THOUSANDS of Econet customers have been stranded in recent days as the popular EcoCash mobile money transfer platform has been misfiring.
Subscribers have been struggling to make payments via EcoCash since Friday last week.
The problem intensified on Monday where there was an almost total blackout with intermittent transaction challenges continuing until the time of going to Press yesterday.
Disgruntled customers have since Monday been thronging the main Econet offices in Bulawayo along Leopold Takawira Avenue to vent their frustrations.
A majority alleged the system sent them messages that they had failed to complete transactions but later deducted money for the transactions multiple times.
Others said they were completely shut out and could not access money in their EcoCash wallets.
Subscribers said they experienced major challenges as most transactions were now done via the mobile money service.
“I kept on trying to complete a transaction at Greens Supermarket and network was bad. I was buying groceries for $16 but I realised today that $64 had been withdrawn from my wallet. All the times when the system reported that the transaction had failed, it was actually deducting my money,’ said Mr Nkosilodumo Mzaca, a shopper.
Business people were also affected as most people are using plastic money due to the scarcity of cash.
“This is bad because people now generally buy using EcoCash or swipe. This puts us out of business because a huge number of our customers make transactions via EcoCash. We hope that Econet rectifies the situation rapidly because we are running losses,” said Mr Tapiwa Rujeko, a manager at a local fast food outlet.
EcoCash clients who spoke to The Chronicle called for the mobile money services provider to consider innovating and finding ways of reversing transactions without them having to go through cumbersome bureaucratic channels.
“We have been queuing here since yesterday trying to get reversals for the money that has been deducted and the process is very slow,” said a man who declined not to be named.
Mr Knowledge Dube said he had been waiting in a queue to reverse transactions for more than three hours.
“It is a tedious process. I took time off work. I have been waiting since morning and we have since been given some forms to fill in and submit so that we can get some statements to take to the shops that were allegedly credited with our monies,” he said.
A customer service employee at the Bulawayo branch confirmed that there were network disruptions which resulted in the long queues as a lot of people had been affected.
Efforts to speak to Econet Bulawayo Main Branch Manager Mr Mpumelelo Ncube were futile as he was said to be “overwhelmed with work.”
In a statement in response to inquiries from The Chronicle, Econet Group Public Relations Officer, Mr Fungai Mandiveyi, said: “EcoCash advises that following scheduled system maintenance work, some customers have been experiencing intermittent transaction challenges.
“Our technical teams are working to resolve the challenges as soon as possible. EcoCash sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused”.