Orange Kenya and Airtel Kenya better forget ever catching up with Safaricom if the nasty experiences I went through yesterday remain unchanged. Although the experiences were caused by Orange Kenya or were as a result of searching for Orange Kenya services, Airtel Kenya has been accused of the same sh**t before and I am damn sure they haven’t changed a bit.
Let me calm down and narrate my experiences soberly:
For a long time I have been looking forward to testing Orange Kenya’s vs Safaaricom’s Internet side by side. In the course of last week I received a phone from Microsoft, the Nokia Lumia 930, and I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to use two phones; Nokia Lumia 930 running on an Orange Kenya network and my usual phone, Samsung Galaxy S3, running on my Safaricom line to finally compare the two Networks’ Internet services and opt for the better one. Yesterday was the day I got the much needed time to go shopping for Orange Kenya’s line.
But the shopping wasn’t to be easy. This is because Nokia Lumia 930 does not use the normal SIM Card; it doesn’t use the micro SIM card either – instead the Microsoft’s flagship device for the year 2014 is meant to use the smallest SIM card in the market, the nano SIM card.
To avoid walking up and down in search of someone who could either sell the nano SIM card or have the tool/skills to reduce my micro SIM to a nano one, I thought it is best to obtain the nano SIM card from a reputable Orange Kenya dealer or shop, but I didn’t want to travel far and that’s how Thika Road Mall (TRM) came to mind. Since TRM is a high end shopping mall, I assumed that Orange Kenya, Yu Mobile and Airtel Kenya must have shops there too just like Safaricom.
I made myself ready in minutes and before long I found myself at TRM, and I was quick to ask the watchman who ran a search on me to confirm that I wasn’t carrying any bombs, “Is there an Orange shop here?” “No”, he replied. “Airtel, Yu?” “Those are not here either”. “WTF?” I murmured. “So I have to go to town?”
Sadly yes, despite the big traffic jam that had piled up occasioned by the Githurai rioters who were demanding for the release of a police officer who is so good at implementing the shoot to kill order. Finally I found myself in town but not before two hours had elapsed. The time was 6.30pm. The only place near “commercial” bus stop that I thought I could easily obtain a nano SIM at that time was at the Jamia shopping mall…I went there and luckily I found the last guy dealing in SIM cards still opened.
I bought the SIM card, not for the standard 20 bob that Orange Kenya cards are being sold for but at Shs 350. He explained, “That includes 50 bob for the card, 200 bob for cutting it into a nano size, and 100 for registration”. Trust me, I wasn’t aware that cutting a SIM card to micro or nano size is that expensive, neither was I aware that the SIM card registration is no longer free. Well, I didn’t want to argue as I had suffered enough trying to get a place I can buy an Orange Kenya card and have it cut so I parted with Shs 550, the extra 200 bob being the Airtime to start me off with the new line.
It is so difficult to get Orange Kenya, Airtel Kenya, and Yu mobile services mtaani
Allow me to comment on the unavailability of services by mobile service providers mentioned except Safaricom. In this blog site we have tried to analyse reasons as to why Safaricom has remained the king of mobile telephony in the country for so many years in articles such as Airtel Kenya missed the point with price wars and Orange Vs Safaricom:- Let the War Begin. In these articles, we have talked about quality of services, network penetration, marketing strategies, diversification of products and services among others as the key strengths Safaricom has over the rivals. However, we have missed to discuss one important strength that the rivals have assumed to date: availing key services at customers’ door steps.
Safaricom has not only perfected its customer care services both online and offline, but has also ensured availability of some key services within residential estates for most urban customers. Take for example replacing your line if it is lost or just old; you can receive this service from a Safaricom agent not so far away from where you stay – you’ll hardly need to board a vehicle to be attended to.
But I was surprised to learn that it is not equally as easy to get most of these services that I had taken for granted when it comes to dealing with Orange Kenya. How easy is it for anyone to have a replacement line let alone buy a new one with Orange Kenya? Must one travel to town?
Then in most towns Safaricom has also tried to distribute its shops around. In the major shopping malls like TRM, Nakumatt Junction and others one can be sure to find a Safaricom shop from where s/he can be served quickly. But apparently the rest of the mobile network operators are missing in such important malls. Why wouldn’t Orange Kenya, Airtel Kenya and Yu mobile also have shops in places like TRM? How do they expect to compete against Safaricom if they are missing in such key joints? By the way, has Orange Kenya opened shop at JKIA? The last time I was there only Airtel and Safaricom had shops at the International Airport.
