Sep 01, 2014

The Hustle of Buying Electricity Tokens

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When Kenya Power (KP) introduced pre-paid meters its consumers anticipated relief given the many problems associated with post-paid meters.

The Post-Paid system had been blamed for not returning account deposits, consumers having no control over their consumption, unpleasant disconnection, high reconnection fees, corruption during disconnection and reconnection of power and estimated bills, which at most times were hilarious for their gross miscalculations.

The introduction of Pre-Paid meters was expected to be a relief but ended up being a nightmare to electricity consumers. With it came limited places to purchase tokens, delays in topping up, long digits or codes, frequent systems failures making it impossible to purchase tokens, and varying amount for units purchased at the same amount.

Here is our experience with the Pre-Paid system.

We attempted to buy tokens through M-Pesa 60 hours ago and indeed received an M-Pesa SMS confirming that KES 500 had been sent to Kenya Power Pre-Paid account: 01450638802 on 5/6/12 at 10:52 AM as shown below:

M-Pesa confirmation SMS

Hours passed and we were yet to get the tokens, so we inquired from Safaricom who after investigating informed us that the payment had been transferred to Kenya Power and that we should inquire from the power supplier.

We tried to tweet Kenya Power but as usual they were unresponsive, forcing us to call them instead. The first customer care agent looked into the matter and informed us that the tokens were to be dispatched soon. Again, several hours passed and we were yet to get the tokens so we called them again and found a different customer care agent. As usual, we had to reintroduce the issue at hand to this new agent who then informed us that the payment wasn’t reflecting on their systems.

By Thursday morning, we were yet to get the tokens, so we got in touch with Safaricom through twitter and informed them that Kenya Power claimed that our payment wasn’t reflecting in their systems. This was their response:

Up to now, 3 days later, Kenya Power still holds on their argument that our payment isn’t reflecting on their systems, making it impossible to dispatched the tokens. Safaricom on the other hand argues that the M-Pesa SMS confirms that the funds were transfered to Kenya Power, so the issue is out of their hands. I as the consumer am literary left in the dark, with no knowledge of where my money or tokens are, and without electricity.

Update: After posting this article, Safaricom acted on the matter and the money was returned to the customer. The question however still remains, especially if this is not an isolated case. When such a thing happens and it becomes a battle of pointing fingers, what then becomes of the service that the customer is expecting and has already paid for?