Friday, 19 July 2013

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?




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