There’s hell, then there’s the ninth circle of hell. Some might say that these words are too harsh to describe Safaricom Fiber to the Home service but what do you do when the love if your life becomes your constant source of pain?
For the longest time, Safaricom Home was my pride. While everyone was complaining about Zuku’s reliability issues and JTL’s terrible customer service, early Safaricom customers were living in paradise – superb customer care, constant internet speeds and minimal well-communicated downtimes.
Emphasis on early customers, I consider myself among the lucky few who got to experience Safaricom Home in its hay days. You know, back in 2015 when you could actually stream on more than one device simultaneously, at the same time downloading your pirated Bluray Avengers: End Game.
Safaricom Home was my second experience with an internet connection, my first was through a shady reseller whose offering could not reach 1Mbps on a good day. So when Safaricom came knocking, to offer up to 10Mbps for what was considered a small amount at that time, it was a deal – a really good deal at that.
Hapa ndipo Safaricom fibre imenifikisha pic.twitter.com/4iDtxnRdm3
— Wamathai (@Wamathai) September 18, 2019
Fast forward to 2017, after Safaricom users had made every other Nairobian feel the pinch of missing out on the service, the company decided to expand in an effort to reach more customers.
This wasn’t a bad plan, its business anyway and we didn’t really expect Safaricom to keep their then heavenly home internet service only to a few people. But this business move is what cost everyone a happy ending as what started out great soon turned into a sloppy performance.
By December 2017, complaints had started streaming in on how terrible Safaricom Home is, with the complaints centred along unreliable service and even worse, poor bandwidth management.
I clearly need to find another internet service provider. @SafaricomPLC Home fiber is a complete mess.
— 𝙽𝚒𝚡𝚘𝚗 𝙺𝚊𝚗𝚊𝚕𝚒 (@NicKanali) October 1, 2019
“It’s Not Us, It’s Your Devices”
Interestingly enough, I got to experience the poor bandwidth management issues first hand. Any sort of download, be it apps updating or a file downloading, would result in crippled internet for any other internet access service, be it social media, streaming or anything, even on the device that has the active download.
As if that was not frustrating enough, a Safaricom Home engineer (whose identity I choose to withhold) once told me that the issue is not with the service but rather with my devices (such as the Play Station and Windows updates) that would hog all the available bandwidth thus resulting in the clog.
Lakini safcom, what's this bait and switch stunt you're pulling with home fiber? Where the hell did I put that spare non huawei router?
— IT HAS BITE ITSELF EACH OTHER 😬 (@Buggz79) September 30, 2019
This explanation, to me, was BS since the problem was “a new problem” and was not there before. The story later changed and the same engineer then told me that Safaricom made a few changes on their side with the devices they use to seed the internet to users and that’s what has been acting up.
I cannot solidly confirm these reports, however, it would make total sense that this mess was brought about by a change on Safaricom’s part, because, who else?
But that’s not all. I recently got another Safaricom Home connection in Kilimani and that’s where the devil literally walked in. At first, everything was fine until it wasn’t.
It all started with a few hours of downtime with the dreaded red light of death (loss of signal), which became a lot of hours in the red and the hours turned to days, without internet.
Safaricom Wi-Fi at home is slow ugh
— 𝚔𝚒𝚛𝚞𝚝𝚒 (@kiruti) September 30, 2019
At this point, I had had enough and decided to write Safaricom a letter to air my frustrations:
103 days ago (over 3 months in case hakuna mtu wa mazematic) I had the brilliant idea of getting a Safaricom Home Fibre connection under the account number 11115828.
Having been a loyal Safaricom customer and a Safaricom Home user for some few years now, I had no doubts that the service would be sufficient. Shock on me!
For the past 103 days, I’ve reported over 5 loss of service issues which has resulted in a lack of internet connection for over 10 days cumulatively.
That’s 10 days of zero work done.
10 days of wondering what to do with my life.
10 days of being forced to be social outside Twitter.
What’s even more painful is that it’s 10 days of Safaricom taking my money without providing a service or compensation.
On top of the constant loss of internet, your technicians take longer than politicians delivering their campaign promises to resolve the issues, despite having the privilege of knowing who to call to report the issues (now imagine what normal customers go through).
As I send this tweet, I want you to know that your internet is not working, again (after getting it fixed less than 24 hours ago) and like your missing internet, you now have a missing customer. It was nice while it lasted. It’s not me, it’s all you!
This letter got me the attention I needed, no lies. Safaricom’s own Chief Customer Officer responded and said she’d do something about it.
To my surprise, Safaricom was kind enough to compensate me for my loss with a free upgrade to the 40Mbps diamond package, a compensation that I was not seeking but rather all I wanted was a functioning connection.
To add salt to the injury, the telco’s agents diagnosed that my internet issues are as a result of numerous users on my account.
Fair enough, but my neighbours have a maximum of four users at any given time and they also suffer through the same problems I did.
I am sad to report that the 40Mbps package had the same-same issues of intermittent loss if internet, again proving that the problem is not the bandwidth but whatever sorcery that’s happening behind the scenes.
Safaricom home fibre is starting to be just as bad as Zuku. Smh
— Wacuks Baby 🍃 (@wacuka_) October 1, 2019
One foot out the door
Despite the promises to make changes, to do better and to improve on the service, my relationship with Safaricom Home has become toxic. Yes, I am still a customer but a customer with one foot out the door.
Dear Safaricom, I used to love you, now I am not so sure. This relationship has drained me, I am left with nothing but a router that could start blinking red at random.
You are still so attractive, your customer care remains unmatched in the industry (and this I appreciate) but how long do you think I can last in this toxic relationship?
But then maybe, there’s hope:
It's taken a year but my home internet is finally behaving. Catalina has been downloading for the last 2 hours… In that time, I've been online gaming, watched a couple of videos on YouTube, updated a few apps and continued tweeting… Without issues on any of the (4) devices.
— 𝖊 𝖈 𝖍 𝖊 𝖓 𝖟 𝖊 with AI (@echenze) October 7, 2019
Editorial note: This is a three-part series. This is the third and final episode.