The danger of online purchases, my Rupu experience


MpesaE-commerce is still a concept that is yet to catch on in Kenya. Before m-pesa, it was virtually impossible to sell anything to Kenyans online due to the numerous credit card fraud cases that were, and still are, rife online. There are a number of reasons why there is now some growth with the biggest being, the ability to use an offline payment mode in an online transaction or Mobile money transfer if you will.

I made my first online purchase when Uchuuzi set up shop in Kenya some 6 years ago. I had been looking for a solution for a publishing firm whose books have a global appeal and they are not always on Amazon. To test the Uchuuzi online shop, I bought an Eric Wainaina CD, paid via Mpesa and within a few hours, the CD was delivered to the office.

I was so impressed that less than a year later, I facilitated the publishing firm partnership with Uchuuzi emart to have their own shopping cart integrated onto the publisher’s website.

RupuThe Groupon concept was introduced in Kenya fairly recently with two companies Zetu and Rupu Deals taking the concept beyond discounted gift certificates to deals on actual items. WhiteAfrican has written about the two local clones companies  more extensively.

My first purchase on Rupu was in December last year following a tweet from my buddy @Buggz79 . My daughter was turning 3 and when he mentioned Building blocks and puzzles I immediately went to the Rupu site. It was a great deal at less than Ksh. 1,000 for 1 set of building blocks and 3 pieces of puzzles. I immediately signed up, put the items in my shopping cart and proceeded to check out. I choose the Mpesa option, went to my Mpesa pay bill menu and paid to the pay bill account then went back to the site to complete the transaction.

On entering the confirmation code and proceeding, the frame went offline, several attempts later after confirming my net was o.k, I called them. We had to finish the transaction via email with the Customer Service lady doing the actual checkout from her end.

It is only when I called to confirm the delivery details that I was informed;

Sorry, we don’t do free delivery for items less than 1,000

The Puzzle image that Rupu had put up for the deal
The Puzzle image that Rupu had put up for the deal

I could have sworn I never saw than anywhere. Only after a careful scan of the site did I see the fine print (very crafty)

I had to wait till yesterday to get the items from their Kilimani offices. When I finally got them, I felt cheated.

Here is my advice to them and other Groupon clones who want to succeed in the Kenyan market.

1. Provide as much detail about the item as possible, giving the actual size of an item makes  a lot of difference, had  I know the puzzle’s were that tiny, I would not have bought. Size does make  a lot of difference.

2. Do not manipulate the item’s image to suite your purpose – back to my earlier point on giving as much details as possible to make up for the lack in the image.

3.  If your policy is that you don’t do free delivery for items less than a certain amount, prompt me before I proceed to check out, chances are, I will add another item so that you deliver. That’s more money  than you’d have made. This is especially so if your offices are in some places one has to look up in a map.

4. Do not promise more than you can deliver. Having read @JuuChini’s review of his nasty experience with Zetu Deals, I doubt I will ever attempt buying anything from their site. They promise you heaven and  try to outdo Christ in making you wait for it. I have also seen a review of the Rupu deal from another customer who was also promised alot but little was happening.

5. If you are an online deal company, the least you can do is respond to tweets. I  tweeted @RupuKenya about the delay in check out due to the site’s payment section being offline, they never responded. I also did the same yesterday when I received the items, again no acknowledgement of my tweet.

6. Follow customer instructions- I remember clearly opting for the mickey mouse option for the puzzles, somehow the set also contained one with the fairy sisters ( Rappunzel, Snow white etc) I have a very strong bias against my girls being exposed to too many blonde/barbie toys. Call me paranoid but, that complex of feeling that kinky  hair and dark skin is not beautiful starts from somewhere!

I doubt I will be buying other items on these deal sites in a hurry until the user experience has been enhanced.


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  3. Nafisa Patwa Reply

    It is now nearly 21 months since I started earning online, let alone making online purchases! The online concept is not really new to Kenya but the population is just wary of a new website or business. You need to be careful who you are dealing with and make sure that there is a Support mechanism available where you can direct your queries should a transaction go sour. You can buy from my online store and I can operate this from anywhere in the world. Check it out and if you have any queries, just email and I will try to help.

  4. Henry Reply

    You’d imagine rupu would have arrived here by now to save face. Even as they launch “2.0”

    ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    2.0 my a**. Go back to 1 and get online-offline experience right.

  5. SM Reply

    In addition, there’s many instances where the image of the good provided by the vendor is FAKE! the vendor (i have noted this especially with food vendors) will have a picture of this red velvet cake that looks like it came from heaven….but the red velvet cake that gets delivered to you is a different one altogether. I have even gone as far as to do a google search for a particular cake being sold,only to find that the vendor simply lifted a picture of the cake they are selling from a food blogger online. My efforts to bring this to the attention of Rupu were futile.

    • admin Post authorReply

      Hi SM,

      Yes there is that as well. What you see is not what you get. We have a long way to go on e-commerce esp for household and food items.

  6. anti racist Reply

    “Call me paranoid but, that complex of feeling that kinky hair and dark skin is not beautiful starts from somewhere!” = racist!

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