When ZOL introduced fibre connectivity in homes and businesses in 2014 many viewed this as a revolutionary step towards Zimbabwe coming in line with global village technologies. A few months down the road, Telone launched an offensive ADSL marketing blitz of which the plans were much cheaper than ZOL packages. This saw ZOL subscription figures dwindle as customers switched to cheaper Telone. In 2016 ZOL lowered their prices in a bid to lure more customers but their business conditions have come under the spotlight as they are far inferior to Telone.

There are a couple of issues that make ZOL customers fume and switch to other service providers. But the thing is; the competition’s product is not as reliable as ZOL which leaves consumers in a catch 22 situation. Should I put up with ZOL and their ridiculous terms and conditions or should I go to a less reliable but more flexible internet provider?

$50 downgrade fee, No upgrade fee

ZOL charges customers who wish to downgrade their package a $50 ‘penalty’ fee for the downgrade to be processed. When we questioned ZOL Customer Support about it they responded saying, “this charge is for technical configuration costs which are incurred when one downgrades, we do apologize for this…” The funny thing is, in reality the technical work they refer to is just a mouse click. $50 mouse click…what a joke!

Despite charging a downgrade fee, ZOL did not charge one of my colleagues an ‘upgrade fee’ when he upgraded from their $29 to $44 plan. So if there is technical work which needs to be done on downgrades, shouldn’t the same work be done on upgrades? What then happens when your finances are not stable and you need to switch between plans regularly depending on your income that month; as this is the reality for most Zimbos and SMEs? ZOL must not charge for down/upgrades just like DStv because either way you are a paying customer and no paying customer must not be penalised for changing plans/packages, simple!

Rigid calendar billing

Flexible operators like Telone give customers a 30 day window to consume their data. Thus if you purchase a 15GB package, you will have 30 days to fully utilise your data plan. On the other hand ZOL only has fixed calendar month plans therefore customers must pay up on the 1st of each month otherwise they don’t get any service. Say you pay mid-month and fail to use up all your data plan, with ZOL whatever you don’t utilise simply goes down the drain. In this day and age of hard times; no-one enjoys losing money! Why can’t ZOL roll-over your unused data into the next month? Even before we get to that, why cant they have flexible 30 day billing so that whenever the customer pays they will enjoy that plan for the next 30 days not the rigid calendar month plans they currently offer.

Infinite $5 monthly insurance fees

ZOL charges all fibroniks customers a $5 insurance fee for modems which they lease to customers. A quick Google search of the modem led to Alibaba which retails the modems for $67/piece and if we include shipment and duties; an estimate landed price of about $150/piece. But given that ZOL buys these directly from the manufacturer Huawei, the costs are bound to be much less. Now at $5 per month, you will have bought the modem in two and a half years and the rest is pretty much profit. Why can’t ZOL let clients simply buy their own modems; be it from them or directly from Huawei and they just focus on providing the service and not try make small monies charging these $5 insurance fees. ZOL is not an insurance company after all! They should let customers insurer their own devices should they wish.

Can’t buy/use own modem

Following up on the previous point; last year I moved into a new home which was already wired up to ZOL and the previous occupant had left a modem in the house. I visited ZOL offices at Eastgate, applied for an account and asked them to use the same modem that was at my house and informed them I did not plan on paying them any monthly insurance fee as the modem had been completely paid off (under a previous ZOL operating model I assume). I was shocked when ZOL refused to connect the modem as they claimed that this model was not stable enough and would disrupt their network when the previous tenant had informed me he used ZOL fibroniks with the very same modem. ZOL technicians never tested the device but apparently their employees by simply looking at it knew the history and instability of the device, shocking!