The launch of Karibu Postpay tariff in 2012 was an interesting initiative by Safaricom. At the time, voice was big and the product offered it plus 2 services in a pocket friendly bundle. That’s the reason why I signed up for the service in 2013.
Safaricom's Karibu Postpay was the perfect hybrid product for customers who couldn't afford the usual Postpaid the company offered.
— Wamathai (@Wamathai) February 25, 2020
Karibu Postpay’s offering included an entry package that was priced at Ksh. 1,000 and offered 900 minutes, 100 SMS and 100MB. The full packages were as follows;
|Resources||Ksh. 1,000 bundle||Ksh. 2,500 bundle|
|Safaricom to Safaricom minutes||900||2,200|
|Safaricom to other Kenyan networks minutes||100||300|
Before this, Postpaid was out of reach for most customers. It’s not that Karibu Postpay was a fully Postpaid product but it offered a halfway house to Postpaid. Customers could also access the Postpaid customer care line (200) which was a definite plus. Customers were given a set bundle with certain resources. Once you exhausted your bundle, you could add the resources by buying prepaid bundles such as airtime. The internet and SMS bundles especially were not enough so most people tended to go out of bundle. One key advantage was that all your resources accumulated if you didn’t use them. This meant that most customers had thousands of unused minutes.
Karibu Postpay proved to be very popular with customers. By 2014, the Postpay product had about 140,000 customers. Not everyone was happy with the product. Then Safaricom CEO, the late Bob Collymore, described Karibu as a loss making venture and the company announced its intention to modify the product, in a notice in May 2014. The company also stopped accepting new customers.
@willis2070 We are not taking up new sign ups/customers on Karibu Postpay. ^NO
— Safaricom Care (@Safaricom_Care) January 7, 2015
The plan was to make unused minutes expire. All customers were given notice to the effect that they would have to use all their unused resources (Minutes, SMS and Data) before they expire on midnight 26th May 2015. The target was obviously minutes because this is what most customers had accumulated. Safaricom must have seen this as a liability because customers would be able to accumulate minutes to infinity and there would be lost revenue.
Safaricom’s plan was initially not opposed by customers. It’s possible that most of them did not see the 2014 notice. However, customers reacted when the company communicated the ramifications of the notice in January 2015. The reception was a spectacular disaster. Customers took to Social Media to lament on the unrealistic expectation of being able to exhaust thousands of minutes within a few months. There was even talk of a class action lawsuit against the company for their action.
CEO Bob Collymore, God bless his soul, listened to the cries of the customers and declared that the customers would keep their unused minutes. However, from 26th May 2015 the product was modified such that new resources from that day would expire each month. This meant that if you didn’t use your resources, which were mostly minutes, they would expire.
Karibu Postpay lived to fight another day.
In July 2015, launched a new Postpay product in the hopes that Karibu Postpay customers would move and that new customers would be on-boarded. They named it Advantage Plus. The new product came with the following resources and pricing points;
|Resources||Advantage Plus Superior Ksh. 2,999||Advantage Plus Premium Ksh. 4,999||Advantage Plus VIP Ksh. 9,999|
|Local Minutes- All Networks||1,500||3,000||9,000|
|Local SMS- All Networks||1,500||3,000||9,000|
|Data||3 GB||6 GB||18 GB|
The new product had an offering that included more minutes, SMS and most importantly, more data. By 2015, data was becoming a valuable commodity and this plan made a lot of sense. However, it was more expensive. At the launch, it was intended to receive Karibu Postpay orphans and also other customers. The company hoped that it would get a generous 700,000 new customers by the end of that year. It was not to be.
However, some Karibu Postpay customers moved. Some to the new product and some to prepaid. To the company’s credit, they kept their minutes but they couldn’t come back if they changed their minds. Those who stayed also kept their minutes and received new resources, which kept expiring every month if they remained unused.
Fast forward to 2020.
In 2020, the company started to bombard the remaining Karibu Postpay customers with messages letting them know of a way that they could use their unused minutes.
Fast forward to 2020 and the customers that remained still have most of their accumulated minutes.
They are now being bombarded with messages to convert their minutes to MBs. pic.twitter.com/HNFIf4Vpjo
— Wamathai (@Wamathai) February 25, 2020
The company’s intention was to find a way to make the customers use their minutes. The plan was to exchange the minutes for data. This was confirmed by a Safaricom representative that called me to urge to convert my minutes to data. Like I earlier noted, at Karibu Postpay’s launch data wasn’t such a big thing and the product was heavy on voice and low on data. By 2020 standards, the product was outdated. The campaign to convert minutes into data ran until end March and the plans were as follows;
- 2GB for 100 Mins valid 24hrs
- 5GB for 500 Mins valid 7days
- 500MB for 100 Mins (NO EXPIRY)
- 1GB for 200 Min (NO EXPIRY)
Being a Karibu Postpay customer, I acknowledged the company’s intention but I didn’t buy into it. I had no intention of converting my minutes. I mean data is relatively cheaper now and the conversion rate didn’t make any sense to me.
