Sunday mornings are intended to be lazy. Well, mine are. It’s the only time I have the house to myself, since my house-help is off and my baby goes
to visit church with her grand-dad. So my Sunday mornings are dedicated to sleep, Crime TV, and the occasional pancake. Which is exactly how I planned to spend this Sunday. Unfortunately, technology had other ideas.
See, there’s this
new product that connects M-PESA to your bank account. For me, it’s a lifesaver, because my typical monthly cycle involves taking money out of the bank and putting it into M-PESA. Because my work hours and my bank hours don’t correspond, it takes me three days to pay all of my bills, which is really annoying. So helping me skip a few steps is pure genius!
I can only get to the bank on Saturdays, so I was really irritated when they told me they’d run out of SIM-banking forms, and that I had to wait a week to fill them out. It took two more weeks before the service was activated, even though they had promised to have it done within 24 hours. Still, I figured it was worth the wait, and called Customer Care to confirm all the charges on the service. It’s 25/= for every text they send you.
Come Sunday morning, I was peacefully napping when the power went off. I was about to start cursing @KenyaPower when I noticed the neighbour’s radio was still blaring. So I dragged myself out of bed to check the Prepaid Meter. Number of Units: Zero. Aw crud.
Keeping in mind that it was 7.00 a.m. on Sunday, all I wanted to do was go back to bed. But there was breakfast to be made, showers to be had, and TV to be watched. So I dove into Account ya Godoro and found 2,000/= that had been set aside for hair. Oh well. I’d replace it later. The plan was to deposit it in M-PESA and top up my electricity. Unfortunately, the neighbourhood M-PESAs didn’t quite get that memo. They were all closed.
No problem. Time for Plan B: use my SIM-ple Banking thing. I’d planned to do it at some point that weekend, since I hadn’t wanted to carry money home the previous night. I took out the little leaflet that the bank teller had given me, and followed the instructions. Dial *625#. Select service. Select Bank Account. Error. Huh? I tried again. Dial *625#. Select Service. Select Bank Account. Enter Amount. Error. What the ….
I repeated the process four more times before I realized it was timing out. Apparently, my speed-typing Ideos skills weren’t good enough. So I typed faster. This time, I got to the amount and PIN number before it timed out. I decided to call Customer Care. The nice man told me that the service wasn’t working, and that I should find an ATM. On Sunday. At home. In my pyjamas. Sigh.
As it turns out, I have an ATM right next door. But it’s a Visa ATM, and it would cost me 250/= just to get the money. Still, desperate times and all that. I threw on a pair of slippers and grumbled all the way to the ATM. Then I started hunting for an M-PESA. There are five of them in the vicinity, but at 7.00 a.m. on a Sunday, all decent people are in church … or asleep. After taking five laps around the estate, the M-PESA Agents finally started peeking out of their curtains. Thank God. But there was still one problem. It was still ridiculously early on a Sunday morning. Translation? No float.
Float is a very interesting word. Few people know exactly what it means, except that when there’s no float, you can’t do your M-PESA transactions. At first I wondered why an M-PESA Agent would stop me from depositing my money. I mean, it makes sense to say you’ve run out of money and I can’t withdraw. But why would you refuse to take money that I’m handing to you in cash? And then, how can he accept withdrawals but no deposits? Is it that he has so much cash that he has to get rid of it or risk being robbed?
Well, apparently, it’s not about the cash. See, for the M-PESA Agent to accept your cash, he has to have an equivalent electronic amount. I give him the paper money, he sends me the e-money on my phone. So when he doesn’t have enough M-cash to send to me, then he has no float, so he can’t help me. He can, however, suggest that I come back later. After a few people have done withdrawals, his e-vault is reloaded and he can now
take deposit my cash.
It took another hour for the M-PESA at the chemist to find the float that I needed for a deposit. By that time, my trusty Ideos had run out of charge. So when I manother trip to the M-PESA and got sent back for my ID, I was foaming at the mouth. Okay. I grabbed the ID, went back to the M-PESA Agent and found a queue. The five people in front of me were all making deposits. Large deposits. I could just see the float melting away. Whhhhyyyyy!
I finally got to the front, handed in my ID, gave out my details and reached for my phone … which was on the charger … at home. In the end, it took me five hours and a lot of cursing to get my electricity meter reloaded. And by then, I was too wide awake to enjoy my Sunday morning lie-in. Plus, church was over and the house was full again. Sigh. So the next time someone tells me technology makes life easier, I’ll have a few suggestions on where they can put that idea.