Nobody wants to pay twice as much as they did less than a week ago for the same service, so yes, the huge outcry from Econet broadband subscribers is more than just the usual whingeing about speed and customer care.
In case you missed it, over the weekend, Econet adjusted its Facebook, Opera Mini and WhatsApp bundles by introducing two versions, Lite and Extra. Both types of packages come with unlimited text (oh, wow) for all three platforms (Opera Mini, WhatsApp and Facebook) but Extra, which costs twice as much as what subscribers were used to paying for is the one that retains more download privileges.
According to Econet’s advertising for these bundles, the differentiation is meant to give light users an option to pay less. You still get some download privileges on the Lite packages, but there’s a very small data allowance. However, the frustrating bit is how the Extra packages also have data limits. Yes, you pay more and have faster internet, but there’s a limit to the downloads.
So if, for example, you pay $6 for the WhatsApp Extra, you are given up to 500MB of data and unlimited text for the month. If you use it up and still want to access those videos and images your friends are throwing on group chat, then it’s going to cost you. All this, plus a faster experience, is supposed to trump the $3 Lite package with its 200MB data allowance.
I get why subscribers are upset, and this limit on data actually makes it feel like it’s even more of a raw deal than just a 100% increase on price. But, rather than complain, maybe I should just pick other alternatives out there. If you are not happy with this, perhaps it’s time to consider these options.
Without speculating on the speeds that you’ll get from an Africom WiFi Hotspot connection, (please share your experiences if you use one frequently) Africom does score points off the bat with its offer for free WhatsApp if you are using its connection.
The fact that its WiFi vouchers do not expire means that the $3/225 MB voucher with free access to WhatsApp as an addition to a $3 Lite subscription trumps Econet’s Extra package.
There aren’t enough Africom Hotspots to ignite some sort of mass exodus from Econet, but if you have access to one, you’ll be fortunate to have it as an Econet alternative.
NetOne and Telecel
Both networks have their own social media bundles, with prices slightly lower than what Econet had us pay in the first place. Telecel had a free data offer when it launched its bundles, but even without that offer, it still sounds better to pay $2.85 for WhatsApp or Facebook bundles. NetOne has even gone as far as offering a monthly $5 combo for both Facebook and WhatsApp bundles.
The usual complication of crossing over to the other two networks and changing your phone number used to be something relegated to a number portability directive from the industry regulator, POTRAZ, that never came. Fortunately, both NetOne and Telecel now have workarounds that let you keep the last 6 digits of your phone number if you join their networks.
These options are just examples of what you can try out if you are frustrated by the reduced value for money that Econet is offering on its bundles. Sure, each option has its weaknesses, but using at least one beats just ranting about it.