Telkom Kenya now instantly deducting 10% commission on Pewa… and it’s not exciting

In mid 2012, Orange Kenya introduced an emergency credit top-up service – Pewa – for its subscribers to use to make make calls, send text messages and access the internet in cases where their previous top-ups hand run out and they still need to stay in touch.

Just like Safaricom’s ‘Okoa Jahazi’ and Airtel Kenya’s ‘Kopa Credo’ and the then YuMobile’s ‘yuCredo’, the Pewa service soon gained popularity with many Orange subscribers as it came to their rescue in times of emergency when getting airtime was a challenge – either due to lack of cash or absence of an agent selling Orange airtime (as not many stock Orange airtime claiming that it doesn’t move as fast due to the number of subscribers).

But one key feature – and benefit for Orange subscribers – with Pewa was that unlike other competitors’ emergency top-up services, you received the whole amount requested for – whether Kshs 15 or 50 – with no deduction from Orange. And if you repaid the Pewa loan within 24 hours, Orange levied no commission. Meaning Orange – as your preferred mobile network – had the good manners to come to your rescue on request, and charged you no commission if you met your end of the bargain by repaying the amount within 24 hours.

For the past four years, all has been well for Orange subscribers – like myself – who rely on Pewa regularly.

That was until a few weeks when some people at Orange decided to quietly change the terms and have the 10% Pewa commission deducted automatically before the value is sent to the subscriber. I say ‘quietly’ because this information was never shared with subscribers before the change was effected.

It seems the Pewa terms and conditions were only changed on the website and the decision not disseminated widely to those with no internet access.

 I recently discovered this the hard way and that I had received airtime less Kshs 5 when I applied for a Kshs 50 Pewa. Without checking the value sent as I’d assumed nothing had changed – remember there’s been no change and it’s worked this way from since mid 2012 when the service was introduced – I then went ahead to apply for the Daily XCell bundle which costs Kshs 50 for 400MB data. The request was declined. When I checked my balance, I realised I had Kshs 45 instead of the usual Kshs 50 which I receive whenever I make such a request. On checking my phone again, there was this message:

I had to find an alternative interconnection to use that night as there’s no lower data bundle below the Kshs 50 XCell Daily package.

The following day when I repaid the Pewa loan, Orange sent this message:

My question to the Orange Kenya customer care team – @OrangeKe_Care – and the company – @OrangeKenya – still remains: thy was this decision not communicated to subscribers – even via SMS – before it was effected?

Why was such a decision not communicated to subscribers even as part of or below such a message:

I hope someone from Orange Kenya will read and be kind enough to respond to my concerns. I keep referring to them as ‘Orange Kenya’ and not ‘Telkom Kenya’ as they are yet to rebrand following the exit of France Telecom, even the URL is still Orange Kenya.