In a recent development, the High Court in Kenya has declined to stop Safaricom, a leading telecommunications company, from expiring its loyalty points, known as Bonga points, as of January 1, 2021. The decision has been met with opposition from some quarters, with Nakuru-based surgeon Dr. Magare Gikenyi filing a petition against the move.
According to Safaricom, the decision to expire Bonga points is a business move aimed at encouraging redemption and unlocking revenue totaling KES 4.5 billion ($41 million). The company sent a notice to its subscribers stating that any unredeemed Bonga points accumulated before December 31, 2019 would expire on January 1, 2021.
However, Dr. Gikenyi argued that this decision would lead to the loss of KES 4.5 million for Safaricom subscribers. In his petition, the doctor claimed that the announcement by Safaricom caught the public unawares and came as a surprise. He added that, considering the high illiteracy levels and lack of internet access in some parts of the country, many Kenyans would suffer as a result of Safaricom’s actions.
Dr. Gikenyi further argued that it was in the interest of justice to suspend the expiry dates of Bonga points and later declare them illegal, as the decision puts profits before the welfare of Kenyan citizens who have helped the company to grow. The medic also stated that Safaricom’s decision is an abuse of its dominant position in the market and that it is unfair to force subscribers to redeem their loyalty points or risk losing them through “arbitrary and irrational actions.”
In response, Justice Mugure Thande stated that the petition had been filed at the last minute and declined to stop Safaricom from blocking the redemption of Bonga points. The matter has been scheduled for further directions on March 6.
It remains to be seen how the case will ultimately be resolved, but it is clear that the expiration of Bonga points has sparked debate and controversy among Safaricom subscribers and industry stakeholders. While the company maintains that the move is a necessary business decision, critics argue that it is unfair and an abuse of power, and are calling for a reconsideration of the expiration policy.