The launch of the Karibu Postpay tariff in 2012 was an interesting Safaricom initiative. Back then, the voice was great and the product offered it along with 2 services in a user-friendly pocket pack. This is the reason I signed up for the service in 2013.

Karibu Postpay’s offer included an entry package priced at Ksh. 1000 and offered 900 minutes, 100 SMS and 100 MB. The complete packages were as follows;

Resources Ksh. Pack of 1000 Ksh. 2,500 packages
Minutes from Safaricom to Safaricom 900 2,200
Safaricom away from Kenyan networks 100 300
SMS 100 250
Data (MB) 100 250
Bonga Points 100 250

Before that, Postpaid was out of reach for most customers. It’s not that Karibu Postpay was a fully postpaid product, but it offered a home halfway through postpaid. Customers could also access the Postpaid customer service line (200) which was a definite plus. Customers received a set with certain resources. Once you’ve exhausted your plan, you can add resources by purchasing prepaid plans such as airtime. The Internet and SMS plans in particular weren’t enough, so most people tended to go out of the plan. A key benefit was that all of your resources accumulated if you didn’t use them. This meant that most customers had thousands of unused minutes.

Karibu Postpay has proven to be very popular with customers. In 2014, the Postpay product had around 140,000 customers. Not everyone was happy with the product. Safaricom CEO the late Bob Collymore described Karibu as a loss-making business and the company announced plans to change the product, in a notice in May 2014. The company also stopped accepting new customers.

The plan was to expire unused minutes. All customers have been advised that they should use all their unused resources (Minutes, SMS and Data) before their expiration on May 26, 2015 at midnight. The goal was obviously minutes because that’s what most customers had accumulated. Safaricom must have viewed this as a handicap because customers could accumulate endless minutes and there would be a loss of revenue.

Safaricom’s plan initially did not meet customer opposition. Most may not have seen the 2014 review. However, customers reacted when the company communicated the ramifications of the review in January 2015. The reception was a disaster spectacular. Customers have taken to social media to lament the unrealistic expectation of being able to use up thousands of minutes in a matter of months. There was even talk of a class action lawsuit against the company for their action.

CEO Bob Collymore, God bless his soul, listened to customers’ cries and said customers will keep their unused minutes. However, as of May 26, 2015, the product has been changed so that new resources for that day expire each month. This meant that if you didn’t use your resources, which were mostly minutes, they would expire.

Karibu Postpay lived to fight another day.

In July 2015, launched a new Postpay product in the hope that Karibu Postpay customers will move and new customers will be on board. They named it Advantage Plus. The new product came with the following resources and prices;

Resources Higher Advantage Ksh. 2,999 Advantage Plus Premium Ksh. 4,999 Advantage Plus VIP Ksh. 9,999
Local minutes – All networks 1,500 3000 9,000
Local SMS – All networks 1,500 3000 9,000
Data 3 GB 6 GB 18 GB

The new product had an offering that included more minutes, SMS and, most importantly, more data. In 2015, data was becoming a precious commodity and this plan made a lot of sense. However, it was more expensive. During the launch, it was intended to receive orphans of Karibu Postpay as well as other customers. The company hoped to have 700,000 new generous customers by the end of the year. It was not to be.

However, some Karibu Postpay customers have moved. Some for the new product and others for the prepaid. It is to the company’s credit that they kept their minutes but they could not come back if they changed their mind. Those who stayed also kept their minutes and were given new resources, which expire each month if left unused.

Fast forward to 2020.

In 2020, the company began bombarding remaining Karibu Postpay customers with messages telling them how they could use their unused minutes.

The intention of the company was to find a way to get customers to use their minutes. The plan was to trade minutes for data. This was confirmed by a representative from Safaricom who called me to urge me to convert my minutes into data. As I noted earlier, when Karibu Postpay launched, the data was not that important and the product was voice heavy and data low. By 2020 standards, the product was obsolete. The campaign to convert minutes to data ran until the end of March and the plans were as follows;

  • 2 GB for 100 minutes valid for 24 hours
  • 5 GB for 500 minutes valid for 7 days
  • 500MB for 100 minutes (NO TIMEOUT)
  • 1 GB for 200 min (NO EXPIRY)

As a Karibu Postpay customer, I recognized the company’s intention but did not buy into it. I had no intention of converting my minutes. I mean the data is relatively cheaper now and the conversion rate didn’t make sense to me.

