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How we lost $20 to EcoCash and failed to recover it up to now!

Back in August, we decided to do a bit of undercover investigation on the state of e-commerce in Zimbabwe.

The whole idea was quite simple, with a budget of $20 we would purchase goods online and rate each platform according to their website ease of use, variety of products offered, payment options/system, delivery time and most important of all customer service/interaction.

The first e-commerce platform we tried out was Econet’s EcoShopper. Econet’s 1-year-old online shopping failure was an experience we continue to regret having tried out. After failing pretty much all our tests we were now burdened with the nightmare task of recovering the money we transferred via EcoCash to EcoShopper, a service already unfamiliar to most if not all Econet staff we interacted with throughout the process.confimation

From what we gathered the payment moves through quite a few hands, from you mobile wallet it is transferred to EcoCash itself who are then responsible for transferring it to National Foods, National Foods is then responsible for transferring the money to your selected National Foods depot so that when you arrive there the order is already logged in their system. We were alarmed to find out that a  transaction we initially assumed would take 1-2 hours would, in fact, take 2-3 days to reflect at its final destination/our collection point. natfood

After failing to get the goods since the tranasaction had note reflected we started the process of recovering the money from EcoCash. We made all the right phone calls, provided my name, ID number, transaction details, transaction codes and each time we had to re-explain what exactly we were trying to do. Unfortunately, my phone does not allow call recording, I would have uploaded some of the more hilarious conversations with agents to compliment this narrative.

By the time my calls had created enough confusion I was now receiving calls directly from EcoCash Head Office, flattering but not with time non-effective. Somehow throughout this whole ordeal, We felt as though a memo had been passed around EcoCash saying DO NOT HELP THESE GUYS! because of the negative but honest article we posted earlier.

We stayed strong in pursuit of our money. We decided a physical approach was now necessary so we visited an Econet shop and AGAIN explained the whole situation. The agent was very helpful but we could sense they no idea what EcoShopper was or what we were attempting to do in using it but helped nonetheless.

The agent made me fill out a form titled “EcoCash Debit Card: Dispute Claim Form”, we assumed a card dispute was seen in the same light as an EcoCash transfer dispute so we let them run the process. We scanned and emailed the signed form to EcoCash Head Office and was advised we would receive a call by end of day which we did, and had to explain once again what happened. By this time we started to feel like we were being accused of lying about the whole transaction as the questions turned from supportive to interogative.

The Head Office representative (by the way we have all the names) advised me that the money would be reversed in 2-3 working days. By the way, we were now in the second week of our “dispute” so we took his advice with a pinch of salt and proceeded to engage via aternative channels and landed on Econet’s Support via Twitter. img_4770-recoveredimg_4771-recoveredimg_4772

We sent them all the details via twitter Direct Messaging including the image of the form we emailed earlier that day and one of the agents seemed very eager to help us. However, the next morning when we followed up on the issue we realized that when agents change they seem to go home with all the issues. the new agent had no idea of my issue and requested me to resend the complete conversation with the previous agent. Complaint Log? Support Ticket? img_4773-recovered

We sent back all the information and waited to no avail, no response or call backs for the rest of the week. As the 3rd week rolled in our interactions with Econet Support and EcoCash became less friendly, it was becoming more evident my money was gone and in a suprising twist EcoCash called me to now say the issue is in fact not their responsibility but in the hands of National Foods, and that we should now approach National Foods so they reverse the money back to EcoCash.

Luckily we had the number of the National Foods agent and gave the EcoCash agent to contact directly. After an hour we decided to call him to ask if he had received a call and he said no calls PLUS the money hadn’t even reflected on their end yet. Double Blow, so where was our money?Who do we call now?

The EcoCash agent kept insisting it was now in National Foods hands and National Foods insisted there was nothing there so it was EcoCash issue, typical of Zimbabwean service industry to remove themselves from the responsibility of an issue even if it’s through their own systems.

The issue slowly died down as we reached a month without getting anywhere. Also, there was now a bit of “civil unrest” in the Capital so our attention had been shifted add that to the cash crisis which had everyone scrambling for cash it became apparent that this money was now forever lost.

What I learned from this experience is that in Zimbabwe, sometimes it’s pointless to get angry or frustrated with a store front agent or call agent because they really do not know what is going on upstairs. The movement of communication in private organizations is pretty much the same as command communication in the public sector, bottom-up never top-down. What makes it worse is that those in informed position create this buffer that makes them incredibly unavailable to both lower level staff and customers.

EcoShopper was unknown, its existence, its use, its purpose was completely unknown, we had to speak to more experienced staff who had some kind of recollection of it but still had no real grasp on the issue we had, basically nobody knew how to help.

This problem may be from our own cultural practices in Zimbabwe where “adults” regard themselves to be unquestionable and see no need to tell the younger generation what is happening or why they are doing certain things. It is only when situations turn for the worse they may realize it’s time to share to try find a solution. In an organization information and responsibility cannot rest in one man’s mind, it has to be shared for the collective good of the company.

It reminds me of the time when NetOne’s “The One” product came out. We called NetOne support to get some information on it but they had no idea what we were talking about, we had to tell them what to do to access the menu, and they THANKED US for giving them the heads up. NetOne customer support thanked TechZim for showing them a new product? What does that mean?

Up to now we have not yet received our money so to say we have a clear method would be a lie. I guess in our case the complex nature of the transactions may have contributed to our failure to retrive our money so the steps we followed could and should work for you. If you have any past experiences with retrieving money over any mobile money platform please share it with us, and any recommendations of how we could get our $20 back!




Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

23 thoughts on “How we lost $20 to EcoCash and failed to recover it up to now!

  1. Great article my guy, but I fear that you may have been blacklisted by the whole Econet system. Frankly, dont know what else you could have done!