Pathetic customer care services by Orange Kenya
This paragraph from the article Airtel Kenya missed the point with price wars explains a bit what I mean by “pathetic customer care”:
Worse than Airtel’s is Orange’s customer care centers. The last time I visited an Orange office in Mombasa the setup was like an informal gathering where customer care representatives shout at each other across the hall and with sales representatives using the same hall as their meeting point, the entire experience was a keen to a class in whispers after being punished for noise making.
I don’t know whether that has changed for after the disappointments I had with Orange Kenya that made me leave them for Safaricom, I have not dared go back until yesterday. Then I discovered another pathetic way Orange Kenya treats its subscribers in this age of social media and prompt response.
The guy who sold me the Orange Kenya line asked for my details for the purposes of line registration which I provided. He did the registration as required and asked me to wait for two hours for the line to be on. He then cut the SIM card into the nano size and I inserted it in the phone as required. I then loaded the line with Shs 200 and luckily the airtime was accepted even before the line could be activated. Then I started receiving one message:
Welcome to Orange. To activate your line, register in the nearest Orange Shop or authorised Dealer/Agent. Your number is 0770 *** ***.
The problem is not that I received the message, but that I received it every two seconds meaning in one minute I had thirty copies of that message in my inbox. Surely, is it that I am (and the rest of Kenyans who go through the same) so dumb to read and appreciate the importance of that message if it is sent only ones?
No, Orange Kenya did not stop sending the message after the first minute – but they continued sending at the same frequency until I decided to chuck the SIM card from the phone five minutes later. Then three hours later, thinking that the SIM card registration process was complete, I put back the SIM card but to my disappointment the registration wasn’t through yet so the message continued to come in torrents. I persevered for about two minutes then removed the SIM card again, and sent Orange Kenya a tweet to their @OrangeKe_Care twitter handle. The tweet read:
@OrangeKe_Care I don’t understand why you must send more than 50 messages a minute to remind me to register. One message should be enough
— Odipo Riaga (@DeKenyan) September 9, 2014
If I had sent the tweet to @SafaricomLtd or @Safaricom_Care, I could have received a response in less than thirty seconds – doesn’t matter the time of day or night I could have tweeted them. However, up to the time of writing this article, @OrangeKE_Care hadn’t cared to respond to my tweet, despite being online by the time of tweeting them; at least via their other handle @OrangeKenya.
Orange Kenya customer care on social media can’t afford to work only during the day
There is another tweet that I sent to Orange Kenya but this time it was to their @OrangeKenya twitter handle. Instead of of sorting me out, the best @OrangeKenya could do was to forward my tweet to @OrangeKE_Care…and that’s it. This is akin to tweeting @SafaricomLtd and instead of getting a solution or at least a response from them, they instead decide to forward the complain or feedback to @Safaricom_Care – something that Safaricom never does.
The problem is not that @OrangeKenya had forwarded my tweet to their most relevant twitter handle but that @OrangeKe_Care had actually gone home. Going through the day’s tweets, it is easy to see that the last tweet @OrangeKe_Care did was at 5:06 pm – clearly indicating that Orange Kenya’s customer care in charge of sorting out customers on twitter all retire at 5pm until the following day.
This is not acceptable in this day and age. If indeed Orange Kenya wants to effectively compete with Safaricom, they must learn the strengths of Safaricom and strive to beat them at their own game. And as we have discussed here before, the most important strength Safaricom has against the competition is an effective customer care service.
Calling Orange Kenya vai their 100 customer care number from unregistered line is a stupid idea
By the end of the three hours, before I could tweet Orange Kenya, I thought it was wise to call Orange Kenya and ask them why my line hadn’t been activated despite registering three hours earlier. That was a stupid idea. Although Orange Kenya had accepted my Shs 200 to load in an un-activated line, they could not connect me to their customer care. The best the lady machine could tell me is that I cannot activate my line via customer care, that what I was needed to do was to visit a nearby Orange shop/dealer/agent to do the registration.
That was so annoying. The worst part is that the line had actually accepted Shs 200 yet I couldn’t use it – not even be able to talk to someone at Orange to assist with the registration process. What if there is a technical hurdle on the side or Orange that’s not enabling my line to be activated? How can they be notified? By calling them through another line probably at a cost?
Sorry Orange Kenya, both your unavailability in key joints around town and your pathetic customer care has forced me, for a second time, to abandon you – it doesn’t matter whether your Internet service is the best in town in terms of quality, reliability and cost, or not.