There are several advantages that come with owning a twin SIM phone and that’s why today almost everyone owns one – but as they say, everything has a downside. The downside of a twin SIM phone is that when it gets lost, you lose both SIMs at once. I lost three 1. Safaricom, 2. Airtel and 3. Equitel. The Equitel one was kept under the battery. That was on Saturday evening a few minutes before midnight. One thing you don’t want to do is to lose a phone on a Saturday evening as, whether you get a new phone first thing early morning of the following day, you still gonna spend the whole of your Sunday offline, unless you are a Safaricom subscriber.
If you are a Safaricom subscriber it is very simple to get back online. You’ll only need to walk around your neighborhood to find that guy selling Safaricom replacement cards. Don’t you worry if the guy won’t be able to do the replacement for you or if you can’t remember your lost SIM card’s original PIN. What you need to do is to get a working Safaricom number and dial 100. If you do not reach them or you are unable to get a working Safaricom number, then tweet or facebook them, they will call you back in no more than five minutes and before the sixth or the seventh minute elapses, your Safaricom line will back on – and that depends on whether you know the answers to most of those questions they normally ask in order to verify your identity.
But if your lost line is an Airtel one, then you will need to wait until Monday and even when Monday comes, having the line replaced won’t be a walk in the park. Foremost, it will be hard to get some business man or woman selling Airtel replacement lines. In Nakuru there is only one guy doing the replacement. I walked into the shop, asked for replacement services, and I received a no for an answer – reason? The system was down.
I walked out. Then walked back in, asked to be given the replacement card so that I can call the customer care to do the replacement for me, they declined stating that I can’t do the replacement by myself. How inconveniencing. I asked Airtel on Twitter why I couldn’t have their customer care sort my line by either calling or tweeting them and they responded, “Unfortunately this can only be done at any of our shops as we do not do online registrations”.
Two days passed, I still didn’t have my Airtel line back online, despite the line being my primary line for calling and accessing the Internet. This forced me to revert back to Safaricom although I had degraded the line as an MPESA only number. On Wednesday I traveled to Nairobi, decided to spend a night so that I could sort out my Airtel mess on Thursday. After visiting two Airtel shops who couldn’t be able to bring back my line online, I ended up visiting their Koinange Customer Care Center. I got sorted but not immediately. Apparently my number didn’t exist in their system. Four hours later, the line came back online.
It took less than 12 hours for the Safaricom line to be back online but 5 days for the Airtel line to work.
Related Article: This is how you will lose money on Airtel Unliminet
Equitel is worse
No I haven’t confused Airtel with Equitel, this article is meant to warn you against losing an Equitel line. Although you’ll go into some trouble trying to get your lost Airtel line replaced, the trouble multiplies tenfold when it comes to an Equitel line. This is why:
To have your Equitel line replaced, you will foremost have to visit an Equity Bank Branch. I am not sure whether every single Equity Bank Branch offers Equitel replacement service, but I am sure they are not as widespread as Equity Agents – Agents of which do not sell the Equitel lines let alone replace the lost ones.
At the bank branch you will have to queue twice – no thrice. The first queue will be to pick a form – a hard copy form that will require you to fill in your details including your name, account details and signature as if you are applying for a new Equitel line. I don’t really know what they need those details for yet they already have them in their system.
Then you’ll queue again to hand over the form. Assuming you spent 10 minutes in the first queue, you’ll spend 5 minutes on the second one. The purpose of the second queue is to have Equity staff write an account number on the form after verifying your details against your ID, then she’ll ask you to join the third queue.
The third queue is the Bank’s Deposits queue. The purpose of this queue is so that you can deposit Kshs 100 as an Equitel line replacement fee. In most Equity Bank branches, this queue is one and the same as the withdrawal queue – meaning the queue will most likely be more than two times long compared to a deposits only queue. You won’t be required to line up for an hour or more to make a simple Kshs 100 deposit because your account balance is reading zero, but because that’s what Equitel wants you to do – it doesn’t matter whether you have a million plus one shilling collecting dust in that account – you still will have to join the queue to waste your precious time.
After you are through with the queues, you’ll head back to the Equitel desk, probably queue up one more time to hand over the form and the deposit slip, and wait. This time if lucky you may wait while seated, but you will have to wait for no less than thirty minutes. This time you will be waiting for your name to be called, and your name will be called only when they are done reactivating your line. I waited for one and half hours.
And that’s why I ended up wasting my entire Thursday afternoon trying to get my Equitel line replaced – a process that takes less than a minute on Safaricom.
These (Airtel, Equitel and Orange) are the very guys who cry foul that Safaricom’s dominance should be checked – bure kabisa.
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