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Why expiry of data bundles and Bonga points amount to robbery

Peter Ndegwa – CEO, Safaricom Plc

By Ephraim Njega

Imagine the bank imposing an expiry date on your bank balance. They tell you that any balance on your account after such and such a time will just disappear. Many would protest the absurdity.

Cases would be filed in court. MPs would scramble to pass the laws to reverse such a travesty. Yet this is the same scenario we tolerate when it comes to airtime, data bundles and now Bonga Points. I read that the MPs are probing this issue.

I wonder why a probe is necessary yet they can just change the law and outlaw such unethical and oppressive business practices. Some will dispute the analogy I gave in the opening remarks and say that Bonga points or data bundles can’t be equated to cash.

How so and these are not gifts? These are things you have bought with money. You are constitutionally entitled to their quiet and unencumbered enjoyment. How then does someone dictate when and how you can use them?

The arguments by Safaricom about the airtime, loyalty points or data bundles being a liability on their books of accounts are purely academic. There is no possibility that the customer will ever claim these things from Safaricom.

As far as revenue recognition principle is concerned, Safaricom should recognise the revenue the moment they take your money and transfer what you have bought to you. You don’t dictate how they will spend the money you have paid them.

Why should they dictate how you use what you have bought from them? I know someone will talk about the International Accounting Standards but we shouldn’t implement things like robots. We once used to have Kenya Accounting Standards. Maybe we should bring them back.

Safaricom isn’t the only company with customer loyalty programme. Other mobile network operators do, airlines do, supermarkets do. How do these other entities treat the points? Nobody forced Bonga Points on Safaricom. They can as well end them the way Airtel did.

Someone says that the terms and conditions allow Safaricom to change the product’s features at will. These are self defeatist arguments. This would amount to Safaricom playing god. There is no law which allows a company to rob its customers.

MPs should move with speed and stop this robbery on its tracks. Such injustices should never be normalised. The right to quiet enjoyment of ones property is enshrined in the constitution.


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