#MondayBlues: When a paltry 30cent charge haunts Econet

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In a typical case of failing to practise what you preach, Econet Wireless faces a $50 000 lawsuit coupled with a peaceful demonstration to be staged on November 28 this year.
Who would have known that a paltry 30cents of WhatsApp Daily Bundles could get a large corporate dragged to court?

By Bee Sting

While at least 10 million subscribers have been in silence letting the largest mobile network carrier swindle their data, finally one Harare woman had the guts to ‘man up’ slapping the company with a US$50 000 lawsuit.

#MondayBlues would like to say “Kudos” to Ms Sihle Maxine Mabuda for standing up to Econet’s swindling gimmicks.
Grippingly, Ms Mabuda would not be the first to complain how their WhatsApp bundles miraculously deplete when their stipulated time is not due. Most people do!

The Harare woman slapped Econet Wireless Zimbabwe with a $50 000 lawsuit for allegedly hoodwinking its clients through its much trumpeted WhatsApp Bundles that apparently barely lasts a day in normal use.
Ms Sihle Maxine Mabuda has already successfully attained a police clearance to stage a peaceful demonstration against the largest mobile network in Zimbabwe on November 25, 2016.
In her declaration, Ms Mabuda, posits that Econet was misrepresenting the duration of its data bundles as a marketing ploy.

“The defendant is misrepresenting the duration of its data bundles, in particular the daily WhatsApp data bundle. Defendant advertises that it is unlimited for 24 hours yet it is limited to 20 megabytes data.
“As a result of the misrepresentation by the defendant to its clients, including the plaintiff, the plaintiff was inconvenienced because she failed to talk to her daughter in South Africa through phone,” reads the plaintiff’s declaration.

After checking with the Econet offices, Ms Mabuda noted that she was informed the whole issue was a marketing tactic to lure clients.

“After a protracted argument with the defendant’s customer care desk, officials through the phone, she (Ms Mabuda) was asked to go to the defendant’s Livingstone Avenue offices where she had a meeting with Econet’s manager for Chisipite branch and other officials.
“They told her that Econet Daily Bundle does not necessarily mean that it is supposed to last for 24 hours contrary to their message which is displayed on the phones and Potraz was aware of such a marketing strategy,” reads the declaration.

On May 25, 2015 Econet made the biggest blunder when it announced its “Revamped Social Bundles” as a holiday present, an Africa day gift to its subscribers.

The Light bundles maintain the traditional and cheap tariff but allows buyers few megabytes of media downloads with sluggish speeds.
The new version bundles, called Extra, allow downloads and a have faster speeds than their cheaper, older siblings. The cost, however, is as good as double on all packages.
WhatsApp Extra is pegged at $1, $2 and $6 for the respective daily, weekly and monthly bundles. Opera Mini Extra is going for $1 for unlimited daily access and the 3-day access bundle is set at $2. For Facebook bundles, Extra costs $2 for weekly access and $6 for monthly access.
WhatsApp calls are not available on both Light and Extra versions and the same applies to Facebook Messenger calls. For those two, you need data bundles or actual airtime.

It would seem Econet has just put the old price tags on services that they have been garrotting and denying that they have been anyway, and started us on a new data pricing regime that makes economic sense for all the data we use for the bundled services.

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Head Office

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Head Office

For WhatsApp and Facebook Light the weekly bundle data is capped at 60MB 15 MB, while the monthly does not exceed 200MB. The daily whatsapp lite bundle is pegged at 15MB.

The WhatsApp and Facebook Extra, has its data fixed at 100MB/day, 250MB/week and 500MB/month.

“The social media bundles you have grown to love have been revamped! There are now light and extra bundles to choose from.
“To ensure that you enjoy an enhanced experience, there are now light and extra bundles to choose from. Subscribers can now enjoy new and improved Facebook, WhatsApp, Opera Mini bundles. The new social media bundles are designed to cater for your needs and ensure you have the best social experience. If you reach your data threshold for the month within the bundle, they can continue to experience unlimited texting.

“Enjoy the new and improved social media bundles!” read the ad on the Econet website.
That was the blunder which sparked a Tsunami magnitude outrage with most venting their disappointment with the corporate on social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
It is one of those moments when fiddling with brand loyalty causes such a stir among Econet’s subscribers
Some posts on Facebook read, “Econet Wireless, Inspired to Rob your pockets, Dry!”
From the survey of reactions by Econet’s subscribers on social media, the telecoms company is likely to lose a large chunk of its customers who have been feeding the company with data revenue.
There is also another hilarious message which circulated on WhatsApp which said, “Don’t be surprised to hear Strive Masiyiwa (Econet owner) saying he uses Telecel or Netone because Econet is expensive.”

About Author

Kudakwashe Pembere is the Assistant Editor at Technomag interested in seeing our Zimbabwe's Science and Tech reach greater levels. For feedback and suggestions WhatsApp me on +263734337076, Call/SMS: +263778202463/+263718737076 Email: kuda@technomag.co.zw

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