I'm going to stop reading newspapers.
If you live in Kenya, and see the daily headlines you'll understand why. It seems like day after day I am assaulted with ever more dire headlines. Either the editors of these newspapers have suddenly turned into sadists intent on breaking this country's spirit, or our spirit is already broken and we are living in a very sick, sick Kenya.
Over the past weeks I have read about greedy retailers who crammed their tiny stores with goods but couldn't provide decent exits or fire prevention equipment; policemen who demanded bribes to allow highly dangerous petrol looting, arsonists-looters who decided 'if I can't have it, no one can', ministers of government who dished out food reserves and threatened the lives of millions through starvation, custodians of investors funds who used these funds as their personal piggy banks, examiners who put in doubt the academic qualifications of a generation of students, and the list goes on and on.
I'm not the only one to have noticed this slide into the abyss and analyst, commentator, and columnist over the past month have all voiced their opinion. One opinion which I find repeated among most is how greedy and selfish we have become as a society. We have become vicious plunderers of our common resources, pillaging and ravaging so completely anything we can lay our hands on, scorching the earth as we trample along that we put in doubt the possibility of a future generation to renew and rebuild. Clearly greed is a factor but what is worse is that we are blinded as to the ogre we have become. We justify and rationalise our greed, and where that is insufficient we are comforted by our ability to buy opinion and justice and emboldened by the example set forth by those who purport to lead us.
Regardless of who we are in society, beggar or millionaire, hawker or banker, student or professor we share equally in the blame. However this past week I was confronted with the most odious example of greed. The offender: the Great Safaricom; the offense: charging for Bambanet services not provided.
It seems that Safaricom, facing an energized competition, slowing growth, saddled with massive debt, and nearing its first AGM as a public company has decided to make the numbers whatever the cost. In a manner extremely disappointing for a company of its stature, Safaricom is demanding I pay 10 months subscription for a post-paid bambanet line they disconnected 10 months ago. Their argument is that I signed a contract, so whether I used the service or not I have to pay. That, as I told their representatives, is a load of bull.
Here's an analogy. Say in January you sign a one year lease with me for an apartment. If by March 5th you have not paid the March rent, and I kick you out and get another tenant, should I still demand that you pay rent between March and December? What a scam from Safaricom!
And if you still side with them, compare the very different reaction from their competition Zain.
As mentioned elsewehere in this blog I have oscillated between Zain's and Safaricom's GPRS services for some time. Since I ditched Safaricom back in 08 I got a Zain postpaid Uhurunet contract for Internet access. Early this year I had the same issue (being billed for services not provided) with them after they barred my line for two months, and then asked me to pay for those two months for service I did not use. Thinking that greed had also gotten the better of them, I verbally lashed at them. However, unlike their counterparts, and I must add much to my pleasant surprise, I received a phone call from their very courteous staff who said they had noted my complaints and decided to waive the 2 months charge. In exchange they asked that I extend my contract for the 2 months. Now that's true service.
So finally after three years of comparison, the winner of the GPRS internet service goes to Zain (formerly Celtel). Enough said.