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


  1. Kairitu, have you noticed any changes in the Celtel radio ads?

    And I think the ad of three fishermen in boats with different flags was ok.

    Celtel advertising has sucked for a long time but I hear they're trying to change things. Let's see how that goes.

    Oh, and do you think their colours (red and yellow) are off-putting? As in do people respond better to Safcom's green?

    I know you're a peculiar Kenyan but please be objective in your answers.


  2. my dear dont get excited about the east africa network thingy because i gotte txt this morning. Being their loyal customer, dutifully clled to enquire does that meani can cal my clande in Dar for 15kshs. sadly not just yeat stll at 40 bob per minute so am tld it only meas that you can now roam east africa ad the sim picks it up automaticaly . for me i dont care lower the damn rates who said i cannot afford a sim card in Ug or Tz when there they are like 50kshs uh bugger off ....

  3. I will only comment on the Sfaricom advertising. A sort of open secret that Michael Joseph is the majority Shareholder of Redsky the advertsing company that manages the Safaricom brand. It is in his interest for the company to buy advertsing space at any cost.

    Do you know the brand with the largest advertising spen as a percentage of turn over? You guessed it;- Safaricom

  4. These are intersting times in the mobile sector - "you have cheap calls on sunday, mine will be on friday, you have 50 bob cards, mine will be 40, only way you'll get more subscribers is by promising them a porshe and an audi too"
    Talk is expensive, but people adapt and which is how peculiar call habits come about. I was happy about Saasa till I realized it was a new tariif I'd have to migrate to. They should brign back those 11 PM calls
    On CSR: At the BC lunch, a Uni professor told CEO that Safaricom's best CSR would be to lower rates - to which the CEO replied that his shareholders come first, and the company has to remain profitable to reivest and grow.
    Ms. K I like S'com green over C'tel's yellow & red, or kencell's Pink
    Gish: I don't who told Celtel that we all travel all over East Africa daily

  5. Celtel vs Safaricom is really one hell of a competition though we know who stands out the most...

    I agree with ya'll that they should bring back the after 11pm calls. Used to receive phonecalls at 2am!!! Kenyans and their queer habits!!

    Kencell adverts used to be very good. Much better than for safaricom in my opinion. After it changed to Celtel....I detest those Ads. They look so not kenyan...n not one I look 4ward 2 watching. Safcom ads r better than they used 2 but the 1 that cracked me up most was for the granny doing some stunts....30 millionaires in 30 days....
    N celtel needs 2 change their colours!

  6. It's daylight robbery!!! I pay a thousand shillings for 1000...yes one thousand texts, both international and local and calls are 10 shillings a min! My bill never goes above 2000shillings a month. So the communication charges in Kenya are ridiculous!! shetani's!!!

  7. CSR my foot! When Barclays or Safaricom or EABL do anything remotely like CSR it's just another innovative way to build their brands. I mean, a one hour program on the Lewa Marathon with runners wearing safaricom t-shirts telling us how safaricom has helped them ...

    Still ... I guess we might as well benefit when one hand scratches the other

  8. I think I should fix a telkom landline now coz very rarely do my fone ring during the day and if it does it is a text only rings past 8pm.

  9. @Ms K, i haven't listened to radio for ages. I will check that out. Green is not a favourite colour of mine, red and yellow is not all that bad. But the slogans!

    @Gish, interesting thing is you would think one rate means 15Ksh.

    @no rhyme, hey thats a new rumour. Where did it come from? Though i gues it would be a possibility

    @Banks, i used to love the 5/= days.You mean you cant buy a sim card for Saasa?
    So what do the s/holders of safcom want?

    @unyc,the only kencell i remember is when the safcom one had jammed.

    @kipepeo, i love your option, it is much better 1000 times, can you imagine. gosh those leeches

    @M, of course you saw the media coverage part. I might as well ask for some csr budget, right?

    @nakeel, yeah i am thinking further about it.

  10. safaricom prides in the fact that it overshadows celtel while the latter is too much in love with its products and its corporate image to do any real marketing ... and the way Michael Joseph speaks it is like he is not scared of anything ... such an attitude is not healthy in a competitive business world ... or may be he is too pre-occupied with the fact that he is to retire in two years time and engage himself in conservation like he said he would ... all the same, i hope there will be a good turn in the corner for both companies

  11. Hi guys ,this is my 1st tymhere but av to agree with you there.Those Celtel ads total SUCK!Surely wat's their ad agency doin abt it?
    As 4 Safcom &CSR enyewe this guys do alot.
    Its only juzi juzi that Celtel started seein the LIGHT in that dept!Alafu their tarifs,this guys need 2 do alot of homework!