Skip to main content

How Safaricom clients are being robbed by PRSPs through hidden charges

The silent airtime deductions that are done by PRSPs
On Safaricom? Ever received an SMS asking you to subscribe to some service to listen to some mundane song, as if that stuff isn't available on the Internet for free?

If your answer to the above two questions is Yes, then you are probably paying your hard earned cash for that crap.


Remember that month you struggled to pay rent, or struggled to pay some medical bill, or school fee? Unlucky you, some chap somewhere is driving a Range Rover Sport 2013, which they have bought by charging you KSh. 30 every 3 or so days on your Safaricom line.

In a month, they'll charge you about Ksh. 300. They may be charging 1,000, or even 10,000 other fools like you, out of Safaricom's 18 million customers. 10,000 customers is just 0.06 percent, or 6 in every 10,000 Safaricom customers, and at KSh. 300 per month, that is just Ksh. 3 million every month.

The money is deducted quietly form your account, no text, nothing.

If you have been receiving such texts,
suggest you call Safaricom customer care
to enquire that you aren't subscribed to
the service, or use the self care
portal to confirm the same

You will only ever notice the deductions if you log into Safaricom's Self Care portal (https://selfcare.safaricom.co.ke) and go to Billing -> Recent or Unbilled Usage. Use the form provided and select a range of data to query your bill, which you can query for the last six months.

Carefully go through your records and spot anything that reads "Additional Services Charging  " with an accompanying charge of KSh. 30. <--- fellow="" highway="" is="" kenyans="" nbsp="" p="" robbery.="" that="">
Apparently, I was charged KSh. 30 on 17th of July, and again on the 15th of July and again on the 11th of July, and many other times since April.

The Safaricom customer care rep says that I subscribed to Roamtech, a so called premium rate service provider (PRSP). PRSPs are those chaps that put up adverts for ringtones, wallpapers and other cap that can be downloaded by dialling *somenumber# . They then charge you about Ksh. 10, or Ksh. 15, or Ksh. 20 or something daily, or every few days.

Half of the money PRSPs charge you goes to Safaricom for providing them with subscribers and the *something# number, known as a USSD number.

In this case, Roamtech somehow subscribed me to their service.

It's not the first time, long time ago, when I used to be on Zain, some other PRSP somehow subscribed me to their service. Then, at least, these robbers had the decency to send you a text informing you that they are robbing you of Ksh. 30 everyday. I called Zain customer care, which itself was quite a task, who then said I must have susbcribed, or someone else done so on my behalf.

Bullshit crap. I hadn't subscribed and I hadn't given out my phone either. They informed me how to unsubscribe, and duly informed me that my KSh. 30 or KSh. 60 lost could only be recovered from the PRSP. Since then, I never trusted Zain (They later sold to Airtel).

Fast forward to 2013 AD(Anno Digital), where on  hot Friday in July, I discover that Roamtech has been charging me KSh. 30 every few days. This time, they do not even have the shame to inform me that I'm being billed for every KSh. 30 deducted.

I only suspected that I was being billed when I started receiving spam from Roamtech on July 11th, first time they SMSd me from April, when they started billing me.

Safaricom customer care informed me that they could only unsubscribe me, of which I received a text informing me of the same.

Unsubscription, text received. Subscription - no text. Billing - No text. Smells of bull excreta, right?

For refunds, or to gather how I got subscribed, I had to call, or email Roamtech Robbers Limited on 0723 773869, or email them. Three calls later, chaps never pick, or return calls. Probably at some holiday resort somewhere, enjoying their hard earned cash.

The customer care rep say they cannot do anything. It's between me and Roamtech. This is the equivalent of  someone making regular, silent withdrawals on your bank account, and your bank claiming that you must have authorised the withdrawals, despite you never being informed of either the authorisation of any of the withdrawals.

And I'm not alone, as you can see from the below tweets.

Subscription through stupid adverts?
An emerging explanation is that people subscribe to these PRSPs through those adverts that you see online, especially on the Nation website (which appear not to be running now, but remember that "Aaliyah is calling" ad that mimics Skype?), that ask for your phone number. It is said that they send a text to your phone asking you to text back a confirmation. Those of us who have been victims of this high robbery are being asked if we did this.

Surprisingly, no. Of course I'm aware of such adverts, and most others who have been a victims of the scam say they have never entered their numbers online. So, unless, someone is entering our numbers on our behalf, and there are no texts either asking us to confirm our subscription. See the case below.
I recently encountered a case where someone did nothing to enter a code in any website and was subscribed. My sister-in-law who lives out of the country bought a SIM card 2 weeks ago and her airtime kept disappearing with these SMS's appearing. We went to Customer Care center at Sarit and she had to be unsubscribed from six of these short codes - and no explanation was given for a new SIM card all of a suddenly subscribing to all those services.
./Ok3ch
 It's clear that PRSPs are in some fishy business. Will Safaricom and other mobile providers just ignore as their helpless clients are "accidentally" robbed?




