Quitting Zuku, the billing company that provides internet, sometimes
I have been waiting for Zuku Amazing to call me over the last couple of days as they are wont to so that I can give them a piece of my mind before I dump their services.
Calling them is out of the question if you know better than to want to listen to marketing music while your phone gets hot from being placed on hold as your credit gets sucked away into a rabbit hole.
But I know, or at least I have known that one thing Zuku is exceptionally prompt about is reaching out to their customers whenever their accounts fall due, so I waited, impatiently of course.
To my utter shock, they did not, instead, they have resorted to spamming my phone with messages, “Renew TODAY and get FREE SPEED UPGRADE …and enjoy unlimited internet with Zuku fiber,” the text reads.
Unlimited internet? I ask myself. Since mid-December Zuku has given me interrupted services and such long downtimes, I have no idea what they understand as unlimited internet.
No wonder they have not called and yet, and like clockwork on January 8 they were faster than their internet speed reminding me that my account was due.
Someone at Zuku Amazing imagined that after I paid for a month’s worth of internet and got half, I would be willing to pay for the next month without assurance the downtime won’t persist.
Well, I got my answer even before I finished contemplating the epithet, another message about their experiencing technical faults that would affect services. They apologized for the inconvenience as they worked to restore it. How did they imagine I would just pay for non-existent internet?
A quick survey on social media platforms shows the company trending for all the wrong reasons. The Internet Service Provider has left its customers complaining over poor services, and non-responsiveness to service requests even upon receipt of payments.
Sample this: “If you want peace of mind. Never get Zuku internet because @ZukuAmazing is not amazing at all. Get Zuku at your own peril,” said Dan Abuogi @abuogson
“@ZukuOfficial for payment you guys called 100 times and once payment is done no bothering about services… 3 days there is no internet and when I call customer care no response just wasted airtime as wasted paying Zuku,” complained @patelpm
It is hard to imagine that Zuku controlled the home internet market in Kenya just five years ago when they held 39 percent market share over competitor Safaricom’s 27.6 percent.
Slowly Safaricom engaged in an expansion drive of its market share overtaking Zuku in 2019 when the largest telco hit 34 percent market share against Zuku’s 33.3 percent.
In 2018, another rival Jamii Telcom had one-third of Zuku’s subscribers but by last year, they were almost evenly matched.
Jamii Telcom now controls 22.1 percent market share while Zuku has hurtled to 25.5 percent. Safaricom has risen to 35.6 percent.
One only wonders what will happen once Elon Musk’s satellite internet firm, Starlink, launches its service in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Nairobi cities in the second quarter of this year.
Zuku, which is owned by Wananchi Group, was founded by former ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, Richard Bell, and one of Africa’s most successful women Njerio Rionge who now goes by the moniker Prophet-called to the nation-order of the oath of the covenant of Melchizedech on LinkedIn, among others.
The company has been embroiled in many ownership wrangles following rounds of fundraising through debt and equity that recently saw three foreign firms, Triple HoldCo Limited (THL), Liberty Global Europe 2 Limited (Liberty) and Altice Africa S.A.R.L (Altice) turn their loans into shares, further complicating the ownership structure that includes East Africa Capital Partners Management, Vollin, Wananchi Nominees Limited, ISP Kenya Limited, LGI Ventures, and East Coast Telecoms Limited own ATMT Funds I, II and III.
As the internet becomes a basic need for every Kenyan home with companies adopting flexible operations that allow employees to work from home, a new educational curriculum that constantly requires downloading and printing, and unprecedented growth in online commerce, Zuku is slowly shrinking away one user after another into an origins story rather than challenge for the market it once ruled without challenge for almost two decades.