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ZOL customers demand the ISP “justify” the most recent price hike – Are they the bad guys?

Home fibre internet corporate POTRAZ

So ZOL increased their prices again yesterday. This you probably know if you read Techzim, are a ZOL customer or you just heard the outrage on social media.

For the past few months, ZOL has been increasing prices pretty significantly and there really hasn’t been a clear explanation as to why the prices are going up even in US$ terms as well. Following the most recent price increment a number of ZOL customers took to social media to understand what’s going on and raise some important issues;

Why is the US$ price increasing?

Customers are perplexed at the fact that US$ pricing is increasing alongside ZW$ pricing. One customer posed the following question online?

So Zol increased its prices by almost 200%. With the current black market rate of 85 to 90. It means 100GB is costing around 60USD. 3 months ago the same 100GB was priced around 25USD. What justifies the price increase in USD.

Via Twitter

To be fair to ZOL the US$ price has been the same since 2017;

PackageSpeedPriceData cap
Family Entertainment20$149Unlimited
Modern Family30$199Unlimited
Power Pack50$259Unlimited
Turbo Pack100$339Unlimited
Prices ZOL customers were paying for unlimited internet in 2017

The only package that has increased in price is the Power Pack (from US$250 to US$290). The problem here is two-fold (i) US$ was more commonly available in 2017 (correct me if my memory serves me wrong) and (ii) the exchange rates made those prices more palatable.

Pricing of capped packages is actually more favourable if we’re just comparing the prices back then to what you get now (on paper);

PackagesOld Prices-2017 (US$)Data allocation in 2017Price in 2020 (US$)Data allocation in 2020
Fibroniks Lite$2925GB$2940GB
Basic Essentials$3935GB$3950GB
Family Essentials$8975GB$89100GB
In 2017 consumers where actually getting less

If we’re being factual, in 2020 consumers are actually getting more or exactly the same data for the same price compared to what consumers were getting 3 years ago. Not only from a data allocation perspective but also when we talk about speed (excluding Wibroniks customers). In 2018 ZOL bumped up the internet speeds on these packages – which suggests that for Fibroniks customers at least, the current deal is actually better than it was 3 years ago.

Looking at the above tables, what has changed is the fact that consumers have far less disposable income and on ZOL’s part, I think a fair criticism is that the quality of service has dropped and their reputation has taken a hit.

Let’s talk about that now…

The quality of service issues

ZOL has always been the more expensive option when it comes to home internet. This was ok because the service was world class – or it was the best Zimbos had experienced. Nowadays though, not so much. Consumers are subjected to weekly maintenance updates that disrupt connectivity and even after maintenance, it seems consumers are not as happy as they were with the quality of service.

Zol yacho quality of service has been real poor of late. Hopefully at that price they will make it work properly.

Consumer complaining on Twitter

Maybe if the quality of service wasn’t poor consumers would notice that the pricing of the service when pegged against the US$ has always been the same and over the past few months was actually cheaper than ZOL intended it to be.

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

14 thoughts on “ZOL customers demand the ISP “justify” the most recent price hike – Are they the bad guys?

  1. True to form, the expectations for ZOL to perform are there, and when the Fibronix packages came out they were really good, everything worked and went as advertised. Then, like all great businesses in the place they get greedy. I suspect the issue became that ZOL over subscribed the platform and it showed when subscribers started to suffer on band width. In 2017 i was paying the $150 for the Family entertainment package, and in 2017 when you did speed tests, you got very close to your 20mbps speeds. Do the speed test now and see how it compares. Dont get anything near now, but i am still paying the same. Customer service is not what it used to be. How long do we stand out side the ZOL offices now? And we are still expected to pay the same as 2017.

    1. The frustration being a ZOL customer in 2020 is not lost on me but I do genuinely think the challenges they are going through are partly reflective of the fact that the environment they are operating in is not exactly known for being kind to businesses

  2. Wibroniks Home Unlimited was $50usd in 2017 and now it costs $119usd, what kind of a price increase is that? The service is poor and now unaffordable to consumers.

    1. I shared the price tables for the 2017 pricing, the prices were mostly the same as they are today but because we were using bond notes which were pegged at 1:1 with the USD$ it seemed significantly cheaper (and it was I guess) than it does now.

