By Tony Zakaria, 3rd July 2010 @ 12:00, Total Comments: 3, Hits: 3930
The mobile phone fake or genuine copy is here to stay. How did we survive without this useful gadget that is fast becoming ubiquitous? Decades ago when mobile hand sets were the size of a soda bottle, very few companies could afford them. They were expensive to acquire and even more expensive to run.
Network access was as rare as a Maasai maiden dressed in a sari, doing an Indian classic dance or natyam. The Motorola Dynatac and its immediate successors were so big they did not fit in any pocket. You needed a small bag to carry them around. Then Nokia and other companies came around and introduced a series of smaller phones and since then phone users are no longer at ease.
Prices have tumbled downwards and then upwards as more features are added. Today there is a phone for every pocket. Every maid, taxi driver and plumber wants not one but two mobile handsets. Some of the latest cellular phones have features that make the PCs of the 80s and 90s dinosaurs by comparison. Phone manufacturers have minted good money in profits. Traders of phone sets and accessories have been smiling all the way to their favourite banks.
Enterprising manufacturers have come up with cell phones for babies and toddlers to dial mom in case of nappy distress. If any doubting Thomas does not believe me, let him perform a search on the internet for toddler phones. It is a strange world out there. Phone manufacturers and retailers are not the only ones reaping big bucks from consumers. Operators of mobile phone services have been dancing the conga with subscribers from Timbuktu to Tallahassee.
From a tea and more tea company in Prez Obama’s land to orange phone beverage in Tony de Blair’s homeland, phone companies are offering free cel phones, unlimited calls and free messages for a princely sum of 25 or so dollars or pounds. From pre-teens to baby boomers, people are taking up such offers from AT & T, Cingular, Singtel and Chinatel, Orange and Zantel like there is no tomorrow.
Do subscribers get value for money or are many falling prey to the hype, razzmatazz of advertising, the right to choose? Advertisers are good at selling you something you do not need by making you believe without it you will be worse off. With mobile phone services,
advertisers cannot go wrong. Demand is likely to keep rising. An Afghan father once said to me that men were willing to deny food to their families to save the 40 dollars needed to pay for a gun.
I have since heard back here in Tanzania of students are willing to go without lunch as long as they can use the money to make calls or text friends on their mobiles. The messaging bug has hit Tanzania harder than swine flu hit planet Earth. Between January and March this year, Tanzanians sent out over 460 million messages. There are only about 15 million subscribers according to local authorities. That is a lot of messages considering that many would have attracted a fifty shilling charge, netting cellular operators sales of over 6.5/- billion.
Many more messages will probably be sent over the world cup period. My express yourself messages package never starts at six o’clock unless I visit my witch doctor, something I have not done since God created the planet we live in. If I send any messages before seven, I get charged 50 shillings each. Instead of Xtreme sms I get extreme pain in my pocket instead. I tried another carrier. That one promised to charge clients a shilling per second for calls. I must confess I love messaging and absolutely loathe calling.
I stopped calling long ago, when callers were being charged 30 shillings per second for calls. However, one shilling per second for calls was too much temptation to refuse. I called my mother. That was a big mistake for two reasons. One, no mother worth her maternal qualities would agree to talk to a son for only a few minutes especially a son who calls so rarely his calls resemble a royal summons. And two, when a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I talked to mom or rather I listened like a good son should, for over eight minutes before my phone went ‘blip dip blip’ followed by a disconnection not too long after. It cannot be the money I assured myself. I checked my balance anyway. The five thousand shillings I had put
in before calling were gone. Jamani! What they had not made clear was if a subscriber calls between seven and ten p.m. full charges apply. I recharged again and called back to apologise for the phone disconnection. This time I made sure the call was for less than a minute. I still got charged 380/-.
These call packages being advertised ad infinitum on TV, billboards and radio promise unlimited free calls but you almost get no connection when you really need it. And you can still be charged the full amount even though you are already enrolled for ‘free’ calls. They cannot blame the computer on this one. Plus there are hidden conditions that would normally be read and out in the open if subscribers had signed written contracts, the stuff experts call the fine print. Most subscribers enrol into advertised packages by sending a five-digit code to their mobile operators.
To subscribe, send this message text, ‘take my pesa’ to code one five money taken kabisa. So do not cry over spilt milk, I console myself. It is cheka time not for subscribers but for traders of air time. Penny wise, pound foolish goes the English saying. As they say in Kiswahili, wajinga ndiyo waliwao – the fool and his coins are soon parted. Are subscribers being shafted for their poor knowledge of how cellular calls and messaging is charged?
Total Comments on the above stories (3)
That is the benefit, the developed nations are reaping for visiting the moon! That is the benefit the developed nations are gaining for constantly exploring the earth! That is we call the satelites and its margical games to fool people! All these features that are comming along with buying cellphone have nothing but to take away your money! Unlimited texts messages,unlimited calling minutes on week ends,waiting calls,intenets on cell phones, are part of es to accumulate huge profits than what should have been anticipated. Wajinga ndio waliwao! The one who haves will be rewarded more and those who have not, will have their treausries repossesed! that is the golden rule before you breath your last! Zacky, Iam glad that, we are not too far behind on communication and cellphone the way we used to be behind on television before the fall of communisim, do we? If television back then was a luxury items and were forbiden in our country, what would have been on internets and cellphone usage? I guess we would be behind too as much as we were on TV! All African unit nations had a chance to watch 1970, 1974, 1978,and 1982 world cups through their TV stations except Tanzania! Ha ha haaaaaa! Who ever played great part to kill communisim is a definitely a saint! thank you America! Amerigo bonasera!
customers are being taken for a ride. they just do not know it for certain. All these promotions the companies like voda, zain and tigo advertise are not without hidden conditions. For example the company can change the benefits at any time without having to consult customers. It is why they always end with, ..subecty to terms and conditions...which can change without notice.
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