Thursday, September 25, 2008

For those using Safaricom internet (Bambanet)....

It is very ironical that Safaricom advertises for services and makes such obscene profits annually yet is unable to train employees to give proper and accurate information especially on data services.

From the time I bought the Bambanet in June, my bill has been shrouded in mystery and none of the customer care agents has been able to explain.
For instance, for the first two weeks after I bought it, I was blocked ostensibly because I had burst on the 700 MB and reached my maximum of 4000 shillings per month.

That was puzzling because my Bambanet had an accumulated statistic showing that for the time I was online, I had used 750MB, my simple math shows for me to pay 4000 per month, I need to use the 700MB plus 250MB charged @ 8 per MB. So, if I am to pay 4000, then I need to use 950 MB a month.

The bills come as statements and are not broken down and any attempts to have an agent break it down have been fruitless, because “they also don’t understand”. Because I needed the service, I paid the bills anyway.

That was fine, until I applied to migrate from 700MB to 2GB on August 20th, 2008; I went to Sarit to pay my other outstanding bills plus the migration deposit. My data services account was indeed overpaid but I advised that the migration be done at the beginning of September.

Before I left, I asked the agent to inform me how many MBs I had used for August and after consulting with another agent, she told me that I had used 500MB and had 200MB on my monthly fees, meaning I could use the 200 in 10 days.

Ten days later, I called customer care to find out about the migration, only to be told that my account is blocked because I have a bill of 4000, then I sought to know how I accumulated such a bill in t10 days and I had 200MB left to use.

Explanation 1: By Anthony, when you applied to migrate, your account started being charged shs 8 per MB.

Explanation 2: Your account is X and not CMB blablabla…you see, we have various packages on how they take effect, and that is why we are charging you shs 4000.

Explanation 3: By the time you asked to migrate, you had already burst on your 700MB and you were already being charged at commercial rates (whatever that means).

In as much as Anthony gave cyclical arguments, I asked him to read the breakdown of the MBs I had used between the 10 days, he said the system was down and that the only option I had was to divide 4000 by 8, simple mathematics, or wait for the bills.

By the way, from the time I bought the service, I let the volume accumulate without resetting, and right now, the Bambanet shows that for the 289 hours 43 minutes and 16 seconds I have been online, I have used 2.1 GB, you can calculate the cumulative amounts I have paid on this data service to get the total.

Unless Safaricom supplied faulty modems, it should clearly indicate the statistics as it has.

The failure to get an explanation on the billing and the usage shows that Safaricom is hell bent on unjust enrichment without bothering to conceal it or making it look like am getting value for money.

Even if you have gotten away in other cases, please make it look like am getting value from this conmanship!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Traditions and paying dowry via Mpesa

The other day I accompanied friends of mine to the rural home as part of a marriage ceremony, am not sure which stage it was- but must have been Ngurario or Kuracia.

At some point, we found that we had money in the phones but we almost did not have it all in cash. It left me wondering whether it would nice to send that money via Mpesa, its easier and less cumbersome.

I think it will soon be used in Kiambu, my home, where the traditions do not make that sense provided there is money in the mix. Then after the ceremony is over, the local thugs come for the money, arguing that they heard from the grapevine that the visitors left a lot of money.

To beat the thugs, I think Mpesa makes a strong case plus all those funny old men who sit in the house and purport to “negotiate” for dowry do not have anything to divide at the end of the day.

For the record, I hate the chauvinistic Kikuyu marriage traditions but as a friend of mine told me, that is my culture and there is nothing I can do about it. But the best thing is that things are changing, I know of a friend’s father who can not discuss a family decision with a woman in the house. It is so frustrating.

Anyway, back to the tech business, I know it will be hard for the die hard traditionalists to accept it because it will be seen as impersonal but with the new way of conducting ceremonies, I think it will be faster and easier.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Microsoft vs. Toyota

This is Ndung'u of Microsoft EA, he fascinated me the other day when he suggested that Kenyans should quietly pay for proprietorial licenses for Microsoft products the same way they pay for the other services and products by Multinational Corporations.

He argued that Microsoft is no different from Toyota because they are all large corporations that have invested the money.

I wanted to tell him that when I buy my Toyota, its a one time affair and the Toyota Corporation does not send inspectors to ensure that my car runs on genuine parts or that my downtown garage is selling genuine parts. They only advice me on what parts to put and just like any other advice I can decide to heed it or not.

I found that to be a funny analogy....but maybe M$ should become like Toyota, sell the computers to cyber cafes, get a one time fee and then leave them alone for the rest of the computer's life.

It will be very innovative of the software giant.....