Two months ago I wrote an article to explain how the deduction of Airtime by Safaricom without permission amounts to stealing. It touched many. There are those who sent feedback narrating how they on several occasions lost hundreds of shillings through airtime consumption when their data bundles had run out. A few weeks after the article was published, Kennedy Kachwanya caught up with Bob Collymore to among other things ask the Safaricom CEO if they were aware of the anomaly. Mr. Collymore promised Kachwanya that they’ll work on a solution. Two months after that article was published, Safaricom has now responded to the outcry and today henceforth you can manage your data through “My Data Manager” by dialing *544*5#.
The introduction of My Data Manager under the Data bundles short code is one of the best news to the millions of us who use Safaricom network to access the Internet. With data bundles, many like me browse at Kshs 0.267/MB, a figure that shoots 30 times to Kshs 8/MB when the bundles run out. For someone who consumes around 40MBs per hour, the amount of money spent per hour on data bundles is a Kshs 10.68, but that would shoot to Kshs 240 per hour if by bad luck they do not receive the notification that the data bundles had been exhausted. The best way to manage this therefore would be for Safaricom to disable browsing using Airtime whenever data bundles run out. But they have done done something even much better.
If Safaricom was to completely disable browsing using direct airtime, then they could have locked out a few of their customers who for some weird reason would prefer browsing using direct airtime. That weird reason is that browsing using direct airtime is several times faster than browsing using data bundles. So what Safaricom has done by introducing “My Data Manager” under the USSD code *544*5# is to allow anyone to Active data manager which stops you from browsing using Airtime, or deactivate the data manager which will again allow you to browse using Airtime.
The other three options under the “My Data Manager” short code are the ability to check for the current status of your data manager (option 3), ability to activate/deactivate data on another number (probably this is important for lines used on modems – option 4) and to check out some of the Frequently Asked Questions (option 5). One of the Frequently Asked Questions is the Introduction that provides that “My Data Manager” is a service that ensures that you are not billed on Airtime whenever data bundles run out.
This is the second time Safaricom has quickly responded to complaints originating from some of the articles we have written. The first time was when Safaricom got rid of the night shift bundles that we criticized as completely useless and frustrating. We hope that soon Safaricom will also respond to other issues we have raised including the issues surrounding their pricing of MPESA services.