dummy device that we were not allowed to switch on "until oga comes".

zzapo dummy
The dummy device. Notice how the branding reads 'Protruly' instead of Zzapo

One observant chap pointed out that the device wasn't appropriately branded. It read 'Protruly' on the back, instead of Zzapo. Protruly is a Chinese brand name.

Hindsight update

Another person noticed that the banner hanging in front of the office spotted dummy 'Lorem Ipsum' text.

zzapo lorem ipsum
Banner displaying lorem ipsum dummy text

"They must have hurriedly put together this space. All of these are tell-tale signs of a potential scam," a third person who had yet to pay concluded.

A scam or just a poorly executed, but innovative campaign?

Based on my experience so far, I have a theory. The Zzapo Mobile campaign isn't an outright scam, they've just bitten on more than they can chew.

What we have here is an innovative awareness campaign. By involving influencers like Linda Ikeji and Broda Shaggi and employing ridiculous discounts, Zzapo is making an attempt at drastically reducing traditional advertisement costs, to cut through all the noise.

What they probably didn't prepare for is all the attention they are currently getting. There's also the high possibility that the devices aren't ready yet and a potential for extended delays once they start shipping.

This is just my theory. I may be wrong but I guess we'll find out in 21 days, which by the way is Christmas eve. So I'd say give or take 30-something days, we will know if I am right or I have been scammed.

You should totally check back here in 35 days (set a reminder) to see if I have an update. But if I turn out to be right, it'd be too late by then as the Zzapo 720 would have started retailing for ₦105,000.

But if you can't wait, and you have ₦7,999 to risk like me, you can place an order now (via website or at the office) before the promo ends on Friday. Good luck.

PS: In hindsight, maybe I should have taken this guy's approach:

But then again, I did what I did for you.

There is an update to this article. Read it here

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I bully myself because I make me do what I put my mind to. Find me on Twitter @MuyoSan.
I bully myself because I make me do what I put my mind to. Find me on Twitter @MuyoSan.
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I bully myself because I make me do what I put my mind to. Find me on Twitter @MuyoSan.

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