There’s a famous Greek story about an individual named Icarus. Icarus was the son of a master craftsman called Daedalus. There was a situation in which Daedalus created wings from feathers and wax to enable he and his son escape from danger. He then warned his son Icarus not to fly too close to the sun because it would melt the wings. Icarus ignored the warnings and flew close to the sun. In the end, his wings melted and he fell from the sky and landed into the sea where he drowned.
The Icarus story teaches a valuable lesson about hubris. Hubris is where one is dangerously overconfident or shows excessive pride.
There are some Ghanaian companies that tend to have this “hubris” trait especially in the absence of competition.
Some people might look at Surfline and ask themselves whether the company is guilty of hubris especially now that there is more 4G competition. The company is also getting a lot of negative feedback from users of their service.
So, is Surfline Ghana guilty of hubris?
In 2014, Surfline Ghana officially launched their 4G LTE service to the public. Surfline looked to be the new hip ISP provider of 4G services. I mean, they even had a Tumblr blog(!)
Like many companies at the start, they were the talk of the town. They had lots of running ads and promotions to garner public interest. Their 4G network was indeed fast and many people wanted to get in on the action.
But it was pricey at the first go around. Regardless, most Ghanaians wanted to see what the service was about. It sort of became a status symbol to have a Surfline dongle or MiFi device.
It seemed that Surfline was on top of the 4G LTE foodchain as other competitors like Blu couldn’t keep up with Surfline’s marketing blitz. If you wanted 4G service, everyone was all about Surfline.
But cracks in the armor slowly began to show. 4G services in parts of the city were getting worse. Customer service didn’t seem to be as good as it was in the past.
But you can’t be the king of the hill forever. There were other players gearing up to take Surfline’s spot and Surfline’s response didn’t seem to be enough.
No More Honeymoon
Like most companies who are off to a very hot start when they launch, the shine eventually dies out. Surfline GH was getting high praise for its 4G services even though its prices were still a bit on the high side.
Surfline’s customer service was stellar. If they had a problem with their network, they gave back free data to customers for long periods of service interruption.
But cracks in the armor slowly began to show. 4G services in parts of the city were getting worse. Customer service didn’t seem to be as good as it was in the past. There were rumors of service personnel inside of Surfline selling data on the side and customers complained about their data running out even when they were not using it. For a company that wanted to be above the fray, it seemed like Surfline couldn’t maintain the high bar that they set for themselves.
Pretty soon, the competition stepped up. Busy Internet rebranded to Busy and launched their own 4G service with lower prices to compete in the 4G market space. It wasn’t too long before MTN acquired their own 4G license and launched their 4G service across the country.
It seemed like the playing field for 4G LTE services in Ghana had become level. Surfline Ghana was no longer the king of the 4G hill.
Rock Bottom Or Temporary Setback?
Surfline continued to take hits from customers. Complaints about bad service and disappearing data seemed to haunt the company.
@SurflineGH is not providing as advertised.
— Wobbly Headed Bob (@theDZfa) January 20, 2018
Still no refund. No call back. You have not returned 12GB of data that disappeared when the device was off and not working. @dem_talks went in store, your technical team have evidenced this too…but here we are. What a shame @SurflineGH@asksurfline. Poor service #Ghanahttps://t.co/b7uXU9Z6PS
— Sena (@LadySena) January 19, 2018
Rumors of a takeover from Vodafone also began to emerge but it would appear that it was more of a partnership deal for Vodafone to get into the 4G playing field.
Other issues emerged when Surfline appeared to lay off some of its staff in what looked like a bid to cut costs.
In the face of competition, Surfline hasn’t really done much to their 4G data price points. In all honesty, Surfline’s 4G prices are still in the high range. 1.5GB of data will cost you 20 GHC. If you compare the price to our Nigeria neighbors, you can get 3.75 GB by paying 2000 Naira (Which is about ~20 GHC) (Source: Glo Nigeria).
But Surfline did launch a promotion called “10 for 10” which allows customers to buy 10 GB worth of data for 10 GHC for a period of 6 hours. It was a good idea and many customers responded well to the promo.
But it wasn’t long before complaints started to come in about poor service during the promo.
Now, that @SurflineGH GHC10 for 10GB is an absolute scam. Takes several minutes to update common apps. 20+mins, 4G? ♂
— Ibuchukwu (@beans_stew) January 18, 2018
So is Surfline Ghana an example of “Icarus”? Were they too overconfident in the beginning and failed to maintain their standards especially in the face of low competition? Did they fail to see the new competition of MTN and Busy 4G as a threat?
It might not be too late for Surfline to change up and try to reach the bar that they set for themselves in the beginning.
Otherwise, the company has just become another victim of “hubris”.<<<< gt;<<< ><< p>< /p>
Joseph-Albert Kuuire is the creator and editor of TechNovaGh.com, an online digital platform focusing on technology in Ghana.
I’m also a UX Designer, book reader, and tech enthusiast (duh!)
Email: [email protected]