  3. We don’t have an income that is our problem otherwise I would be happy to pay. Coronovirus has stopped my business in it’s tracks

  4. Thanks for a different take on this.

    I guess another issue is the declining consumer purchasing power. We all immediately expect ZOL’s pricing to match that reality. Especially since, as a Zimbabwean company operating in a ZWL environment, overheads are in ZWL and we the majority earn primarily in stagnant ZWL. The reality though, and regrettably is, that’s not how businesses operate, in Zim or elsewhere. Cost drivers vary wildly, enterprises have real currency obligations etc.

    Then again, this could just be ZOL either 1) taking advantage of the increased demand for home internet in the wake of COVID-19/WFH dynamics (Perhaps they now have a lot of “regulars” that aren’t picking up this tab themselves, its handled by corporates for their remote staff who will pay blindly etc.)

    OR 2) They are repositioning themselves as the ISP for the well-heeled/North of Samora/USD earning crowds. Once upon a time that was the impression ZOL gave. Where your pocket couldn’t match what they offered, you were forced to get your internet from the providers that you could afford. We are back to that situation (Sons and daughters of mother PTC, its your time to shine)

    As for poor QoS – that could just be a telco struggling in a harsh, increasingly illiquid environment, and yes, another Zimbabwean business being sloppy and trying to get away with it. Lets’ dish out the blame for that in fair portions to Liquid/ZOL, POTRAZ, our crazy economics (you know who to finger), and the guy in the mirror giving a bad service provider their money again and again and again…

  5. Unfortunately this will continue to happen until customers unite and say no. 20usd in 2017 is not 20usd today. Companies have to adjust and work with what people earn now. People’s disposable incomes are not what they were in 2017 yet you find companies pricing their goods n services against the usd rate(s). Are people’s salaries aslo being pegged against the same rate(s)? Greed will destroy us. Yes as business we need to make profit but surely not the same profits we made back in 2017. Mind you back then we used to complain that zim internet prices were overpriced.

    Its hard being Zimbabwean and a nightmare being a Zol subscriber. Atleast for me

  6. The same ZOL charges USD$12 for 30G on the Top Up (winbroniks) in Livingstone Zambia with Zimbabweans staying in Victoria Falls now subscribing to that.
    They sale a mi-fi for USD$25; included in that package -free 10G valid for 7 days with roll over option & free 30G valid for 30 days with roll over option- u have to top up b4 the expiry of the period & it’s rolled over to the other month.
    I think the only companies matching that r Tel 1 & Telecel.

    Their Victoria Falls office was selling their ZOL SIM cards telling Mkhosana residents that they had network in that surburb when in fact they did not

  7. It’s about affordability in my opinion. 3-4 years ago whilst earning USD2-3k a month, one could pay the fees. In the diminished depressed earnings of 2020, including the Covid issue, the fees now are burdensome as earnings are waaayyy down. The bully attitude of most businesses today, make this a head shaking issue as Zol and other monopolistic entities, will basically tell you to shove off.

  8. Unfortunately it’s published opinions like this which empower profiteering monopolies and oligopolies to keep raising prices and squeeze as much as they can from consumers.

    Some of these comments about “we need to understand that it’s the economy blah blah blah” are completely misguided. Zol is not a tuckshop. They also don’t get foreign currency from ma change money. These are the kind of corporations which are given preference by the central government and central bank for forex allocations. They have financial managers whose job is precisely to ensure the company has enough liquidity to operate. They have a large market share and experience economies of scale. They can borrow from financial institutions outside this country given their asset base and future cash flows.

    We are the consumers who pay the cost and experience the brunt of the economic pressures. These monopolies don’t. That’s why they are monopolies. It is a completely valid response to expect these corporations to stop acting like we are in South Korea or Belgium were the population earns normal currency.

    Why in the world would someone who is not a shareholder of this company play devil’s advocate for them? Does ZOL look like a company struggling to make ends meet? As consumers we need to worry about our interests more than the interests of profiteering monopolies. Not too long ago ZOL was targeting the very rich in this country with ridiculous prices and saying things like “we have to cover costs. The current economic blah blah blah”. Until TelOne came along offering affordable prices. Suddenly Zol started offering more sane packages for everyday people.

    If there’s outrage over these ridiculous hikes let it be so. That’s the only power consumers have. To threaten their cash flows. There’s no consumer protection in this country that’s what’s lacking. We are not lacking in advocacy and sympathies for greedy people. Hopefully this will be factored into the opinions going forward.

  9. Also we need to take heed of the fact that Internet is an Import, just like Fuel and DSTV. Its paid for in USD not RTGS, so whatever we say we must understand that ZOL will pay its transit service providers in USD whilst we are paying them in RTGS,

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