Some enterprising Kenyans have come up with a plan to convert their minutes, however. However, they did not convert the old accumulated minutes. They converted the expiring minutes monthly and left the old ones intact. I never tried it but it apparently worked.

In March, the company launched a new Karibu Postpay at the same introductory price as the old one but with better resources. Basically a product for the times we live in.

The resources for the new Karibu Postpay packages are as follows;

Ksh. 1000 Ksh. 2,000 Ksh. 3000 Ksh. 5,000 Ksh. 10,000
5 GB of data 15 GB of data 25 GB of data Unlimited data Unlimited data
400 minutes 1000 minutes 1500 minutes 2500 minutes Unlimited calls
Unlimited SMS Unlimited SMS Unlimited SMS Unlimited SMS Unlimited SMS

During an event organized by Safaricom and the Kenya Bloggers Association (BAKE), and hosted at the iHub, the company encouraged those who were on the old Karibu Postpay to join the new one.

After seeing the resources of the new Karibu Postpay, I was finally convinced to move. I checked out Safaricom on Twitter and apparently had to terminate the old Karibu Postpay, switch to prepaid, then sign up for the new one.

A friend informed me that the remote process was taking a long time, so I decided to go to a Safaricom store. I am told this is the fastest way. At the store, the Safaricom representative (a nice gentleman called Wallace) in their Galleria Mall store, gave me the termination form (PDF download) that I signed. Before the termination, he confirmed that I had paid all my bills for the old Postpay.

My old Karibu Postpay was terminated quickly, quickly and hastily and I was downgraded to Uwezo Prepaid. I kept my old minutes from before May 2015 and the data I bought. I also had my minutes expiring for the month. They expired later at the end of the month.

However, when I tried to register for the new Karibu Postpay by dialing * 544 #, I was informed that I was still on Postpaid. The problem was later resolved by Wallace. I then signed up and the process was pretty quick. To register, all I did was;

  • Dialed * 544 #
  • I chose my limit (I chose Ksh. 2000)
  • I entered my email address
  • I selected a PostPay plan (I chose Ksh. 2000 un)
  • Accepted terms and conditions
  • I paid Ksh. Deposit 2,000 and that’s it.

As I signed up for the new one after the month had already started, I received resources commensurate with the period I joined. My bill for the month of March will therefore be lower because of this.

On the old Karibu Postpay I had to pay a Ksh. 1000 deposit and an additional Ksh. 5,000 roaming deposit. This will apparently be reimbursed by Safaricom. It was supposed to be done in a day but I’m still waiting, 6 weeks later.

I informed Wallace that I wanted to sign up for the new Karibu Postpay and if they could just transfer the money to the new account. He informed that this is not the process. It’s quite embarrassing if you ask me. As is the case now, I had to pay a deposit of Ksh. 2,000 when I bought the new rate and I will have to go to the retail store again to sign a roaming agreement and then pay Ksh. 5,000, which Safaricom will reimburse, once again. Otherwise, I will not be able to use Safaricom’s roaming services when I travel.

Karibu Postpay’s ability to accumulate resources was killed in 2015 but here we are 5 years later with a new product of the same name that is accumulating resources. I can’t help but wonder why Safaricom didn’t just upgrade the old Karibu Postpay product, instead of launching a brand new one. It would have been more convenient for existing customers. They would also have had an easier time bringing it to market depending on the momentum of the product at the time.

Karibu Postpay is still alive and at first glance it is much better. My experience with her has been good so far, but it’s still early days. We will see how this trip unfolds and the plan is to write about it. Either way, I won’t be able to go back to the old one. I’m stuck here, but I still have my pre-2015 Karibu Postpay minutes to remind me of the old one. Will I ever use them? Probably not, but I like to watch them when I’m bored. They make me happy.

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