Idlib: Maintenance of electrical appliances at a new price

The costs of maintaining electrical appliances are increasing in the northwestern city of Idlib - June 15, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)

The costs of maintaining electrical appliances are increasing in the northwestern city of Idlib - June 15, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Anas al-Khouli)


Idlib – Anas al-Khouli

Walid was disappointed after he learned that the cost of maintaining his broken electric fan was close to the price of a new one, so he preferred to stay without a fan until conditions improved, and he bought one to protect himself and his family from the summer heat.

His situation is similar to that of many residents in the city of Idlib, who suffer from a rise in the prices of maintenance of electrical appliances, especially with the rise in temperatures and the increased need for a fan mainly.

With the intensification of the summer heat waves, people tend to increasingly use fans and refrigerators, most of which need maintenance or change due to their age and the incompatibility of old electrical parts with new variables in energy, especially solar energy.

The people rely on their participation in the active electricity companies in the area to operate the various electrical tools or on the solar energy panels that have become widespread.

Maintenance equal to new fan price

Walid al-Sayyed, 37, a displaced person who lives in Idlib and works as a porter in the al-Hal vegetable market, said that his modest fan broke down at the end of last summer, and because he did not need it and the financial conditions were tight, he postponed its maintenance until the beginning of this summer.

He added that he recently took the fan to a maintenance shop adjacent to his house when the technician told him that the cost of its maintenance is 235 Turkish liras ($10) as a minimum, which is a large amount compared to its price and Walid’s daily wage.

The maintenance man told him that the fan motor was damaged and needed a new one, which costs $9, plus the cost of replacing it.

Two years ago, Walid borrowed a small amount from one of his relatives and bought a fan of medium quality for $12, following the advice of the seller at the time.

He earns 100 Turkish liras per day (about $4), and after a simple calculation, the cost of maintaining the fan equals Walid’s hard work for two and a half days, which prompted him to stay without a fan and wait until his conditions improve to buy a new one.

Idlib-based Qusay al-Salloum, 41, said that his electric fan was old, which he bought in 2012, and that he rarely used it due to the lack of electricity. After the electric current reached his house, he took it out, but it was out of order.

Al-Salloum bought a new one that consumes less electricity and at a price close to the costs of maintaining his old fan, according to what he told Enab Baladi.

For his part, Abdullah al-Gharibi, 37, said that the return of electricity to the Idlib neighborhoods years ago was accompanied by difficulties in securing suitable electrical tools in terms of the amount of current consumption and the lack of breakdowns.

Al-Gharibi added to Enab Baladi that the high electricity prices, the large amount of electricity consumed by old appliances, and the high maintenance costs prevent residents from seeking to maintain broken appliances and push them to buy new appliances if they are absolutely necessary.

Monopoly, manipulation

A number of electrical appliance maintenance craftsmen attributed the high maintenance costs to the high prices of spare parts due to the “monopoly” and the “exploitation” of people’s need for this service.

Youssef Shaqifi, 25, has been working in the field of maintaining household electrical appliances for seven years. He told Enab Baladi that there are many broken electrical appliances in the city of Idlib, and maintenance operations are limited to “necessary” ones.

Shaqifi attributed the residents’ reluctance to maintain the devices to the difficult economic and living conditions and the high maintenance costs.

He added that customers show the devices to maintenance shops, and after examination, the shops estimate the cost of maintenance based on the spare parts that the device needs, which control the high cost.

The maintenance worker pointed out that any device that does not need replacement parts has a very low maintenance cost, and if it needs major parts, such as the fan motor, the cost is high.

He attributed the high prices of spare parts to the monopoly of one trader on the import of these parts and the absence of other traders to compete and reduce prices.

Ahmed Tahseen, a fifty-year-old electrical appliances trader, said that the high prices of spare parts are due to the high exchange rate of the dollar against the Turkish lira, and the manipulation of the markets by some monopolists, and the exploitation of citizens’ needs in the absence of consumer protection.

According to the currency Döviz website, the Turkish lira is witnessing instability and a rapid decline in its value against the US dollar, recording unprecedented levels in its history, reaching 23.56 for $1.

Tahseen added that he used to buy previously broken electrical appliances and turn them into spare parts for other broken devices, and he was forced to buy some simple parts.

Today, low-quality goods are being pumped out of various types that cannot be used as replacement parts for each other, he told Enab Baladi.

The seller pointed out that the only beneficiaries of this situation are the dealers of new electrical appliances, who introduce low-quality devices that break down quickly, and the cost of maintaining them is high, which means that residents need to buy new devices.

Mahmoud Aswad, 35, who works in the trade and maintenance of household electrical appliances, added another reason for the high prices of spare parts, which is the high costs of shipping goods from China to northern Syria.

He added that shipping costs have increased by 10% this year compared to the previous year.

Maintenance market to improve

Professionals in the maintenance of electrical appliances believe that the summer season and the increasing heat lead to an improvement in the maintenance market for old, idle electrical appliances due to the multiplicity of devices that citizens usually use in the summer and do not use in the winter.

Shaqifi considers that summer is a season for work more than the rest of the year because of the large number of devices that are used, such as refrigerators, fans, and water pumps.

Merchant and technician Mahmoud Aswad expected work to improve in Eid al-Adha due to people’s need for fans and refrigerators during the Eid period.

Aswad believes that the demand for maintenance is related to the season. Each season has its own tools and equipment that people need. In the summer, citizens need refrigerators and water pumps, and in the winter, their need for heaters, washing machines, and clothes dryers increases.

A number of technicians interviewed by Enab Baladi pointed out that they follow a policy of reducing maintenance fees to urge citizens to do so, and to increase work to move the stagnant market, pointing out that the high prices of spare parts forced them to this policy.

The craftsmen, through Enab Baladi, called on the responsible authorities to protect the consumer, combat the monopoly of spare parts for electrical appliances, reduce prices, and protect markets from manipulation.

Spare parts are expensive

Hamdo al-Jassem, director of public relations at the Ministry of Economy and Resources of the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), the governing administrative body in Idlib, said that goods enter the region through several supplying companies and that spare parts are available in many companies.

Al-Jassem added to Enab Baladi that there are maintenance parts that cost more than the cost of the device itself, and the quantities entering through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey are large and sufficient for the local market.

Several merchants have exclusive agencies to import these devices, and they are responsible for maintaining what they import, and if there is any monopoly, the economy ministry works to follow it up and hold the importer accountable, according to al-Jassem.



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