Thursday, September 28, 2006

Celtel, Safaricom

Are Celtel & Safaricom milking our pockets dry? Talk is Expensive

If there is anything that gets to my nerves is Celtel Adverts. So today in the morning I saw a car with bright yellow and red colours screaming. Join. Our World.

And I couldn’t help wondering if Celtel has not hired a Tanzanian guy to do their adverts. No Kenyan advertising a Mobile Phone Company would come up with adverts such as those of Celtel.

And then does a Furahi day campaign saying calls are 11/= throughout the weekend. As I was preparing to buy a Celtel line it hit me I already call for the same amount of money in my Tarrific Tariff. Whither?

Losing out to Safaricom

I bought my first mobile phone in the year 2001. At that time the craze was Kencell. So you guessed right me and my family bought Kencell lines. And we enjoyed the clarity. But then the Per Minute Billing effectively killed Celtel. Friends from Safaricom would endlessly boast about Safaricom’s per second billing. Kencell subscribers felt cheated. You would talk for 1 minute, 1 second and get charged for the whole minute. By the time Kencell introduced per second billing, the damage was done.

In Kenya, there is one thing you cannot underestimate, the ability of family and friends to influence brands. The thing is mostly people communicate to their friends and families unless its business. So when we decided to ditch Kencell it was a major move. Everyone I knew who was a Kencell subscriber switched to Safaricom. Not even the poor network that persistently befalls Safaricom on Friday could re-switch the subscribers to Kencell.

Customer Service

Safaricom’s customer service may not be the best but it was always free. I cannot remember the last time that number 100 went through. Kencell started on a wrong footing of charging for customer service. I haven’t used a Kencell line for ages but the day the company decided to stop charging for customer service, it was crap. Enough said. Not to mention Safaricom’s numerous customer care centres in town which took Kencell a while to implement. Wrong start, AGAIN.

Campaigns & Social Responsibility

It is not lost to me how much money both Celtel and Safaricom are investing in these two areas. In fact every major event in town with massive media coverage has to be sponsored by either. Once Barclays’ shareholders complained that the company was spending too much on Corporate Social Responsibility.

CSR is too important to the society but can’t some of that money that Safaricom is spending on campaigns and CSR be used to lower down calling charges. Sometimes Safaricom will lay out for a whole week about 2-3 pages of adverts in the papers. And a whole page advert in the newspaper costs quite a bit! And yet we pay exorbitant charges to these mobile companies.

Don’t get me wrong, CSR is a major boost to the society but should it be at the expense of the customers. Does that not amount to Robin Hood theory? Some causes are worth, some are not. They have to put stringent measures to know which are. I am a strong advocate for CSR but my pockets are suffering.

This month I bought a magazine called Business Post courtesy of BKNN (Bankelele News Network). The EABL is worried that a Kenyan discretionary income is up for grabs. A person will now opt to buy a Safaricom Scratch card worth Ksh. 100 instead of a beer which will cost about the same amount of money. Of course that saves our livers.

But you see communication in Kenya is damn expensive! Telkom’s unreliability does not help. But again there is Flashcom and Popote wireless. Can everybody hook up with Flashcom or Popote and be home early then Safaricom will lower their charges. But we can work around that one too.

“Please flash me when you are home then I will call you back”

I am such a Kenyan!!!

Digression 1

Nakumatt supermarkets did a great job for the St. Francis Kids the orphan home in Karen. They donated 67 Mattresses. So CSR does help the society. Don’t get me wrong.

Celtel Launches a One Tariff

Peculiar Habits of the Kenyan people:

It is in itself a milestone for Celtel to launch a one tarrif for the East African Region. Though I don’t know why particularly the tariff was launched but my main guess would be to attract more customers. Safaricom and Celtel are in a cut throat competition for subscribers.

But there is this habit Kenyans have. They will buy two lines, Safaricom & Celtel. When its time to call Celtel they put the Celtel line. So my guess is as good as yours; when the Kenyan wants to call Celtel Uganda, they put the Celtel line, talk and slip back the Safaricom line.

Mr. Gerald (CEO Celtel), you just like Michael Joseph have to understand peculiar habits of the Kenyan people.

And Kenyans call during the night

Business men and high profilers hook the post paid deal which charges them Ksh.10 for each minute they talk.

Small digression
Imagine talking for one minute costs Ksh. 10, one hour 600/= and 24 hours 14,400/=. And you say Talk is Cheap!

The local mwananchi like me does not attempt to call during peak hours unless there is an emergency. I remember with nostalgia when calling after 11 p.m. was 5/=.

Please let us call after 11 p.m. for 5/=. Attention: Michael Joseph