Econet, what’s with the SMS spam and “stealing” from me?

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I’ve lost count of the number of times my phone goes off because of an SMS related to services like instant news, online courses and job searches. I’m an Econet subscriber so I know I’m just one of literally, millions of people getting these texts.

What did I do to deserve this annoyance? Well, it turns out I subscribed for some of these services a while ago. I remember doing that for the Job Search service around the time it was still just a trial version. Dialing *170# and following the prompts is what did the trick.

Now hang on for a second, I also remember unsubscribing from that service, so getting any messages related to job search shouldn’t be the case. I unsubscribed because I DIDN’T WANT to receive CV tips and how-tos for my next job interview. The service is great, it just isn’t something I want. I even tried to unsubscribe from the service later, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t subscribed, something that made sense because I did unsubscribe after all.

When I asked around, I found a couple of other people that have been receiving these texts, despite not wanting the service either. The queries didn’t just stop with my chums, I took it up with Econet. According to their Customer Care team (I’d advise you to use their online chat, it beats calling 111 and being on hold for a lifetime) the service has to be discontinued by the Econet team. In other words, it’s easy to sign up from your phone, but you can’t unsubscribe from the service on your own.

It doesn’t end there though. Each one of these SMS alerts cost you 1 cent. It’s just a penny, right? You probably never noticed. But it’s still your money. If you get up to 40 of these SMS alerts in one month, that’s enough to make a call, hang on to another online service for just a wee-bit longer or send your own SMSes.

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I don’t know how many of Econet’s 6 million subscribers are signed up for this service, but if we were to assume that 1 million of Zimbabwe’s unemployed citizens tried the service, and they have been giving up 20 cents each to Econet every month, that’s a tidy $200,000 from people that might not want the service or even worse, don’t realise that they are contributing to a $2,4 million annual Econet slush fund. That figure is a huge part of Telecel’s total value.

Maybe it just sounds like I’m ranting because I’m annoyed by all those SMSes or because I gave up some money to an operator, but the real issue is how transparent an operator is supposed to be at the end of the day. Makes me wonder if all those complaints made every single day about Econet stealing airtime (they always blame background services and apps that use up your data) are unwarranted after all.

14 Comments

  1. Dock says:

    I noticed you can send a message to 33170 to unsubscribe

    1. SoTypMe says:

      That rarely works
      And no Nigel, you are not rambling. That service is terribly irritating.

    2. Nigel Gambanga says:

      Send dereg to 33170

  2. Ahhaa, the old age salami slicing trick. Your calculations which accumulate to the millions is what whoever made this system wanted. It not by mistake, but rather by design

  3. chokwadi says:

    you are right Nigel ,this abuse from econet has just gone too far,a whole 3 months of interview tip endless ,but no job.

  4. BNN says:

    I managed to shutdown those alerts to my number by blocking those 2 numbers that send those txts.

  5. Ryan says:

    I have never subscribed to any of these highly irritating campaigns, yet still receive several messages a month. Drives me up the wall. I didn’t realise that they were costing me. Your calculations are spot on, surely this isn’t legal? Unsolicited spam that we have to pay for!?

  6. modchivan says:

    that is a good observation . I also wonder if ever there is anyone who has won anything from the competitions on 3443 platform

  7. JamesM says:

    Econet knows full well that chances of anyone suing them for unsolicited sms spam that you can’t unsubscribe from are zilch. In other markets they would be sued to high heaven. Here they have friends in high places hence they behave with such impunity.

  8. JamesM says:

    Btw Techzim your new page layout may give you space for more ad dollars, but it sure as hell sucks.

    1. Dock says:

      Agree. Dont like the new layout

    2. pindile mhandu says:

      I totally agree, the layout looks upside down.

  9. Nathanjo Yomo says:

    I get far too many EW SMS texts that I have not subscribed for and don’t need. EW now shares the bully mentality with Zanu PF. Arrogance has also crept into EW big time. I wish MTN or Vodacom would buy shares in Telecel – that will eliminate both the arrogance and bullishness we’re subjected to by EW daily.

  10. Batman says:

    These people only know how to steal money from honest working peoples pockets,you have every right to complain,they started stealing money from my ecocash wallet now claiming i signed up for life insurance when i didnt even sign up,i am going to see them tomorrow to complain.I think its about time people stood up and complained,even better is for someone to sue them.

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