Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Great Safaricom Bambanet Rip-off

I'm going to stop reading newspapers.

If you live in Kenya, and see the daily headlines you'll understand why. It seems like day after day I am assaulted with ever more dire headlines. Either the editors of these newspapers have suddenly turned into sadists intent on breaking this country's spirit, or our spirit is already broken and we are living in a very sick, sick Kenya.

Over the past weeks I have read about greedy retailers who crammed their tiny stores with goods but couldn't provide decent exits or fire prevention equipment; policemen who demanded bribes to allow highly dangerous petrol looting, arsonists-looters who decided 'if I can't have it, no one can', ministers of government who dished out food reserves and threatened the lives of millions through starvation, custodians of investors funds who used these funds as their personal piggy banks, examiners who put in doubt the academic qualifications of a generation of students, and the list goes on and on.

I'm not the only one to have noticed this slide into the abyss and analyst, commentator, and columnist over the past month have all voiced their opinion. One opinion which I find repeated among most is how greedy and selfish we have become as a society. We have become vicious plunderers of our common resources, pillaging and ravaging so completely anything we can lay our hands on, scorching the earth as we trample along that we put in doubt the possibility of a future generation to renew and rebuild. Clearly greed is a factor but what is worse is that we are blinded as to the ogre we have become. We justify and rationalise our greed, and where that is insufficient we are comforted by our ability to buy opinion and justice and emboldened by the example set forth by those who purport to lead us.

Regardless of who we are in society, beggar or millionaire, hawker or banker, student or professor we share equally in the blame. However this past week I was confronted with the most odious example of greed. The offender: the Great Safaricom; the offense: charging for Bambanet services not provided.

It seems that Safaricom, facing an energized competition, slowing growth, saddled with massive debt, and nearing its first AGM as a public company has decided to make the numbers whatever the cost. In a manner extremely disappointing for a company of its stature, Safaricom is demanding I pay 10 months subscription for a post-paid bambanet line they disconnected 10 months ago. Their argument is that I signed a contract, so whether I used the service or not I have to pay. That, as I told their representatives, is a load of bull.

Here's an analogy. Say in January you sign a one year lease with me for an apartment. If by March 5th you have not paid the March rent, and I kick you out and get another tenant, should I still demand that you pay rent between March and December? What a scam from Safaricom!

And if you still side with them, compare the very different reaction from their competition Zain.

As mentioned elsewehere in this blog I have oscillated between Zain's and Safaricom's GPRS services for some time. Since I ditched Safaricom back in 08 I got a Zain postpaid Uhurunet contract for Internet access. Early this year I had the same issue (being billed for services not provided) with them after they barred my line for two months, and then asked me to pay for those two months for service I did not use. Thinking that greed had also gotten the better of them, I verbally lashed at them. However, unlike their counterparts, and I must add much to my pleasant surprise, I received a phone call from their very courteous staff who said they had noted my complaints and decided to waive the 2 months charge. In exchange they asked that I extend my contract for the 2 months. Now that's true service.

So finally after three years of comparison, the winner of the GPRS internet service goes to Zain (formerly Celtel). Enough said.

10 comments:

Johnny Brooks said...

I am using a prepaid service from Safaricom, and it is working o.k. for me. Not sure why you would go post paid.

The speed is painfully slow, and I do get dropped all too often. Yet it is working.

I would much prefer a broadband cable connection, but I don't see that happening in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

dude, I am with Safa=com and I do not get GPRS or EDGE anymore. I am doing 3G and this goes to HSDPA. I am a tech jamaa and as that one goes so far it's Safcom in sub-saharan Africa offering HSDPA.
Warid in UG has something called an IMS network..pretty cool

coldtusker said...

SafCon promises more than it delivers. Always been the case!!!

The signal (even in Nairobi) is often weak & cuts off at the most inopportune moment.

I tried post-paid & gave up. I am now pre-paid but I can't get thru to customer service.

Zain staff returns calls. What's more. They will even call u on the safcon line!!!

SafCon does NOT believe in returning calls. Even my e-mails went unanswered!

open said...

if you would like to use your modem with ANY SIMCARD, please get in touch

openmodems@gmail.com
openmodems@yahoo.com

ALL MODEMS SUPPORTED @ksh400/

open said...

if you would like to use your modem with ANY SIMCARD, please get in touch

openmodems@gmail.com
openmodems@yahoo.com

ALL MODEMS SUPPORTED @ksh400/

open said...

if you would like to use your modem with ANY SIMCARD, please get in touch

openmodems@gmail.com
openmodems@yahoo.com

ALL MODEMS SUPPORTED @ksh400/

jalow said...

hi i would like to offer you the best deal in broadband cable connection,join the ZUKU broadband experience and you will not regret!!

startupkenya said...

@jalow

I applied for Zuku more than one month ago through the zuku website. Up to now I've not received any communication. Not the best way to convince me!

Anonymous said...

Okay this is how one safcom scam works.
First, you'll top up 50 20 250 whatever.
Second you'll text to subscribe to their 10mb deal
Third you'll get a vague response, "subscribe to unlimited internet"
Fourth that's not the actual confirmation sms but it'll fool some
Fifth here's the scam. They will wait till your credit falls below 20 to then send you a confirmation sms. This is after you surfed
Sixth your thinking why doesn't this guy just wait?
I do. Infact whole weeks at a time to no avail. But as soon as that credit falls below 20 bam. Confirmation text comes through.

You might be thinking the delay is simply a technical glitch... it is, but other people i know have the same prob and we've complained. Safaricom does nothing. And why do you think. this 'glith' is benefiting safaricom. Millions of subscribers load up credit to surf at 0.8ksh but they are instead charged 8ksh and some wount even be aware, depending on how tech savy they are. In some cases the system will wait untill the subscriber exhaust their credit and then tell them it was unable to proccess the request. Load up another card my friend and you'll be taken for another ride.
The scam works because if the subscriber has to surf, they have to surf, they can't wait two weeks or whatever. Some will be aware but what can they do. Other suckers will have been tripped up by that first ambiguous sms. Safaricom. Scammy scammy scammy.

startupkenya said...

@Anon

I couldn't have put it better myself. It's painfully true about this scam. Sadly as a regular internet user I have no option but to pay them more money i.e.subscribe to the 999 unlimited option