Econet under fire over WhatsApp bundles

Econet Wireless Private Limited is under fire for allegedly misleading its clients through the much-touted WhatsApp daily data bundle facility that does not even last a day in normal use and a Harare woman has slapped the mobile network operator with a $50 000 lawsuit.Ms Sihle Maxine Mabuda has since successfully obtained police clearance to hold a peaceful demonstration against Econet in Harare on November 25 this year.

The woman said she purchased WhatsApp data bundles for 30 cents after learning from advertisements that she will enjoy the services for a full day.

It later turned out that the 30 cents only buys data rather than time, 20 megabytes of data which does not last for a day, as suggested in the advertisement.

When she tried to call her daughter who is in South Africa through WhatsApp voice call, Ms Mabuda realised that the bundles were not even sufficient.

Ms Mabuda, in her declaration, contends that Econet was misrepresenting the duration of its data bundles as a marketing gimmick.

“The defendant is misrepresenting the duration of its data bundles, in particular the daily WhatsApp data bundle. Defendant advertises that it is unlimited for 24 hours yet it is limited to 20 megabytes data.

“As a result of the misrepresentation by the defendant to its clients, including the plaintiff, the plaintiff was inconvenienced because she failed to talk to her daughter in South Africa through phone,” reads the plaintiff’s declaration.

After checking with the Econet offices, Ms Mabuda said she was informed that the whole issue was a marketing gimmick to lure clients.“After a protracted argument with the defendant’s customer care desk, officials through the phone, she (Ms Mabuda) was asked to go to the defendant’s Livingstone Avenue offices where she had a meeting with Econet’s manager for Chisipite branch and other officials.

“They told her that Econet Daily Bundle does not necessarily mean that it is supposed to last for 24 hours contrary to their message which is displayed on the phones and Potraz was aware of such a marketing strategy,” reads the declaration.

Ms Mabuda wants damages to the tune of $50 000 plus interest calculated at the rate of 5 percent from the date of issuance of summons to the date of judgment.

She also wants Econet to be compelled to pay costs of the suit.

Econet Wireless is yet to respond.

Officer Commanding Harare Suburban Police District, Chief Superintendent Regis Takaitei Chitekwe has since allowed Ms Mabuda to hold a demonstration against the mobile network operator.

“Your notice to hold a peaceful demonstration on the 25th of November 2016 from 1000 hours to 1530 hours has been noted.

“For area along Samora Machel Avenue before Angus Road, you may contact the Officer Commnanding Police Harare Central District on 777 635.

“However, your demonstration shall continue along Samora Machel Avenue corner Angus Road straight into Mutare Road and right to Econent Wireless headquarters in Msasa.

“You are however, expected to ensure that the demonstration proceeds peacefully along the approved route without undue interference with public order and that you are accountable for any breach of peace as a result of the demonstration,” reads part of the letter by Chief Supt Chitekwe. – Herald