The Strange Case Of Econet’s Disappearing Data
The strange case of Econet wireless’ disappearing data bundles has left many mobile subscribers confounded and frustrated and digging deeper into their pockets to stay connected.
Econet wireless has consistently pinned the blame on subscribers mobile settings for the rapid consumption of data which is often unaccounted for. Background data consumption has often been zeroed in as the main culprit of this problem.
Media house, NewsDay did a poll on both its Twitter account and Facebook page asking whether anyone had experienced unexplained missing data.
In just few hours, more than 300 people had responded to experiencing this strange and rapid consumption of data and getting unsatisfactory explanations from the Customer Care service.
The negatives responses were so bad such that NetOne, Econet’s rival tried to poach some disgruntled users to their own network,
Econet subscriber, Innocent Masedze said he bought a $1 WhatsApp weekly bundle that offers 90MB of WhatsApp and 45MB of Twitter data as well as another 90MB of WhatsApp data through WiFi, but says within two hours, the package had expired.
“What happened is that I bought that WhatsApp bundle with Twitter and that bundle usually does not view images or play videos. So in order to have that function as well, I bought the daily data bundle of 250 megabytes (MB) to also play videos and download images or even use YouTube.
“After, maybe, about two hours, I was sent a message saying my Twitter bundle had expired and when I went to Econet, I was told that these bundles were promotional,” he said. “They said that since these are promotional bundles, if I buy that WhatsApp weekly bundle and buy the 250MB afterwards, the first bundle is the one that will be used.”
Masedze said he was told to check his data usage and when he checked on his Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime Plus handset, he found that there was a high data usage on Twitter, but dismissed that as the weekly WhatsApp bundle limits a subscriber’s usage.
Kudzai Murahwa said she bought the $1 WhatsApp weekly bundle, but it barely lasted 3 days
She uses a Samsung Duos, which does not use a lot of background data, and she also uses WiFi during the day, the disappearance of her data left her confused.
“I juiced up my bundle on Thursday night and on Saturday morning, I was sent message saying that my bundles expired,” Murahwa said.
“But, during the day, I am at work and use WiFi. I did not download anything and was only using those bundles for messages, only to be told that on Saturday morning they had expired.
“I contacted Econet customer care service . . . and I spoke to a lady, who told me that the guys who set up my internet settings are the ones with the problem and was asked what type of handset I used.
“She said on their (Econet’s) part, they were clean and that the fault in the data usage was with the guys who fixed internet setting on my phone.”
Econet professed ignorance on the issues off the disappearing data.
“We always take very seriously any cases relating to data or other credit balance changes that customers may not be aware of,” the company said.
“Where applicable, usage due to any actions by the customer that debits their account is explained, within the limits of the customer’s right to privacy relating to specific usage.
“In the unlikely event that a change in the customer’s balance was actually due to a system challenge, we do not hesitate to inform and refund the customer.
“We are not aware, at this time, of any such instances. In general, however, such anomalies have often pointed to background data consumption occurring particularly on smart phones, which can run many background applications that the customer may not be aware of.
“To prevent this, we introduced out-of-bundle blocking, which stops background data usage from occurring.”
Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technologies chairperson Jacob Mutisi said he was aware of the issue of disappearing data.
“As long as a client cannot identify what is happening to their data bundles, it might be them who have got something that is active in the background, but it is very difficult to identify that, so it could be Econet’s fault or the client’s,” he said
“But, nine times out of 10, we do not have a structure that you go to the mobile networks and say what happened to my data bundle? If that provision was available, it would be easier to identify that.”
ICT and Cyber Security minister Supa Mandiwanzira also commented on the issue citing that he was aware of the disappearing data complaints. He said it was now time for Potraz to investigate
“We have asked Potraz to investigate,” he said.
“We have received complaints and have passed them on to Potraz, the regulator, to investigate and if there are some problems, they must take action. They recently fined NetOne for similar issues.
“We have spoken about it before, but it does not look like the issues are going away. So we want to implore the regulator to take action and protect the consumer.”
However, Potraz director-general Gift Machengete said they had not received complaints about the disappearing airtime by Econet subscribers, but encouraged anyone affected to report directly to them.
“When we then do our investigations on the operator and find there is something wrong, we write to the operator to correct the mistake and if they do not do that, we penalise them,” he said.