The deduction of Airtime by Safaricom without permission should be stopped

It has been defined that “to steal” means to “take another person’s property without permission or legal right and without the intention to return it”. Given that definition, then there is a form of theft Safaricom has been practicing ever since the conception of data bundles that we have ignored, and this robbery by Safaricom must be put to a stop.

Let me give you a very clear picture. I normally buy the 7.5GB 30-days data bundles that Safaricom sells for shs 2,000, data that in normal months serve me throughout the 30 days without a problem. However, in the last two months I have noticed a serious anomaly with my line – Safaricom didn’t bother to warn me when my bundles were about to be exhausted – only realizing that I had run out of bundles when I could no longer access the Internet.

For the first time I thought that it was the normal Internet outage that occur once in awhile, but after several minutes of waiting, the Internet wasn’t coming back. I then decided to make a phone call as I wait for the Internet to be back, but that couldn’t happen either – reason being my browsing had not only exhausted by data bundles, but also consumed the airtime too – I lost shs 220 worth of airtime that day.

Also read: Safaricom is currently offering the best Mobile Internet in Kenya

Two days ago my bundles ran out again but this time I was lucky the airtime credit hadn’t run out – I only lost shs 25 worth of airtime. In the last two months therefore, Safaricom has robbed me of shs 245. One may argue that I wasn’t robbed because I had received something in return – access to the Internet. Given that Safaricom charges shs 8 for every 1MB of data accessed via normal airtime credit, the shs 245 allowed me to access only 30.625MBs – data that could have cost me shs 8.17 ONLY if I used the standard 7.5GB for shs 2000 data rate – meaning that I lost shs 237 simply because Safaricom automatically defaulted to airtime deduction to allow my phone to access the Internet immediately my data bundles had been exhausted – if this not a form of robber by Safaricom, then, what is it?

This is why the system that automatically defaults to the consumption of airtime to allow access to the Internet when bundles run out is robbery by Safaricom – with or without warning that data bundles are about to be exhausted: Nobody who buys data bundles from Safaricom or elsewhere intends or is willing to use direct airtime to access Internet services. Mobile subscribers who have made a conscious decision to buy data bundles have expressly permitted Safaricom to deduct a given amount of money e.g. shs 2000 in exchange for a predetermined bundle size e.g. 7.5GB, and when those bundles run out, those subscribers are not willingly paying for the exorbitant fees for further use of Internet services.

Also read: Where is Safaricom getting the huge profits from?

The other obvious factor that defines this act as robbery by Safaricom is the fact that whenever subscribers have detected that their bundles have run out and were accessing the Internet via direct airtime credit, they normally regret the “negligence”. To prevent this robbery by Safaricom therefore, I recommend as follows: that Safaricom rolls out a method through which subscribers can choose to 1. Access Internet via bundles only 2. Access Internet via Airtime only and 3. Access Internet via either bundles or airtime.

The same methodology has been deployed by smartphones’ App Stores. These stores e.g. Google Play will usually automatically download upgrades for Apps when they detect that you are on a Wi-Fi connection (normally assumed to be free), but will ask if you are okay with downloading the upgrades through metered data. When it comes to downloading upgrades to the OS e.g. a new version of Android that sometimes may run in gigabytes, the smartphones default to Wi-Fi ONLY – and for you to download the new OS via mobile data you must go the settings in order to change the default download option from Wi-Fi ONLY to Wi-Fi or Mobile option.

When it comes to mobile service providers, they should treat data bundles the same way the smartphones treat Wi-Fi  connection and in like manner treat direct airtime credit the same way smartphones treat mobile data. This means that the mobile service providers like Safaricom should not automatically default to airtime consumption for Internet access immediately the data bundles run out, but should give you the choice as a subscriber to continue using the Internet via airtime credit or wait until you have purchased additional data bundles.

I hope someone from Safaricom listens and takes action – otherwise it is important for you to note that this tendency is a form of robbery by Safaricom that should be stopped.


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