It is just a day since lawyer Adrian Kamotho went to court to get orders compelling mobile network operators to stop the practice of expiring data bundles after a certain set period. While it may be unrelated and the result of long term plans, there are early signs of victory for an issue that has bogged many a customer for the longest time now.
Safaricom has introduced new data bundles that do not have a pegged validity period. They don’t have an expiry date.
It is not data alone that is benefitting from the new arrangement whereby resources subscribers spend their money on don’t expire. Calls and SMSs are also part of the mix with all three – data bundles, call and SMS bundles – being made available through the shortcode *544#.
The new offerings, however, do not mean an end to all the other subscription options that Safaricom offers the over 33 million subscribers on its network. Those ones, which include voice, SMS and data bundles that expire, still remain. In fact, subscribers now have to choose between those and the bundles that don’t expire.
So, while one will be happy to purchase data bundles worth Kshs 100 that don’t have a sell-by date, they will be getting half of what someone else who opts for the Kshs 100 Giga bundle that expires within 24 hours, gets.
In some instances, however, the non-expiring bundles make some sense. For instance, Kshs 1,000 gets one just 5GB data that expires within 30 days under the All-In-One bundles that Safaricom announced at the start of the year. That is the same amount of data that one gets when they spend their Kshs 1,000 on the data bundles that don’t expire. Of course, there’s the small matter of not getting goodies like 2GB worth of free YouTube data and 6GB of free WhatsApp data in the event the bundle is exhausted before the validity period lapses.
The “No Expiry” bundles have been introduced as part of celebrations to mark 19 years of Safaricom’s existence.
Other goodies as the country’s biggest telecommunications operator looks to exit its teen years include a promise to serve customers in a record 5 minutes or less, free Wi-Fi for customers at all of the company’s over 50 retail outlets countrywide, using voice biometrics to effect SIM replacements and the ability to choose one’s preferred number when activating a new SIM.
The company has also re-organized its main customer service helpline short code, *100#, to make it easier to access self-service. Tips on how to manage one’s data, means to stop annoying promotional messages and spam texts, manage active subscriptions, stay on top of one’s data usage (very handy now that a solution we recommended, Datally, is gone from the Play Store), activate VoLTE, among others.
While marking its 18th birthday last year, Safaricom announced several goodies for its customers that included discounts and free voice minutes. It was also the time that it finally allowed its subscribers to reactivate expired data bundles and roll them over by subscribing to new bundles within a week.
A bonus to those that opt to go with the non-expiring call and SMS bundles is 50% extra airtime.