Econet Wireless is currently carrying out the final tests of a payphone ‘call me back’ service to be rolled out by end of this month. According to Econet’s Corporate Communications Manager, Ranga Mberi, the service is targeted at low income and rural subscribers who may not afford making calls on the network.
The announcement was made in a story published on the Econet investor relations website today. “As most people in Zimbabwe are on the Econet network, the new service will allow most people who live in rural areas, or are unable to own their own cell phone, to send messages to relatives, to call them back, for free. It is also expected to be very popular with students, and other young people, who need to contact parents urgently, but may not have money,” explained Mberi.
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The service will be available at the numerous Econet phone shops spread throughout Zimbabwe. A person making the call request will not be charged for a ‘Call-me-back’ to an Econet number but will pay the equivalent of a 1 minute call (20 cents using Econet coins) for a ‘Call-me-back’ to a non-Econet number. Quite expensive actually when you think of it: A normal SMS, where you can say much more than just “please call me back”, will cost less than half that. Clearly, for non-Econet numbers, the ‘Call-me-back’ route is one you’d probably not want to consider for now.
Nothing said on how many ‘Call-me-backs’ a single person will be allowed a day, probably because a limit would be unenforceable. ‘Call-me-back’ SMS services are typically a win-win for the subscriber and network operator. Subscribers win a free SMS, albeit a non-customized one. The mobile operator will obviously get more calls to take to the bank.
The single problem that might bug this otherwise convenient service is the guy who takes his time to call back, and gets the “I’m sorry, the guy who requested this call left 30 minutes ago!”