Digicel accused of gluing SIM card

Digicel Samoa has yet to respond to inquiries about a SIM card that a customer claims was glued into an Alcatel mobile phone that he purchased at the Digicel store at the NPF Plaza last month. 

Lagisi Vaili, 55, a native of Samatau who lives in Satapuala, told the Samoa Observer he purchased a phone last month and two days later, he tried to remove the SIM card but it would not budge. 

“I bought the phone last month for $149 tala at the Digicel store at the Plaza. It was about two days later that I tried to pull the SIM card out but I couldn’t. It was stuck. I think they glued the SIM card into the phone,” Mr. Vaili said. 

“That is not good. I bought the phone and you know, sometimes I want to change my number and use another SIM card without having to ask someone else to do it for me but I couldn’t take the SIM card out.” 

He has been meaning to make a visit to a Digicel store to file a complaint about the Alcatel phone in person but family and work have kept him busy over the last few weeks. 

Mr. Vaili is a father who works on a tugboat. His phone is used to communicate with his family, especially his children and for work. 

“I use my phone a lot to talk to my children and also for my work. I have been wanting to visit Digicel to take my phone and file a complaint myself but I have not been able to do that because I have been very busy,” he said. 

A concerned citizen sent the Observer a video clip that shows a man trying to remove a SIM card from an Alacatel phone using the tip of a pen but the card would not move. 

“[It] doesn't seem right that you pay for a brand new phone and find out later that it has been tampered with...” said the concerned citizen. 

A staff member at the Office of the Regulator said customers should have the freedom to change SIM cards at their whim. 

It is not clear why Mr. Vaili could not remove the SIM card from his Alcatel phone, whether it was done by the manufacturer or Digicel. 

An e-mail sent to Digicel Samoa Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) Mark Witthuhn, asking if it is a practice of Digicel to glue SIM cards into their phones, did not receive a response as of press time. 

Vodafone Samoa C.E.O. Nofoasaefa Satish Sharma said via e-mail: "Vodafone is [an] ethical company and avoid to indulge in any such practice. While we did come across few such cases in the market, but cannot comment on the motive of such gluing [of] the SIM to handset, as handset once paid is property of the customers." 

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