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Econet And Cassava Have Gone Too Far, Deducting Our Money Without Consent Is Criminal

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Yesterday I woke up to this SMS message from EcoSure:

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Your initial premium payment of $1.00 failed. The premium should be paid by 29-Feb-20 to complete your EcoSure Lite registration

I did the stupid thing of ignoring it and just thinking ‘well maybe I was testing something on EcoSure some time ago and I subscribed now they want me to pay.’

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An hour later I saw a colleague publish that EcoSure had subscribed Econet customers without their consent and more than that, they had deducted money from their EcoCash wallets, again without consent or at least the pretense of asking for consent.

So the only reason a dollar was not deducted from my EcoCash wallet is that I didn’t have any money in there.

The aggressive push

There is a very evident aggressive push for the market at Cassava especially and at Econet. This is leading to road side agents who are lying about the specifics of the apps they are pushing people to download. They really don’t care because they are paid $5 when they get a person to download the four apps.

Half trained agents are calling people asking for their email passwords. All to get folks to download and register on the Vaya app. The millions of Econet subscribers are being spammed every day. If you opt out of receiving their promotional messages, they only stop coming for a few days and they start coming again.

It feels like we committed a crime by being Econet subscribers. Do they think they have done so much for us that they can send us any message whenever they want, call us at whatever time and ask us for our passwords and then subscribe us to their insurance service unilaterally and take our money?

It’s not a system failure

Econet or Cassava should not even think about taking out big bold newspaper ads blaming a technical glitch for yesterday, the EcoSure incident was not a system error. It would be scary if it were. A system that can randomly start subscribing people to a service? It was a bad judgement call. To be honest, that person should lose their job.

There is this mantra that says it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than asking for permission. This is one of those silly cliches we quote blindly handed down to us from Silicon Valley. No, it’s not better to ask for forgiveness after taking my money than for you to ask me if I want to buy what you are selling in the first place.

This is criminal

The truth is what happened here is unlawful seizure of property. In other words: theft.

Cassava and Econet inviting stricter regulation

The world over when stuff like what happened yesterday happens, regulators go to rule books and add a few extra pages. That this happened is justification enough that we need to rethink regulation about what happens to our data held by telcos. Just before last year’s election, mobile subscribers  got unsolicited messages from ZANU PF. Should such things happen?

The EcoSure incident is worse because someone moved money out of people’s accounts without their knowledge. It wasn’t just money being moved randomly, the money was going to the same company that we have trusted to keep our money. At least three regulators should say something about this:

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) as regulator of banking and similar services should make sure this never happens again. POTRAZ as regulator of telecoms companies should make sure telcos don’t abuse our personal data for their own benefit ever again. The Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) should make sure no insurance company should ever impose itself on Zimbabweans again whether that insurance company has a relationship with a banking institution or not.


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26 thoughts on “Econet And Cassava Have Gone Too Far, Deducting Our Money Without Consent Is Criminal

  1. I Would call it a hack because they accessed my moblie bank account with out my PIN.Totally unacceptable!!!

  2. Would be interesting to see if anyone gets their money back! The power of wealth is incredible supported by the law? When ISPs cut us off as directed by government, who lost, ISPs, government or consumers? I am told it was all above board and that I needed to get and pay a lawyer to fight the case if ever I was going to win it?

    1. This one they will repay trust me

      They want this to go away as quietly as possible

      1. Tinashe, if they pay you back send me proof and I will give you $10 on top. They’ll simply bribe the person who is supposed to make them pay back with a fraction of that money.

        Econet owes a lot of people money who tried to subscribe to YoMix when it first came out and to think day not a single cent has been reimbursed. Personally they owe me $4 from 2 December 2018 so I wouldn’t hold out a candle for your dollar if I were you.

        1. Really?

          I am convinced they will pay this time. This is a serious breach of trust and criminal even, it won’t be in their interest to pretend it didn’t happen whilst complaints are lodged. The best move for them right now is to silently reimburse and apologise or maybe give some lame excuse eg technical glitch

  3. I think it’s very innovative for Econet to make sure you all have funeral cover. So many are dying without cover, it takes meetings and donations to bury someone these days. Lol… 😉

  4. I agree with everything in this article. Especially the part about advertisements pushed to our phones via sms. Telecel is also a serious culprit here. There needs to be consumer protection regulations that prevent telecoms from doing this sort of thing.

  5. Whether system or not, whatever happened was a glitch. And as media personnel it would have been more professional to engage Ecocash on the issue before publishing this article. Any company that deals with large data bases and has subscription systems is bound to face such challenges once in a while. The question is how do they respond? In this case Ecocash has reimbursed all affected individuals which is commendable.

    1. And who said I didn’t speak to EcoSure?

      It’s better for EcoSure if I don’t disclose exactly what happened. Let’s not be hypocritical in public when we know what’s going on

  6. I received a message that there was a technical challenge which is prevalent to any system and they have since refunded my money.Econet is the best,it continues to set the standard in service excellence and pioneering.

    1. Your bank buys you a nice pair of shoes from Bata, delivers them to your door and you call it a technical glitch?

  7. According to Econet, the folks that had money deducted were supposed to get free insurance cover. System errors do happen. Its how they are resolved that matters. My friend had her refund done last night.

    1. Are you being truthful to yourself here?

      If such a glitch can occur then EcoCash as platform has bigger problems. You and I know that’s not the case. It was nothing but the wrong call by leadership. They are human, if they speak truth we may even forgive them

  8. Mari hangu yakadzoka ndonhomirira the so called free funeral cover. Kwakutotora the best out of the situation.

  9. Having someone access your e-wallet and make a payment, bypassing security measures is not just a “common” glitch. It is a serious security flaw. What does current cyber security bill say about such incidents? Some people are letting their fanboy temperament get the better of them.

  10. System challenges do occur everywhere but I have observed that if it includes Econet it’s usually blown out of proportion. Apologising and refunding shows transparency and also that they are genuinely sorry.

    1. A company that has access to your funds sending your funds to their sisters company without your permission is not a big deal to you? Yes it’s a mistake but I think it’s a very big deal

  11. Lol it seems to me like you guys are only singing for your meal. You just post Nje!, how much do your charge for your ads and post on your website. Such fact less articles are for attention seeking wannabes who claim to know it all. Who did you guys interview from Ecosure before your start tearing them down on your platform? I respect Econet as a brand and their trail blazing innovations that have had an impact on how we leave as a people in our motherland. If you guys are Techno Guru why can you invent or come up with solutions that work for the people not this I know it all kind of reporting. Iam do disappoint TechZim. Let’s support our own and stop this food for work kind of business that your a ruining on your website.

    1. So who are we singing to?

      Econet messed up and that’s a fact. This ‘support our own’ mentality is why we have the problems we have as a country. Everything and everyone can and must be questioned. You must question us and we must question Econet otherwise we are are slogan chanting half wits who blindly follow someone because they gave them a t-shirt

  12. @Masoka are you Econet public relations officer? Why do you think Econet must not be criticised? There is a serious need of regulation to break this Cassava monopoly

    1. I don’t know about Cassava being a monopoly. I hope though that people like Masoka learn to know that stronger societies are built by speaking truth to each other and not by slogan chanting

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