There are several definitions of stupidity, one of them is that which is being practiced by banks and Safaricom that I once upon a time talked about in the article M-PESA is notorious in this. A paragraph in that article would help define the type of stupidity I am talking about:
M-PESA is notorious in this. I have the phone; I have the PIN, they still need an ID. No, they don’t require one to produce an ID if the withdrawal is via one of the over 1000 ATM points they have been busy promoting in recent years.
What am I saying? Isn’t my experience supposed to mean that Banks and their ilk do not trust the personal identification credentials they have provide for mobile, Internet and ATM banking? Aren’t they saying that any transactions carried out without production of an ID document means such transactions are carried out at customers’ own peril? Whatever logic it is that they are using for refusing mobile or ATM PIN verification process for over the counter withdrawals, I find such logic irrational.
The point is, if there is a method for delivering a service to anyone without a particular requirement, then such service should be delivered via the other method without that particular requirement if all other requirements needed for the first method can be provided.
As mentioned in the article Safaricom should help me get back my lost ID, I am prone to losing IDs and that means I do not have a National ID right now. I also didn’t have an ID on a day of 2013 when I needed to replace my Safaricom line. I went to seek help from Safaricom’s Care Center in Nakuru. I was helped.
The customer care lady, after apologizing that it would be hard to help me without the ID, listened to me when I explained to her that if I opted to buy a replacement line from a local shop, then called Safaricom’s customer care, the same customer care could have sorted me by asking me a few personal questions to verify my identity. I told her to ask me similar questions as the only thing that had changed is my physical presence – which actually is better than a phone call as through a phone call there is no way she could have placed a face to the voice. She listened, understood, and served me.
That’s why when in early August this year Equity Bank told me to go to my branch and physically apply for replacement of my Eazzy 247 PIN, I got mad and wrote the article, Equity Bank should copy Safaricom on resetting Eazzy 247 PIN. “Why can’t this bank be as efficient as Safaricom in customer care?” I asked myself.
The appreciation I had for Safaricom had to be spoilt this morning. Since I lost my ID I haven’t bothered to replace it, hoping that I won’t be mistaken for an Al-Shabaab anytime between then and getting a new one. So far I have lived OK only that last Thursday a policeman in Nakuru harassed me for not having an ID but I was able to convince him that I am a legit Kenyan without a bribe (yes some Kenyan policemen can be reasoned with).
But this morning I was disturbed when reasoning with a Safaricom’s customer care lady at Kimathi Street care center reached a dead end. While waiting to be served in the queue, a lady came to ask what service I required, “To renew my line” I answered.
“Do you have an ID”
“You can’t be helped”
“I have been helped before without an ID, you should be able to help me even today”.
“No you can’t be helped”.
“Well, last time I didn’t have an ID the customer care lady asked me a few questions the same way you ask when someone calls”.
“Okay, try your luck”, she said unconvinced as she went to serve the next customer in line.
Shortly after it was my turn to be served at the counter. I approached the lady in confidence, told her my problem, she asked for the ID, I told her I don’t have one, she said she can’t be of help, I explained to her about the question answer session, she opened her comp, almost started the process of solving my problem, then she changed her mind. She asked me to go and look for some identification even if it is a police abstract.
Trust me I didn’t like it. You know, I can still get my line replaced legitimately without having to produce an ID. I will only need to buy a replacement line from a shop near my house back in the estate, call 100 using another Safaricom line, have them ask me those questions they declined to ask in my presence, and they will activate the line.
So Safaricom, if it is not stupidity that defines your policy of not helping a customer who has come to your customer care without an ID, yet you do provide the same service to the same customer via phone simply by asking a set of questions, then what is it? What prevents you from implementing the question answer session when a customer presents himself physically to your premises? Could it be you reason that when a customer comes physically he is likely impersonating another but that impersonation in impossible via phone calls?