Outrage greets Safaricom’s caps on data bundles
Consumers and rights activists have protested against Safaricom’s decision to change policies on usage and distribution of data services on its network.
The company has capped its data transfer service Sambaza Bundles at 20Mb from a previous limit of 999Mb. It has also reduced the shelf life of data bundles, setting an expiry date with each one bought.
The telecommunications service provider announced the measures alongside a review of its data bundle prices in a move aimed at curtailing the reselling of data that has been going on.
The Consumer Federation of Kenya has urged the telecommunications service provider to reconsider the move.
“We have received hundreds of complaints through email, the phone and even letters concerning the matter. We believe it is a counterproductive experiment. Once you sell something, you cannot decide after the sale how soon it will be consumed and how it is to be consumed,” said the federation’s Chairman, Mr Stephen Mutoro.
He added: “The Consumer Protection Act outlaws false representation because there is a difference between selling and leasing a product. A lease allows a company to decide on usage while a sale does not. The company should clarify on this matter since most consumers understand that they are purchasing data bundles.”
The official also said the organisation would be seeking redress for affected consumers.
We have filed a complaint with the Competition Authority concerning the matter and will pursue legal action, he added.
Mr Phillip Musyoki, a customer, has started an online petition against the move by Safaricom on the website Change.org, which has collected more than 160 signatures in three days.
Mr Musyoki’s petition says the data limit will make communication harder for consumers with several internet-connected devices who want to manage their bundles.
The petition also requests the Communications Authority of Kenya to study data pricing and put regulatory measures in place to protect consumers from service providers.
Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs Nzioka Waita has said the firm began putting limits on data distribution services to protect its customers from unscrupulous data resellers.
“Safaricom introduced the new internet bundles as part of its commitment to making data affordable and more accessible to the majority of Kenyans,” he said.
“The introduction of a limit to how much data can be shared is intended to protect our customers, who have fallen prey to exploitation by individuals who claim that they can sell them data, but often fail to do deliver on the promise,” he added.
He said the company plans to revise the current data expiration period.
Airtel and Orange currently do not allow users to share data bundles between different accounts on their networks.