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Kenyans love Kigali (Part 2)

See part 1 of why Kenyans Love Kigali, which this articl is a continuation.

In my previous post on why Kenyans love Kigali, or Rwanda for that matter, I had mentioned on the security of the city. The post however widely dealt with the feel and appearance of the city, and a little bit of the country.

Both of my visits to Kigali have been through the airport, though you may opt for a more adventurous journey by road. Getting to Kigali then required a Kenyan passport, but no visa. Now, all you need to go through both Uganda and Rwandan borders are a National Identity Card.

For travel by air, Rwandair is a cheaper option for Kenyans as compared to our national flag carrier, Kenya Airways. Ironically, most other Africans get to Kigali via Kenya Airways, thought most Kenyans will opt for the cheaper Rwandair. The flights are comfortable and the service on board the 1 hour 15 minutes flight is great.

Depending on the weather, your landing can be quite full of turbulence in Kigali. The airpor…

A Kenyan in Addis Ababa (Part 2) - The "University Girls"

This post continues from Part 1. 

The residents of Addis are friendly too. On my first day, I did meet a guard at a hotel, who later offered to show me around. Among the places he suggested, was this place where some “University girls” were holding some "dancing ceremony". He added, that Ethiopians being Orthodox Christians, were about to go on a sex, alcohol and meat fast, hence the importance of this “ceremony.”
I had some suspicion that I was being sold to sex, but my guide insisted that this was not a sex sale. Just dancing University girls. We did end up in some nondescript compound, and into a house. There was sort of a sitting area, with a radio system, low benches and tables, and grass sprinkled around the floor. Grass sprinkled around the floor is an Ethiopian tradition that indicates you are welcome to a place.

It was about 5 PM,  and the hosts seemed not to be expecting any visitors at this time. My guide disappeared down some corridor into the back to call them. In…

Medicines in Kenya: Cure or Poison?

Many of us do not like medicines or visiting health centres, not that we have a choice. When one is sick, they have to visit a health centre. It's at the health centres that one is given medicines, drugs that are expected to cure the ailment.

Prevention, we are told, is better than cure. For this reason, some of us will visit the health centres for preventive drugs - maybe we are a malaria prone area and are trying to limit our exposure to it.

Looking at the health sector in Kenya, it is far from reaching the health for all status. The country , like many of it's neighbours, faces an acute shortage of doctors. The number has steadily been rising over the years as the government tries to train more doctors to bridge the shortfall. However, bridging the shortfall has been made difficult by many countries that are ready to pay a premium for Kenyan Doctors, hence luring them away from the country.

A ride on the new Nairobi Commuter Railway from Imara Daima Railway Station

Foreplay  Today morning found me walking to the bus stop as usual. This usually involves crossing the highway we call Mombasa Road, where we don't have foot bridges. Perhaps, there would be foot bridges if the government did not have to spend money on designing logos, branding stuff and Mercedes Benzes for visitors.
Government aside, I usually check if there are lots of people at my bus stop, and if so, do a 10 minute walk to the next one. See, our bus stop has too many people at peak hours which means you have to spent 30 minutes there or start off your day with a short run, after a bus.
Today, it did look busy, they didn't appear to be many people, but there were police officers. A lorry carrying ballast had tipped over by the side of the road, and this was slowing down traffic, probably people stopping by to watch. 3 officers, these are too many for an understaffed force  (in a country where dozens of them will line up the highways when the president is passing by?).  Mayb…

Kenya's South Coast: Modern Coast

My first fully awake day since I arrived form the Coast, South Coast specifically. Having arrived yesterday morning on a Modern Coast Oxygen bus, I spend most of the day and night in bed, catching up on millions of lost sleep hours. When one is in the South Coast, you do not waste away those precious moments on sleep.

I had joined hundreds of others at Diani for the Connected Kenya conference , where in between open bar cocktails and parties by the beach I spend quality time telling the world more about what was happening in the air conditioned Dr. Meister conference room at Diani Leisure Lodge.

I have been to the coast before, once. Last year I was covering some e-learning conference at the Aga Khan Academy. We were hen booked in at Hotel Saphire on the island. One one night, we did visit the Sarova White Sands on the North Coast. The Aga Khan Academy at the coast does not deserve to be called an academy. It is instead a castle with lawns that several of the top golf courses in the co…