Here’s the Ximex con, or how the price of a phone goes up because of a box

Victor Mukandatsama Avatar

If you call it the NSSA car park, most people won’t recognise it or its significance when it comes to tech consumables. But this place (formerly Ximex Mall) has long been considered as a haven for any sort of mobile device or tech gadget that can be found on the streets of Harare.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to do business there, but carrying a bag of street smarts before you even think of negotiating for anything there is a good rule. I recently I discovered how part of the Ximex system really works.

I approached a hustler who told me to bring $250 for a pre-owned Galaxy S4. This is the price you will get it for from all the dealers at the area, unless it is specifically faulty and needs repairs. Having suspected that I would not be comfortable trading in the open, the guy asked me to come to Chicken Slice (food parlor opposite), bought me a drink and asked me to wait five minutes for him.

He rushed outside anxiously as I sipped on the coke. I traced him for a distance as he made various stops at groups and individuals milling around the place, at times engaging in one minute animated arguments before two or more “hustlers” headed in different directions repeating the same routine.

At another turn, he bumped into another dealer “making rounds”, nearly falling a few centimeters from a moving car. He quickly regained his composure and with no word to the driver (angrily hooting) or any regard for the other person he had bumped into, he continued on his quest just as energetically as before.

He disappeared into the loitering crowd and within a short period he appeared again holding three devices placing them neatly on the table. Two were S4s and one was a Galaxy Note.

All three phones appeared like genuine Samsung makes and in good condition. One still had the plastic shielding on the screen found on new phones and the guy assured me that the previous owner had only used it for a short period before he swapped and topped for an upgrade.

Curious, I then insisted on the price for a new and boxed similar model which he informed would sell at $400. As I discovered later from an actual shop, the price is actually $350.

Nevertheless, he rushed out again but this time in a sure direction. Within ten minutes he was back with another phone in a plastic sheath and box complete with new earphones, a charger and the rest of the set. He quickly opened the boxed, took out the phone and handed it to me and said “chimboonai simbi iyi mdhara” (Check out this awesome piece of tech).

I inspected the phone and there were no signs that it had been used before. The screen was clean with no smudges and the body itself did not have any scratches or visible deformities. I just had a hunch however knowing that this was Ximex mall after all and turned it on. The phone went straight past the Samsung splash screen and straight to the home screen, with correct date and time.

Realising that he had blundered, he sheepishly took away the phone and smirked before he added “iskiri yebasa mdhara but ndogona kungokutsvagirai yamurikuda yacho” (skill for the trade my man, but I can still get you what you want).

All in all the accessories cost him $10 and apparently boxes are readily available for such incidences. I pulled out my S4 and stood up and waved it at him, “Phone ndinayo kare but thanks nedrink”. (I already have a good phone, thanks for the drink.) He inspected me a few moments before mumbling something and walking away.

I am not saying don’t buy from the street, but that’s how many fall into the Ximex con. I was lucky not to fall for such, but like every other Zimbabwean, I’ve listened to my fair share of stories about people who have paid for something that cost more than its worth.

if you fancy the adventure and huge potential that street deals for devices offer, be smart enough to know how to check for a genuine device. While I’m not  a gadget guru myself, there’s s o much that Google has generously shared with me on how to test for genuine Android devices as well as a real Samsung phone or tablet. Sites like this visihow or the right YouTube video can save you quite a bit in money and regret.

These are by no means the default sites or platforms, just a couple I easily peeled of the internet. You might want to do the same.

Of course, the ultimate solution is to just buy from a legitimate distributor. The cost might be less negotiable, but the guarantee covers you.



  1. Phidza

    Haisi new one iyi, it’s been like this for years

  2. Evans

    True, I lost my chimbudzi the other day on Sunday and decided to purchase from those street guys. I will never make that mistake again!

  3. sir

    “chimboonai simbi iyi mdhara” (Check out this awesome piece of tech). Punch Line.

  4. Anonymous

    This page has the Latest Fashion in Harare Zimbabwe guys!!

  5. Jimminy Cricket

    I used to work for a distributor in Zimbabwe that imported refurbished phones from China. They were genuine product but had been used. This however was not evident as the covers and screen cover are replaced and new accessories put in the boxes. New sealing labels were used to close the boxes. You would not be able to tell the difference between these second hand units and new devices and this lead to the majority of them being sold in the ‘down town’ channel as new.

    If you do not buy from the authorized channels you will get what you pay for. (AKA pay peanuts, get monkeys.)

  6. Peter

    How many of those are stolen devices I wonder???

  7. Munya

    In my country “cheap” means less expensive but still valuable. I have since learnt that in cheap means exactly that – of little value!

  8. fourwallsinaroom

    can anyone say africom-? refurbs all the way

  9. data beast

    if it comes out of the box the price drops by about 30%. even for cars, once it leaves the showroom price drops by up to 30%. ndosaka vamwe tichida dzabuda mubox dzabva imwe 100 bucks

  10. Cutty

    So what ar saying coz they are from streets they are not genuine? Usatambe nemabasa edu nxaaa sha respectd pple buy fones from ximex