By the end of June this year, Kenyans woke up to the news that there was a way to mint free data and talktime through Safaricom’s Platinum and Flex products. Hundreds of Kenyans took the opportunity to take from Safaricom millions worth of data and talktime, a loss that was finally estimated to reach over 900 million shillings. Safaricom moved quickly to seal the loophole that made it possible to steal the huge amount of data, then erased the stolen data and talktime from those who hadn’t used them. We never received word on how Safaricom managed to recover the millions that were actually lost in data consumption and the free calls the Kenyans made. That was Safaricom Heist Season 1 that happened at the time of death of former CEO Bob Collymore.
Hardly four months after the Safaricom Heist, Safaricom experienced another heist today when they launched No Expiry data and airtime offerings. The No Expiry on data and airtime comes days after Kenyans shared widely an announcement by the Ghanaian Government that it is now illegal for telcos in Ghana to sell expiring data and airtime. Safaricom got tagged on the announcement through twitter in which it responded that they were not copied on the memo. Their response was definitely meant to be a joke, but they went ahead to hurriedly implement the Ghanaian new regulation on telcos, not knowing that a serious loophole through which Kenyans could steal data and airtime existed.
In the early morning hours of October 23rd, Kenyans got notified of a glitch in Safaricom’s network that allowed them to purchase endless data and airtime, which some took advantage of to illegally acquire millions worth of data and airtime. According to screenshots that I have seen, one person by the name Silvans Gard claims to have illegally acquired data worth shs 987 million and close to half a million worth of airtime – making his total purchase be shs 1.4 billion!
The other screenshot I saw was of this lady who managed to steal half a million GB (500,000 GB or 500,000,000 MBs) and airtime worth Kshs 150 million.
The messages from where the screenshots were taken seems to have been deleted, as I can no longer find them online.
Not so much has been said by Safaricom regarding the Safaricom Heist Season 2. What the leading telco in East and Central Africa is doing is to push the news on its introduction of none expiry data and airtime. Safaricom has actually gone ahead to update the Safaricom app, where in the new App there is the menu item called Data and Calling Plans.
In the new plan, what is happening is that one can purchase data and airtime of any amount, starting from Kshs 1 to no maximum limit. Once the airtime is purchased, there is no expiry on the airtime, or data bundles.
The offer for airtime currently is that if you buy shs 1 worth of airtime, you get shs 1.5 worth of talk time. Speaking during the launch of the offering, Michael Joseph said that for every airtime purchased, you will be able to get 50% discount automatically added to the airtime. It is not clear whether this discount is an introductory offer, or it is permanently part of the new data and airtime plan. In addition to the Safaricom App, both Data bundles, and Calls and SMS with no expiry are immediately available on *544#
“Over the last 19 years, we have come a long way together with our customers. As we celebrate our anniversary, it is a unique opportunity to reevaluate our operations to ensure that we remain relevant to our customers into the future. Today, we are starting afresh and going forward we aim to be even more Simple, Transparent and Honest in everything that we do. For our customers, we are a Safaricom that is there, For You,” said Michael Joseph, CEO, Safaricom.
The launch of the No expiry on data and airtime also comes with additional goodies. For example starting 1st November 2019, new customers joining the network will get SIM cards for free at Safaricom shops and dealer outlets, upon which a customer will top up with KES 50 airtime to activate their line. Customers will also have the freedom to choose a number of their choice when they purchase a new line.
Safaricom has revamped the *100# menu. In addition to the Data Manager where customers can stop their airtime from being used when they run out of data bundles, customers will also have the power to see and stop promotional messages. Customers can also view how much data they have used, get their PUK and much more on the new menu.
The company has also increased its data bundle sizes under the new plan by more than 45 percent especially for the more affordable price points of between KES 1 and KES 20. A customer purchasing KES 5 worth of bundles will now get 10 MB with no expiry up from 7 MB that would expire in 24 hours. Besides the measures introduced today, the company will announce more changes and enhancements to more products and services over the next few days and in coming months.