Econet rearranged USD bundle menus, your favourite bundle still exists, its just hidden

Leonard Sengere Avatar

The world of sales and marketing is a fascinating one. Those people take time to study human behaviour and then craft sales tricks and marketing strategies to exploit it.

I have always found the .99 trick interesting. Apparently, 9.99 induces a different kind of feeling from 10.00 hence why we see that kind of pricing decision.

The marketing trick of repackaging the same product is also neat. “Same great product, new packaging” would not be a thing if it didn’t work.

Then we have the trick that Econet used with their bundles recently. It’s similar to the one used by supermarkets where they place certain goods at certain heights on certain shelves. This arrangement has a massive impact on which products customers pick up.

Econet rearranged and tweaked their USD airtime and data menus. I’m sure they will say they streamlined the menus to enhance customer experience. Whatever they tell us and whatever the reasons were it had a predictable impact – some people could not find the cheap bundles.

Yes, the streamlining effort somehow hid the cheaper bundles. I was talking to some older ladies who have been buying more expensive bundles than they wanted to buy. They swore there was no option for the cheaper price and yet it’s still there. It’s just not in the place they would think to look.

I don’t blame them. Going through USSD menus is tedious. Once you go down a certain submenu, you have to start over again. There is no way to go back to the main menu once you go to the “Data” submenu for example. It’s by design.

Let’s save you the trouble and go through the menus and list all the options you will find. You start off by dialing *143# and you’ll get the following: For You, Data, Combos, Voice, SMS, Roaming and Account Services.

Do note that O/Peak stands for Off-Peak. This is between 11pm and 4am.

1. For you

I am not sure if this is personalised but choosing this option leads to 2 options:

  • Device Offers → I only have a Samsung A13 going for ZW$1,461,075 on mine.
  • Data Service Offers → 5GB USD Bundle, USD$9.00.

2. Data

  1. Private WiFi + O/Peak has the following options:
  • $38 = Peak 25GB + O/Peak 5GB
  • $26.50 = Peak 16.6GB + O/Peak 3.4GB
  • $20 = Peak 11.2GB + O/Peak 2.8GB
  • $13 = Peak 8GB + O/Peak 2GB
  • $9 = Peak 4GB + O/Peak 1GB

They are in that order. The cheapest two options are on the second page. You have to choose “More Bouquets” to see them.

2. WhatsApp + O/Peak has the following options:

  • $3 = WhatsApp 1 Month – Peak 400MB, O/Peak 100MB
  • $7 = WhatsApp 1 Month – Peak 1200MB, O/Peak 300MB

3. General Data + O/Peak has the following options, split into Hourly, Daily and Weekly:

  • Hourly Bouquets → $2 = Peak 2500MB + O/Peak 500MB (1 Hour)
  • Daily Bouquets → $3 = Daily data – Peak 520MB, O/Peak 130MB
  • Weekly Bouquets → $3 = Weekly data – Peak 400MB, O/Peak 100MB; $4 = Weekly data – Peak 800MB, O/Peak 224MB

4. Smart Gifting (for when you want to buy data for someone else)

  • The options are the same as the ones for Private WiFi above. Except that for some reason, the cheapest option is all the way on the third page.

3. Combos

  1. Combos +O/Peak has the following options:
  • $17 = Peak 8GB + O/Peak 2GB + 250 minutes of on-net (Econet to Econet calls) and 50 minutes of off-net (calls to non-Econet numbers). The bundle is valid for 30 days.
  • $1 = FCA USD Recharge USD
  • $1 = 40 minutes + 50SMSM (Peak – 25 minutes, 40SMS and O/Peak – 15 minutes, 10SMS
  • So this is where the $1 airtime is hidden. This is the one some people could not find, understandably. One-dollar airtime is not a combo and yet it’s nestled right here in the Combos section.

2. WhatsApp + O/Peak has the following options:

  • $3.50 = WhatsApp 500MB of which 400MB is Peak and 100MB is O/Peak, and 30 voice minutes (only Econet to Econet)

3. Data + Voice has the following options:

  • $32 = 20GB + 430 minutes (30 days)
  • $9 = 5GB + 20 minutes (30 days)
  • $7 = WhatsApp 1500MB + 10 minutes (30 days)
  • $4 = 1GB + 8 minutes (7 days)
  • $3 = WhatsApp 500MB + 5 minutes (30 days)
  • $3 = 650MB + 4 minutes (1 day)
  • $2 = 3000MB + 2 minutes (2 hours). What’s crazy is that you need at least 3.3Mbps to download the 3GB you get here in 2 hours, theoretically. There are areas where that’s possible but not everyone is getting 3.3Mbps on Econet’s network.

4. Data + SMS has the following options:

  • $1.50 = 300MB + 30 SMS (1 day)
  • $1.50 = WhatsApp 250MB + 40 SMS (7 days)
  • $1 = WhatsApp 120MB + 35 SMS (7 days)
  • $1 = 1200MB + 25 SMS (1 hour). You need at least 2.7Mbps to utilise that data.

