I was 13 years of age.
Before I delve into the details of this particular experience, I’d like you to stop for a moment, and take a trip down memory lane – all the way back to the time when you, too, were 13 years of age. Recall those memories, hold them closely in your hearts, and now proceed.
The world appeared to be a much simpler place when I was 13 years young. I was innocent, but I was ignorant too. I knew nothing of the world, and I was merely wrapped up in my own concentrated cocoon of existence, enjoying the ripe fruits of youth. There was this huge aura of positivity around me, as if things just couldn’t go wrong. I was surrounded by good, positive people in general and didn’t have much to complain about.
I’d just recently topped the 8th grade as student of the year, but I was slowly becoming overwhelmed with the heavy burden that accompanied the transition into O Levels. My grades began slacking, I was venturing into unfamiliar territories, and I wasn’t really sure of what to do.
Subsequently – I did the only thing that I could do. I found solace in my one and only supreme source of comfort – my trusty Xbox 360. It’d been with me for nearly 5 years at that point, and it was probably the most important thing in my life back then.
In 2013 almost everyone, especially my friends, had modified their Xboxes to run pirated J-Tagged games (which cost roughly 100/-) but I, on the other hand, never got mine modified. I paid it due respect by keeping it in its original condition, and thus had to fork out at least 3000/- for every single game that I purchased (which weren’t many in number). This was quite a burden on my parent’s wallets, but I feel as though it gave me a greater appreciation of the console. I admired the machine, and watching it slowly turn on with an inviting purr always filled me with a sense of intrigue. I cherished every moment of action that I got with it.
The nostalgia was great, but the fact of the matter was that times were changing. The golden era of the Xbox 360 was slowly fading away, and the PS4 had just been introduced for a 2014 Pakistan release. All my friends were going for it, and it was in that heap of peer pressure that I’d decided to make a shift towards Sony. The next-gen consoles came with a King’s ransom too – a launch price of 1 lakh rupees (which later subsided to 70k) but in order to get anywhere near that, I’d have to sell off my own Xbox 360. It was a tough choice to make, but I was willing to do it.
Thus, I tried my luck. I’d never really participated in an individual transaction of my own, but OLX had newly been introduced, and the TV shows were bombarding us with their adverts, so I thought about giving it a shot.
“After all, what’s the worst that can happen” I thought.
The price at which I’d listed the machine was approximately 22k (if I remember correctly), and it was a bundle in its own right. It included the 120GB Xbox 360 Elite (UK model), with 3 original controllers, a dual controller charging dock, and around 14 original games, mostly purchased from the United Kingdom. Even thinking about it on this day, I have to admit that it was a steal. I honestly believe that I could’ve sold it for about 30k had I known how to deal properly.
Nonetheless, I placed the advert. To my surprise, I got a lot of offers. Many ranged from 18k to 16k and 15k, and the people kept on calling. I wonder what they’d thought having heard a 13-year-old child on the other end. I even got an offer for a single controller – which was worth 3k on its own.
While attempting to handle all these texts and calls, I received a message on Viber (yes, people actually used it at that time). The buyer said that he was interested, and enquired about the details of the machine. I responded accordingly, and he said that he’d like to have a look at it – there was no mention of a price.
Since I’d received a lot of messages in which people hadn’t provided any follow ups, I paid no heed to it. A couple of days later, one of my friends had come over for a gaming session, and we were firing up a round of COD MW3 when I got a call on my phone from a man saying that he was here to see the Xbox, and I hurried out with my friend to find him. He couldn’t locate the house at first, so we walked all the way up to the masjid where we saw his car parked, and identified ourselves before he asked us to take a seat and drove us towards the house.
Thinking back on it now, I’m absolutely sure that the guy had made up his mind from the moment he saw us. Right there and then, he knew that he was going to walk away with the Xbox; and he was going to take it for an absolute steal.
He came in a steel grey Honda City which had a bottle green license plate. The interior was quite filthy and was littered with wrappers and discs of some PC games, and even a laptop lying about on the back seat. He asked his friend to stay in the car while he went into the house, and the accomplice kicked his feet on top of the dashboard, before reclining his chair and cranking the AC to max. Meanwhile, the buyer came into my house.
Ironically enough, I still didn’t know who he really was. He scratched his head, and a speck of laughter emerged from beneath his coarse beard as he identified himself as “Asif”, the very same person from Viber. I slowly connected 2 and 2, and it finally made sense. He was of a substantially stocky physique, and he observed the machine across a period of 2 hours while talking about his own life. He claimed to be a student in LSE and said that he had a younger brother named Danish who was in his O’ Levels at BDC, and the Xbox was meant to be a present for him.
When he’d tested out the console and seemed to be satisfied with its condition. It then came time to decide on the price; I’d advertised for around 22k, and I needed every penny from that if I was to turn my dream of a PS4 into a reality.
“I’ll give you 10,000 rupees for it”
Upon hearing this, my jaw dropped approximately 10,000 feet into the ground.
