Safaricom goofs…

Safaricom mobile phone subscribers now have reason to smile after the phone company promised to refund KSh260,000 to subscribers for 53,410 failed short message services that were sent to Telkom Kenya’s wireless network.

On Monday, Alex Gakuru, chair of the ICT Consumers Association of Kenya circulated an email requesting petitions by consumers to assist in filing a suit against Safaricom. “It has come to our notice that Safaricom is charging but blocking SMS sent to Telkom Wireless network. Charging for undelivered goods and services is
outright theft, and criminal acts under Kenya Laws,” read the email.

Three days later, Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph has been quoted in a media report saying the company “received a complaint.” Consumers complained that their network (Safaricom) accepts SMS from Telkom Wireless but when replying the sender receives a “message sending failed” report and money is deducted from the account.

“The important message here is not the amount to be refunded but that in principle we caught them in continued theft, forced them to own up and to agree to refund that what was stolen,” says Gakuru.

He says the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) should put in place mechanisms that report daily failed SMS volumes from all mobile operators to pro-actively protect consumers.

A recent Gartner study says worldwide revenues from SMS reached US$ 50b in 2006 they are expected to grow another 20% annually for the next 3-4 years and SMS
volume is expected to more than double in the same period (to over 2.3 trillion messages).

by Carol Kimutai

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