Why? Because the minutes are still a liability and they want the customers to use them.
Would I convert mine? Never in a million years. I'm good with, what is in essence, unlimited talk time.
Will it work for other people? Probably pic.twitter.com/MmpTFBmBOk
— Wamathai (@Wamathai) February 25, 2020
Some enterprising Kenyans however came up with a plan to convert their minutes. However, they were not converting the old accumulated minutes. They were converting the monthly expiring minutes and leaving the old ones untouched. I never tried it but it apparently worked.
You can Convert the monthly expiring minutes after they changed it to a non accumulating balance. I have set a reminder to convert all minutes just before the month ends.
— Reject BBI (@uwanja) February 25, 2020
In March, the company launched a new Karibu Postpay at the same introductory price point with the old one but with better resources. Basically, a product for the times we are living in.
The resources for the new Karibu Postpay packages are as follows;
|Ksh. 1,000||Ksh. 2,000||Ksh. 3,000||Ksh. 5,000||Ksh. 10,000|
|5GB Data||15GB Data||25GB Data||Unlimited Data||Unlimited Data|
|400 Minutes||1000 Minutes||1500 Minutes||2500 Minutes||Unlimited Calls|
|Unlimited SMS||Unlimited SMS||Unlimited SMS||Unlimited SMS||Unlimited SMS|
At an event that was organized by Safaricom and the Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE), and hosted at the iHub, the company encouraged those who were on the old Karibu Postpay to join the new one.
— HapaKenya 🇰🇪 (@HapaKenya) March 3, 2020
After seeing the resources of the new Karibu Postpay, I was finally convinced to move. I consulted Safaricom on Twitter and apparently I had to terminate the old Karibu Postpay, be moved to Prepaid and then sign up to new one.
Please fill in this termination https://t.co/BNnjtxyTX2 then send it via email to Advantage@safaricom.co.ke from your registered email address and attach a copy of your original identification document. Stay safe. ^WP
— Safaricom Care (@Safaricom_Care) April 3, 2020
I was informed by a friend that the remote process took time so I decided to just go to a Safaricom retail shop. I am told that this is the fastest way. At the shop, the Safaricom representative (a nice gentleman called Wallace) at their shop at Galleria Mall, gave me the termination form (PDF download) which I signed. Before the termination, he confirmed that I had paid all my bills for the old Postpay.
My old Karibu Postpay was terminated quick, fast and in a hurry and I was downgraded to Uwezo Prepaid. I kept my old pre-May 2015 minutes and the data that I had purchased. I also had my expiring minutes for the month. They later expired at the end of the month.
However, when I tried signing up for the new Karibu Postpay by dialling *544#, I was informed that I was still on Postpaid. The issue was solved later by Wallace. I thereafter signed up and the process was pretty quick. To sign up, all I did was;
- Dialled *544#
- Chose my limit (I chose Ksh. 2,000)
- Entered my email address
- Selected a PostPay bundle plan (I chose Ksh. 2,000 one)
- Accepted the terms and conditions
- I paid Ksh. 2,000 deposit and that was that.
Since I signed up for the new one when the month had already started, I received resources commensurate to the period I joined. My bill for the month of March will be lower because of this.
On the old Karibu Postpay, I had to pay a Ksh. 1,000 deposit and an extra Ksh. 5,000 roaming deposit. This will apparently be refunded by Safaricom. It was meant to be done within a day but I am still waiting, 6 weeks later.
I informed Wallace that I wanted to sign up for the new Karibu Postpay and whether they can just transfer the money to the new account. He informed that that’s not the process. It’s pretty inconvenient if you ask me. As it is now, I had to pay a deposit of Ksh. 2,000 when I signed up for the new tariff and I will have to go to the retail shop again to sign a roaming agreement and then pay Ksh. 5,000, that Safaricom will refund, again. Otherwise I won’t be able to use Safaricom’s roaming services when I travel.
Karibu Postpay’s ability to accumulate resources was killed in 2015 but here we are 5 years later, with a new product of the same name that accumulates resources. I can not help but wonder why Safaricom did not just upgrade the old Karibu Postpay product, instead of launching a whole new one. It would have been more convenient for existing customers. They would also have had an easier time marketing it based on the momentum the product had at the time.
Karibu Postpay still lives and from the looks of things, it is way better. My experience with it has been okay so far but it is still early days. We will see how this journey goes and the plan is to write about it. In any case, I won’t be able to go back to the old one. I am stuck here but I still have my pre-2015 Karibu Postpay minutes to remind me about the old one. Will i ever use them? Most likely not but I love to look at them when I am bored. They make me happy.