I Felt Robbed By Netone

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No doubt Netone’s OneFusion and Night Owl packages have swept its customers off their feet and gained their loyalty. As one of those customers, I was however irked to find out their modus operandi where SMSs are concerned.

Last week I received a message from Netone telling me that I owe them $0.11 (11 cents).

Naturally I thought that the 11 cents debt came from borrowing emergency airtime but after a few minutes of contemplation and verification I came to realize that I hadn’t borrowed Netone’s emergency airtime.

So today I called Netone’s customer care and told them my issue. And I was surprised to learn how I came to owe them 11 cents.

The revelation

The customer care agent told me that the 11 cents I owed was as a result of sending text messages without money. Huh? What? She said that when you send a text message and it doesn’t get delivered whilst you still have airtime or SMS bundles then by the time it gets delivered and you don’t have airtime or SMS bundles then you will be charged (you will have a debt). In other words your message is charged when it gets delivered not when you send it.

So in my case, I had bought SMS bundles but among the many messages I had sent, some of them didn’t get delivered whilst I still had SMS bundles. So the messages eventually got delivered but by that time (when they were delivered) I no longer had SMS bundles or airtime. As a result, Netone debited my account with 11 cents. So If I had airtime, Netone would have subtracted it with 11 cents.

Isn’t it unfair?

I have no problem that they charge their messages on delivery. However, I felt robbed because I think they are double dipping. How so? I used an SMS bundle which I had already paid for to send the text message but they charge me again (by taking my airtime or debiting my account) if the SMS gets delivered when I have used up the SMS bundle. If it was an industry-wide practice I would have excused Netone but No this kind of billing is not industry-wide. See the screenshots of the replies from Econet and Telecel:


  1. Anonymous

    they even let you use data that you don’t have and then you check balance its -$0.05

  2. Mkoma Joe

    I’d rather be charged when the message is delivered and run the risk of owing for the delivered messages than be charged for sent messages which might never deliver.

    I support Netone here!

  3. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    I think it makes sense to be charged on delivery than to be charged even if the recipient never gets the SMS. You weren’t robbed in any way. It actually encourages the service provider to maintain a good quality of service. If they don’t deliver the service they don’t get the payment, in Netones case.

    You are actually being robbed by the networks that deduct regardless of delivery. If you send an SMS to a none existant number, Econet and Telecel will take your money and smile. They actually have no motivation to deliver your SMS. For all you know, they aren’t even getting there, as you have no indication of this.

    By the way, something being an industry-wide practice in NEVER an excuse. Practice must always be justified or explainable by the service provider. “Industry practice” is just a way of saying I’m doing it because others used to do it, but I don’t know why.

  4. TOTEM NETWORK (@TotemsNetwork)

    Thats why we have Prepaid, Contract and Postpaid,while on prepaid i should not be treated as a pospaidt customer seeing extra charges for something i have already paid for.

  5. Mcnell M

    But kana mari yapera, yapera ka, why do have to credit on my account? It’s very okay to charge upon delivery of an sms, but why crediting my account?