EcoCash allows users to have both a Zimdollar and a foreign currency wallet using the same phone number. So if you have an EcoCash account, you already have the Foreign Currency Account (FCA).
Currently only two foreign currency accounts are available, the Rand account and the USD account. They work exactly like the Zimdollar wallet; you can receive money, make payments, send to others, cash out, etc.
To access this FCA Wallet, simply dial *151# → Option 7 ‘Wallet Services’ → Option 5 ‘Multicurrency’ → Option 1 ‘Change Currency’ → Choose the desired currency. You will need to follow the same process to switch back to local currency.
As I mentioned, you can use this FCA wallet to make payments. But how to put money in this account? There are only two options left; either you receive money from remittances or from another FCA Wallet user sending money to you.
FCA wallet money suspended
You can no longer cash out yourself. You might have the foreign currency on hand that you want to use to pay for something or send to someone else, but you can’t just cash out that money. It’s weird.
In Zimbabwe, the government and private companies that can take deposits go out of their way to get people to deposit/cash out their currencies. It stinks to heaven that EcoCash won’t let you cash out. You can just sense a government-sized obstacle here.
Tough for the FCA portfolio
EcoCash officially launched the FCA Wallet at the end of 2018, but only 17 months later EcoCash triumphantly announced “The FCA Wallet is back”. In just 17 months, the service had been launched, fallen into purgatory and resurrected.
The ups and downs over the years have ended up confusing even EcoCash customer service employees. Today, as I mentioned, the service is still operational, although some features are missing.
EcoCash customer service staff told me that I can cash in USD/Rand at any Econet store. I went to an Econet store in my hood and was told that collections could only be done at Avondale and two other branches. I thought okay, the customer service lady got it wrong.
So, I went to the Avondale Econet store to be told that they no longer accept receipts. They told me that no agency accepts collections anymore.
Naturally, I reconnected with the customer service staff via call, Twitter, Facebook, etc. On all these platforms, they assured me that I could cash out at any Econet branch. I told them that I had been told otherwise at two branches and they assumed that I had tried to do so when the service was initially suspended.
I corrected their guesses and they made a few calls and then got back to me. What do you know, they were wrong. I had made the trips for nothing. Somehow the memo reached Econet stores but skipped the customer service offices.
How it happened, I don’t know. If we can’t trust what customer service tells us, then why do they even exist. You would think that the people who answer customer questions would be the first to know about changes to products and services. Someone forgot to tell them, it happens.
No wonder the physical branch doesn’t die
Recently, we saw DStv reverse its decision to close its Joina City branch. They haven’t told us yet why they changed their minds, but if EcoCash’s customer service history is any indication, remote customer service still has a ways to go in Zimbabwe.
EcoCash customer service staff not only gave me outdated information, they hung up on me multiple times. It took all the patience running through my veins to hang on, only to get the wrong information.
One guy literally said, “Hello, thanks for calling EcoCash. How can I help you? I can’t hear you if you talk. Then hangs up, all in less than 5 seconds. I’m a PG-13 guy but I have to admit I swore after he did that. I’ve been waiting for him to pick up for almost 8 minutes so don’t judge me.
This wasn’t my first 8 minute call. I had tried several times before the “effective” guy picked up. Twice the network just went down while I was doing my query. Bored me endlessly. Why did this only happen after someone picked up? Yet another time another lady was almost as impatient as the ‘efficient’ guy and hung up.
What makes these employees impatient? Are their performance ratings based on the number of calls answered? If so, EcoCash should rethink it. I know they say calls can be recorded, but supervisors can only go through a few random recordings and can be fooled into thinking everything is fine.
They can be fooled because not all customer service employees act like the ones I mentioned above. You see, I had good conversations on this same 114 hotline on different days. So maybe some shifts were good and some shifts were bad and I got to experience both.
I hope to see improvements
Whatever the reason, I now understand why you still see queues in Zimbabwe despite most companies investing in customer service. You get a better in-person experience than on any other platform.
It’s a shame because the trend clearly shows that physical branches are closed. Thus, customers are left with a terrible option. I’m concerned that for some services that aren’t too essential, the terrible customer service experiences may completely turn people off the services themselves.
It’s not just an EcoCash problem. I’ve had similar experiences with support staff at other companies. It’s not even a Zimbabwean problem. Businesses around the world are skimping on investment in customer service and embarrassing customers.
[Update] the collection service was suspended when agent services were shut down by the RBZ. It even affected the ability of Econet stores to accept collections. Customer service staff had outdated information when they said customers could cash out at Econet stores.
So be careful, the cash in service has been inactive since and at no time has it been restored. This means that if someone who is not employed by EcoCash tells you otherwise, beware, they may be trying to scam you in some way. If the person telling you this is an Econet employee, don’t bother them, they are wrong and working with outdated information.