A loyal Airtel Kenya’s customer’s pain with billing on phone and data

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“I am a long standing Airtel Kenya subscriber on phone and with a data modem for my laptop.

I believe there are deliberate flaws in their product. As many of these flaws are so obvious and so simple for Airtel to deal with, I can only assume they have been allowed to exist  to gain from unsuspecting users not for any other reason.

1.       Airtel only allows airtime check balances by USSD ( not SMS), meaning on Prepaid one cannot save a record of their balances as record of any issues or for tracking spend with Airtel. I have queried balances in the past but if their Customer Care user says I used it up or I automatically renewed something.I have no proof otherwise even though I know it to be untrue. 

2.       USSD works intermittently. I have tried to use the service and not got back any replies on several occasions, and in one case I tried several times, only to find their customer care telling me I had autorenewed a bundle! All I had done was to try to check balance more than once. Again there is no way for a subscriber to prove otherwise which I find strange.

3.       Airtel data bundles do not consistently advise the user their bundle is 75% used. I have no way to prove this but know from experience in some cases my package has expired and I have gone straight on to PAYG option without realizing and paid heavily for it.

4.       One cannot subscribe for a 20shs daily bundle with Airtel until your older bundle has finished. While this is in itself is not a bad thing, it seems

a.       A bundle is by default set to ‘autorenewal’ unless one switches it off. A user is not made aware of this. And to find the ‘unsubscribe’ from autorenewal, one must go to a conveniently obscure place on the USSD menu under  Item 4 ‘Buy Internet Bundles’ which makes no sense.

b.      If one unsubscribes from autorenewal, the assumption is the internet access when the bundle is finished will ‘stop’ i.e. until a new data bundle is bought. To me this is not the case and Airtel automatically switches over from the expired bundle to deducting credit from airtime on PAYG terms! This as you well know will mean a much higher than a normal bundle rate. I have experienced this where I was trying to time my bundle to finish so I could go on the daily 20 shs for 100MB rate, and instead ended up eating up 250 shs of my airtime on  data PAYG without realizing. Surely a bundle must finish and the service stop/ a user realize and be advised of it before any other deductions automatic or otherwise can take place.

I have tried to be very careful with my data usage especially but still fall into the trap of paying heavily on PAYG and on autorenewals I was not aware I had to unsubscribe from.

I would appreciate if Cofek could trial their service for a bit and see if I am telling the truth or doing something very wrong each time.”

(Concerned customer)

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