I love reading. I always have from a young age and almost always have a novel tucked in somewhere in my bag to indulge in when I need an escape from reality. If there was one device I had on my wish list for the longest time was an eBook reader, more specifically a Kindle. I just had to have one. Sure, I had the Amazon Kindle app on all my devices and read books on them, but it never felt right. The phone is too small, the tab is too heavy to carry around and let’s not talk about the endless stream of notifications that move your attention away from the story. So a Kindle made sense. However, there existed a problem. Kindles aren’t sold in Kenya, therefore I had to find a way to import one.
I needed a new laptop in my 4th year of University. A friend of mine ran a business which involved importing electronics from the US. He quoted a fair price for a refurbished HP Envy with awesome specs that I would have to pay an arm and a leg for here, so I ordered it. That was the beginning of my woes. It took almost 5 months, dozens of inquiries on its arrival and a couple false days of delivery. It was torture. I became frustrated and almost counted my losses. By the time it came, I wasn’t excited about it. I was just relieved because I finally had it, unlike a friend of mine who is still waiting for his gaming console, one year later.
There had to be a better way right? That is the hope I had when I discovered VituMob. VituMob is a startup that set out to make sure that Kenyans can get access to quality products not available locally without frustration or excess charges that would discourage anyone from buying online. They will have your goods delivered to your office or home at no extra cost in a relatively short period of time, 2-3 weeks. I decided to try them out and order a Kindle from the Amazon Website.
Simple and Convenient
It is pretty simple to get started with VituMob. Once on their site, you will have to download a Chrome extension and add it to your browser. It only works on Chrome, but they should be working on getting it to work on more browsers as not all Kenyans use Google Chrome.
They have listed more than 25 sites that they have partnered with allowing you to use VituMob. The sites listed range from Amazon, Apple, Macy’s, Target, David’s Bridal, Bath & Body Works and even Auto Parts Warehouse among many others literally giving you access to a wide variety of products that would otherwise be a hustle to get, unless you are a frequent traveler. Once you are at any of these sites, a pop-up at the top will appear directing you to load your items from the cart and check out with VituMob once you are done shopping. If you have installed the extension properly, you cannot miss the blue ‘belt’ at the top. I went to Amazon and added the all new Kindle Paper white in my cart.
Once you choose to check out with VituMob, it loads your items from the cart and prepares a statement with the breakdown of costs to show you your total price after adding VAT and shipping and handling costs. Once you are okay with that, you can pay for your item by either using PayPal or MPESA which is very convenient. I chose to pay via MPESA as I had a couple of problems with my PayPal account. After payment, my Kindle was marked as ordered. They send you an email with the summary of your order and the expected delivery date, which is subject to change. When I placed the order for the Kindle, I was told it would take 4 weeks for it to be delivered, which bummed me out but it’s not like I’d be paralyzed without it, so I could wait.
This is all you have to do as a buyer. Just place your order, pay for it and wait. You can also track your order by going to the site and inputting your order number. There is a small chart showing a plane, then Kenya then your home allowing you to see where exactly your item is. I would check it from time to time but I knew when to expect it, so for the most time, I didn’t think about it.
As I was going about my evening last Thursday (19th November), I got a call from them telling me that my device had arrived and they wanted to know where they can deliver to. I was caught off guard because it was a whole week earlier than expected. You know when you see that the delivery date is subject to change, you expect it to get longer not shorter. I was pleasantly surprised and told them to deliver at the office the next day. At around 11 Friday morning, I had my Kindle in my hand and I was glowing like those kids on TV on Christmas morning.
It was a stress free experience that was professionally handled by their staff for the convenience of the customer and I have to say, that makes a whole load of difference. The customer service I experienced throughout the period both from online correspondence to voice calls was very satisfactory. Any problems I had earlier on were promptly addressed and solved.
They weren’t perfect however, since each time I went to track my order, all I saw was that it was on a plane, even on the day they called me to say it had arrived, so that might have been an oversight. I can’t complain however because this was a very good experience overall since I trusted them to get my Kindle to me, and they did. Now that I have my Kindle, I still have a few more things on my Amazon wish list, I might as well go on!