“You must be joking. You’re not serious man”
O Contraire! He was serious! He even tried to rationalize it by saying that my model was an older one, and thus worth substantially less. He said that the price of next-gen consoles like the Xbox One were worth 1 lakh rupees on launch, and the prices of all consoles (especially used) are going down worldwide. He said that my Xbox wasn’t modified, and he needed a modified one, so he was going to have to put in that expense himself. He said that he’d come all the way from DHA just to see it –
I stopped listening. I realized that this man was a fraud, and I wanted no more of it. In the meanwhile, I’d even gotten another call from a person who was offering 18,000/- for it.
“Bro, offers to bohot saray atay hain, khareednay pe koi nahi aye ga”
At this point, I knew that this person was my enemy, and I wanted him out. To my amazement though, he showed no intention of leaving; he kicked up his sandaled feet across the corner of bed, and began surfing on his phone.
Around another hour had passed, and my mom was getting angry. She said earlier that we’d have to buy a new bag for school, and she wanted to leave for Pot Pouri. I went to my father, and asked him to ask this guy to leave – but he paid no attention. I told him that “this man is essentially an intruder in our house now and I can’t get him to leave. You can though”. As far as he was concerned, it was my own problem. Since I’d caused the uproar by inviting this stranger into my house, the burden was on me to get rid of him.
I went up Asif and told him: “Listen dude, we’re not interested in selling”
And then he replied rather sternly: “Bhai mai DHA se yahan tak sirf iss ke liye aya houn. I’m not leaving without it”.
I was overflowing with outrage right then. I was absolutely incensed at what he said! At the same time, however, I could note the seriousness in his words. I knew that he actually wouldn’t leave, and there was no one else in my house except my parents and my fellow 13-year-old friend – and he still had his ultra-shady accomplice sitting downstairs in that car of his.
Since he’d made up his mind about taking the Xbox, my next best shot was to try and get an adequate price for it. I told him that the price was insufficient. He replied:
“Bhai, yakeen manay, ye bohot achi”
And before I could rebut these words, he then began preaching to my friend.
“Dekhain yaar, aap apnay bhai ko samjhain. Kisi din agr aapne PS4 lena ho ga, to aap mere se le lain. Mai aap ke saath bhaiyoun vali baat kar raha houn”.
By then, the situation was beginning to get to me. From my mother hounding me to get him out, to this intruder’s refusal to leave, to my father’s stubbornness about not getting involved in the situation – I had enough.
“Take the Xbox and leave. No games though”. I murmured
The guy looked to my friend and said: “Dekho yaar, mai ne to inn se bhaiyoun vali baat ki thi.”
I repeated: “No games”
He then pleaded that I at least give two games so that he could play them on the console.
I sensed that I was very slowly losing control of the situation.
Although he had eyes on taking my GTA 4, I just gave him some old Need for Speed and Green Lantern to finish the deal. After deciding on it, he asked for a shopping bag. When I got out of the room to grab it, I explicitly told my friend: “Don’t leave the room”.
I walked out of the room, stepped into the kitchen, and turned around – only find my friend right behind me.
Unwilling to be a slave to the situation anymore, I grabbed the shopping bag and stormed back into the room before handing it over to the buyer. As he passed me a very tiny wad of paper notes, I could sense the mockery seeping out from his smile. The notes were old and fading, just like my dreams for a PS4. They felt warm – scalding from the intense heat of the situation, and forever a symbol of my scorn.
Before sending him on his way I ensured that there was nothing missing from my room, and then sat and sulked for quite some time. We, then, went out to buy that schoolbag, which ironically turned out to be too big and was never actually used. Throughout the car ride, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had just happened. Regret, anger and outrage pounded away into my head. And just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they seemingly did.
Upon reaching home, I went through some of the games that were left behind just as somewhat of a memento to my fallen Xbox. Right when I got to the case for GTA 4, I opened it. The disk was missing. While my friend had followed me outside, Asif (if that was even his name) must have slipped the disc into the tray of the Xbox, and then carried it away without my knowledge.
“The rotten louse”, I muttered to myself.
I tried to forget about it as much as I could, but a couple of days later, I was casually scrolling through OLX when I came across the exact same Xbox on sale or 18,000/-. My Xbox! After dealing me a rouse, he’d just went and made a profit of my beloved console!
At that point, I was absolutely sure that everything that he’d told me was a lie. I knew that he didn’t have any younger brother named Danish! His name probably wasn’t even Asif either! His number 03334180373 was probably a fake too that he used only for his underhanded dealings!
All in all, I’d been completely scammed! Not only had I been scammed, but my innocence was shattered in front of my very eyes. My most prized possession had been pried from my fingers, and I was left alone with my thoughts, wondering about what just happened.
That was 7 years ago. I can recall most of it quite vividly, but things have changed since then. Although I never purchased another console after that Xbox, I took that bad experience and learned a number of things from it. To date, I’ve sold a number of things on OLX which ended up being much more successful deals. Here’s what I learned:
1): When selling things, avoid inviting people into your home
2): When dealing with a prospective buyer, make sure you’ve agreed the price before meeting them
3): Try meeting in a public place where you are accompanied by someone who you trust
4): There are no friendships or brotherhoods in the business between sellers and buyers who are unknown to each other. Odds are that you’re never going to see that person again, and hence you must keep in mind that any term of endearment that they use is merely to get a better deal.