5. Data + Voice + SMS has the following option:

  • $18 = 10GB + 300 minutes + 300 SMS (30 days)

6. Data + Ecosure has the following option:

  • $4 = WhatsApp 500MB + Ecosure cover (30 days)

4. Voice

1. Voice Daily has the following option:

  • Voice daily USD bundle $0.20. You’re just buying $0.20 airtime here.

2. Voice Weekly has the following options:

  • $0.60 = Bundle of Joy – 30 minutes of which 20 minutes Peak and 10 minutes O/Peak
  • $1.20 = Bundle of Joy – 10 minutes of voice to non-Econet numbers, 35 minutes of Peak time Econet to Econet calls and 15 minutes O/Peak

3. Voice Bi-Weekly has the following options:

  • $3.50 = Bundle of Joy – 25 minutes of voice to non-Econet numbers, 125 minutes of Peak time Econet to Econet calls and 100 minutes O/Peak
  • $1.20 = Bundle of Joy – 50 minutes of voice to non-Econet numbers, 250 minutes of Peak time Econet to Econet calls and 200 minutes O/Peak

4. Voice Tri-Weekly has the following option:

  • $9 = 70 minutes of voice to non-Econet numbers, 380 minutes of Peak time Econet to Econet calls and 250 minutes O/Peak

4. Voice Monthly has the following option:

  • $13 = 100 minutes of voice to non-Econet numbers, 600 minutes of Peak time Econet to Econet calls and 300 minutes O/Peak

5. SMS

  1. SMS Daily has the following options:
  • $0.15 = Peak 50 O/Peak 20
  • $0.35 = Peak 100 O/Peak 30

2. SMS Weekly has the following option:

  • $0.75 = Peak 320 O/Peak 25

3. SMS Bi-Weekly has the following option:

  • $1.45 = Peak 650 O/Peak 50

4. SMS Monthly has the following option:

  • $2.90 = Peak 1100 O/Peak 300

6. Roaming

Has the following options:

  • $5.3 = Voice 3 minutes Call Back Home + 2SMS
  • $10 = Voice 6 minutes Call Back Home + 5 SMS
  • $20 = 10MB

There you go

It takes time to get used to a new menu layout, especially when you’re used to choosing your bundles by muscle memory. When your favorite bundle is no longer where you expect to see it, it can be frustrating.

It’s even more frustrating when you have to navigate the menu using USSD, which forces you to start over after every submenu.

Some of the choices Econet made with the new layout do not make sense. The worst one is the $1 FCA USD Recharge which is hidden in the Combos menu where it does not belong. In fact all the simple $1 data options are not in a place that makes sense.

Do I believe they were hidden so you think they are nolonger available and go for more expensive bundles?

The fact that Econet purposefully places the most expensive option first in every submenu, with the cheapest option sometimes on the third page, is a clear indication of their sales tactics. They are using these tricks to push people to buy more expensive bundles.

So, I guess we cannot say some of the layout choices do not make sense. They make sense when the goal is to get you to purchase more expensive bundles. I don’t begrudge the sales and marketing team for doing this.

Also read:

Econet now has RCS. It’s like free unlimited texts, but that’s not even the best part!

Econet sees 58% and 19% increases in data and voice usage but posts losses, blames low tariffs


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  1. D.K.

    Was it done by a mere mortal or by machine? My fear of AI reading our thinking and playing around with the thinking for the company’s benefit seem to have become reality! Or is it still the human?

    1. Reaper

      That’s no AI. It’s Econet hiding the cheap stuff and giving you the expensive upfront. Also their USD bundles are on the expensive side( most of them). The zwl bundles are the opposite except for the data bundles.

      1. Spartan Soldier

        True their Data in ZWL are expensive.
        Its cheaper in UzsD

        1. Spartan Soldier


  2. D.K.

    Interestingly, the Malawian government has gone quite a way with its rollout of free WiFi accessible from Schools, Public libraries, airports, markets, and other identified places. All Malawians or any person in Malawi is guaranteed 1gigabyte or 1000megabytes free data daily when they access the WiFi that has no password!

    1. Anonymous

      Hospitals included!

      1. Core95

        That has data collection written all over it

  3. Tin

    Check with weekend, they offer very cheap hourly $zwl bundles ranging from $zwl 2000 for 1gig

  4. John

    This is ridiculous. I wrote about this on LinkedIn. You’re right Leonard. It’s a profit making scheme that completely ignores user experience and customer satisfaction. But then again, the age old problem in Zimbabwe of either being a monopoly or being part of an oligopoly. As is clearly the case with econet. To add, their menus are not logical. No heuristics evaluation or usability studies were conducted. Why? Because its not about user experience — it’s about profit. Repulsing!

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