  2. Many people have had their moneys vanish with this Econet thing. I for one will never use Econet because of the amount of money I lost in 2009. My husband was abroad, whatsapp was not yet there so I relied on SMS for easy communication as voice calls ha delayed speech, was exorbitantly expensive at a per minute billing of 43 cents per minute. I would send a message and it would not deliver yet Econet would still charge me 23 cents for each message I sent. I tried to get my refunds via 111 to no joy. Because I stayed far from Econet Shops I could not walk into any. I lost over $20 until I finally decided to move over to NetOne. I am still happy here and dont wish to go back the Econet route.

    1. i think they actually bank on people getting frustrated and dropping the whole issue. I once lost a dollar, yes 1 dollar, when trying to buy a bundle. I went there and they acknowledged the error. But it took them almost three weeks to give me back my dollar. Kept going there every 2-3 days and they would say we are “escalating” the issue.

      So when it comes to Econet, patience is a virtue

  3. Very very disturbing, yet we want to start promoting e-commerce and apparently we aren’t yet ready for it. However, I bought a smart watch 2 weeks ago on using my debit card and I received the product as expected without any delays or defects. This was my first time to use e-commerce in Zimbabwe and it was a nice experience.

  4. Gentlemen, you are crying over $20 when there is 15 Billion missing? Let’s be serious!! Kikk.

    On a side note, I had to wait a week and numerous calls to Steward Bank’s call center (111 is never answered) to get the PayPal pin when I had mistakenly verified a vcn card, so that I could get the refund of the amount charged to my account.

    1. its the principle behind it. Why should they steal my money and get away with it? Even if its a $1, its mine and they have no right to steal it. So why should I not ask for what is rightfully mine?

  5. This is no a unique problem to Econet only, but its common to all big companies worldwide. Econet and all other big companies are concerned with their profit margins, if nothing is affecting their margins, they will not act.

    Now, in other parts of the world where there is rule of law and regulators who enforce that law, a fine which hit very hard on profit margins makes big companies behave! Requlators will also make recomendations and changes which if not followed will attract another handsome fine.

    What Econet need is:

    Change management policies which are followed religiously(it should be easy since econet claims to be a god fearing organisation). This can be in the form of HelpDesk software which involve having a ticketing system. I saw this being implemented succesfully at TelOne.
    Regardless of your problem, all problems are loggen into the system and you are given a ticket number which managed centrally and progress can be tracked until the issue is resolved. The ticketing system will also be tracking who is doing what withing Econet.

    They also need a secure centrally managed system to handle transactions, ie refunds and purchases. It looks like they have a system which is happy to take money but very strict on giving out.

    This is where Potraz can come in and enforce audit trail of all transactional activities. It doesnt needs to be live. Econet is not willingly going to do this but some serious fines will make it jump. But this also needs to be applicable to all telcos.

    1. Great reply ever. You make alot of sense with this suggestion. I have experienced similar situations with Econet receiving money but strict to release the funds. A strange thing indeed. They need centrally managed system, that logs complaints and the last person who tool care of the issue so that there is no relation of explaining the query again and again.

  6. I can easily relate once there. Let us know as well how they resolve and how long it takes from today.

  7. I had a bad experience I bought a Zol spot wifi using ecocash.I did not receive the access pin and password. I was travelling and needed upload some stuff. I called ZOL there had not received my ecocash payment this is despite the fact that it had deducted.I called ecocash and was referred to zol.To this day I have note received my money or bundle I just got fed up and gave up!

  8. I normally prefer summarized articles but this one was an exception to my golden rule, and yes I finished it despite my busy schedule! It was hilarious, informative. It reminds me of how I also suffered at the hands of other SPs

  9. I doubt anyone who seriously uses Econet seevices hasn’t had at least one of these experiences. And no, it is not deliberate n their part: they simply have no clue!

  10. Had a very similar issue last year involving the Vcn card lost 36$ and failed to get it back till now, the issue was transfered from office to office and the higher it went up the ranks the more it felt like an interrogation than attempt to assist. It’s a fact Econet sells half baked products which their own staff are unaware of half the time but what really gets to me is the way they handle customer complaints. I remember in my issue one of the agent officers went as far as asking me why I was purchasing the product online in the first place???! I mean really? I wrote emails to 5 different people until the familiar rhetoric that it was now the responsibility of the company I was purchasing from. The surprising thing is the company I purchased could provide a paper trail of everything including the reversals but Econet could not! Thank you for your article I wish more articles like this come out to expose Econets incompetance!!!

  11. my issue is ecocash save, i transfared $5 from my wallet to ecocash save but the system is not saying i am not registered for ecocsh

  12. The bottom line here guys is that their policy is to avoid refunds at all costs, which is not right because these are hard earned monies no matter how little

  13. mbavha idzi dze econet they arre trained to steal yes ‘TRAINED ‘ HAKUNA ANOSHANDA KU ECONET ASIRI MBAVHA KUBVA KUNA MASIIWA

  14. Unlike some companies, Econet is actually a structured company that tries to minimize mismanagement of company resources. If any Jack or Jill could reverse your transaction with the click of a button, they would eventually lose money from dishonest employees. Every organization that wishes to be successful requires these structures in place.

  15. Please Econet ndokumbirawo, ndaita mistake yekutumira mari panumber dzisiridzo, ndaida kuisa pa0776969672 ndokubva ndaisa pa0776696672 saka ndapota ndoda kuti idzoke ku0773177852 nhasi ndatenda

  16. My money is still missing after cashing out with the wrong Eco cash agent code 50378 that was on the 31st of May , i was calling the eco cash nearly everyday receiving the same answer that the agent is not transacting, pliz eco cash do something with your untrust worthy agent and my no is 0773612598

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