Safaricom has moved to restore sanity within the Premium Rate Subscription Services operations in its fold after a flood of comments from bitter customers dominated online conversation yesterday, insisting that the company was stealing their airtime.
Quite a number of them expressed dissatisfaction with how the company was handling the matter with some calling for the immediate deportation of Bob Collymore. According to some customers, their airtime disappeared mere seconds after loading their phones. For a long time, Safaricom has been blaming this on premium rate subscription services that their subscribers had agreed to but this was not the case as apparently they had subscribed to the services without their knowledge.
A particularly thorn in the flesh for most customers was the ‘Cheza Games’ which makes auto subscriptions. This is done the same way that the companies would auto subscribe customers t ringtones in the past. The Telco would conduct a lifestyle audit after which they would ask the PRSPs to reveal their marketing funnel. The PRSPs would then put advertise their ringtones all over and say that it is the upcountry subscribers who made the bulk of their clients. These were, however, forced subscriptions.
The unscrupulous place malicious ads on the opera mini homepages which then subscribe subscribers to ‘Cheza Games’ once you click the page.
In a press statement, Chief Executive Office of the telecom Bob Collymore said, ‘Our attention has is drawn to a number of customer concerns relating to involuntary subscriptions to Premium Rate Services. We continue to investigate these cases on a case-on-case basis and have reached successful resolutions with customers who have alerted us of such cases. However, we have noted social complaints that a number of subscribers have been erroneously subscribed to the ‘Cheza Games’ without their knowledge.’
‘In light of this development, I have committed to ensure that all customers who have been erroneously subscribed to the ‘Cheza Games’ service shall be refunded by the provider of the service for the amounts erroneously billed. We shall continue conducting investigations of all the Premium Service providers to ensure that our customers are protected and not exposed to such malpractices,’ he added.
Safaricom has vowed to continue educating its customers on the best way to manage their Premium Rate Services in addition to using their recently deployed intelligent system to automatically educate update customers whenever they sign up for any of the services . The system will also ask them to re-confirm their subscriptions.
The recently launched free-of –charge ‘My Subscriptions Manager’ which will help customers to regularly view and manage all their active subscriptions such as data , SMSs, Skiza and PRS. You use 1005# or 200%#.
Collymore also called on the Communications Authority of Kenya to exercise its oversight authority to constantly review the operations of the Content Service providers and de-register the ones defrauding customers.