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[Resolved] Dear Hubtel: You’re not Serious with Devs! Here’s why

Posted in News, and Personal

UPDATE: 14:02 GMT, 09 September 2017:

‘Johnny Walker’ left a comment. As foolish and stupid as the person or persons behind such a sockpuppet is/are, they can’t leave their comment. He/she/it/They keep deleting their comments. If you think you said something sensible, why not leave it there for posterity sake?

Message from Walker

“Am I sure I’m a developer?”

UPDATE: 19:54 GMT, 06 September 2017:

Someone, namely, Johnny Walker, sent this comment. We suspect the Johnny Walker is a worker at Hubtel, or is he/she/it?

Message from Johnny Walker

I rest my case, and I leave you to draw your own conclusions on a platform responses from customer care below indicate it can’t and shouldn’t be used at the moment, however I’m being attacked for.

Heck, I don’t run a company with branches around the world, plus haven’t even employed anyone before so I can’t talk about how a company is run, nor know how to build an API documentation developers will love and use.

Besides, my concern was the challenges I had with using Hubtel’s API for Payments. During our visit, none of their other products was that much interesting to me, except for the Payments.

Branding Hubtel as “Non-Serious Company” would be folly on my part, because I’ve not used any of their services, yet! (At least they’ve not allowed me to. Duh!). But with regards to their API docs and API use, they’re are Hubtel is Not Serious with Devs!


UPDATE: 06 September 2017

So I was hinted by Ato later today that very likely, the channel I communicated my concerns via was wrong, and thus, the response I couldn’t receive.

Ato suggested I channel the email via their customer care emails, and I’ll be attended. Voila, I got a response back, and here you go:

Message from Hubtel

If you’re a developer, looking for a payment solution, I think you can make your own conclusions from the above responses.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions whether Hubtel merchant APIs are a go or no-go.

Oh well, nothing different from what I expected in the form of responses though.

That’s the update for now, and thanks to all who gave me the impression I could get in touch with them for developer-to-developer assistance, however letting me waste my time when emailing the customer care was the so-called right approach.

smh.


As part of the Tech Leads Summer 2017 Programme, it was a great honor to have the opportunity visit Hubtel Ghana. If you remember mPower, well it is now Hubtel. As a matter of fact, mPower is just one of the products and services of today’s Hubtel.

Edit: “Small correction. MPower is not Hubtel, never was never is… MPower was not a product of SMSGH as the public saw it. It was a statutory registered company with 4 ordinary individual shareholders”, I’m told.

The trip was an opportunity for participants of the hands-on summer program dedicated to web dev, tech and IoT to get a real-world insight into how some tech companies are run.

Fortunately, Hubtel and Rancard welcomed us into their HQs for a wonderful experience. This article is about Hubtel, which since our visit, has proved nothing but the opposite of what their slogan keeps shouting to be: “Rethink Customer Care”.

According to the many lectures we received, Hubtel is the evolved betterment of the previous products and services that existed. As a developer, as it stands today, I think the experience is meh, in relation to the products I’ve played with, namely, their API!

At the moment, their slogan sounds more like, “Customer, Rethink, we don’t Care” to me.

Oh wait, am I even considered a “Customer”?

Hmmm, Payments issue…

Sometimes when people wish PayPal operated at full throttle in Ghana, I side with them, although our banking/financial system is such an abysmal one.

If PayPal operated in Ghana, or perhaps Stripe, maybe, just maybe, the payment solutions available in Ghana would be much inclined to be developers-oriented. Hubtel is, with much great pleasure, totally negligible as to how to make a developer smile.

After soaking in all the payments ‘preaching’ and how amazing Hubtel’s payment systems are, helping developer accept and make payments in their own applications using their rich API, I decided I had to take the platform for a ride.

Plus, it seemed like a timely offering considering the AlwaysOn WiFi project I run needed a helping hand with making payments.

Currently, people buy vouchers to use our WiFi network. What if they could generate their own vouchers?

Already in existence is a rich Node.js API for the Unifi Controller, of which I’ve adapted to help users of the WiFi network check how many bundles they have left. Works perfectly.

Since we live in Ghana, and mobile money is now considered the distin, giving my users the option to get their own vouchers as and when and where they need was/is crucial.

And so?

What Happened?

I was pumped to learn the many features of Hubtel on the day of our visit. I was happy to get a quick overview of ways I could integrate their system into mine.

I spent the rest of the day after our visit to Hubtel prepping my Express to consume the developer API. All was looking great until I was forced to write the piece below:

Message to Hubtel

Good evening,

I’ve gone through the documentation for Hubtel, and things aren’t clear.  Here are some questions I have and will appreciate if you can point me to where *exactly* in the documentation I can find the answers:

About my last question, i ask because, for comparison, I got started with Python & Javascript of Stripe in under 30 minutes. I’ve spent some 3 hours already with Hubtel, and still can’t tell what package is the recommended for use.

I’m a ‘lazy’ developer, and the hubtel documentation isn’t helping in any way. I’m almost done with my UI, prepped the routes etc in my Express, and now, I have no idea what to do to get going with Hubtel.

Kindly guide me to where in your documentation I can find answers to the questions above.

Thanks.

If you’ve probably used the Hubtel API before (has anyone actually succeeded doing that yet?), my concerns above should not bother you, and probably, you don’t understand where I’m coming from.

This is the case, I’ve never used their API before, and as a developer, I’m used to digging through rubbles to find gems and whatnot. Sometimes, there’s nothing to dig through that much, and Hubtel just gave me one.

I use and have used a lot of APIs. In all, Hubtel very likely is one I can readily remember with such a convolutedly presented documentation.

If you don’t know your documentation is bad, then it is likely because you’ve not asked an outside developer build something using the docs (not a developer from within). It can be tempting to think your docs are good because you can follow it. But can a total stranger follow?

Well, if you think for a second that because Hubtel claims to “Rethink Customer Care”, and so I’ve received any form of answers to the questions raised above, then you’re mistaken. In fact, they’ve not responded to provide assistance in any form whatsoever.

From where I sit, it sounds to me all they wanna say to me is: “We’ve built it, if you can’t use, don’t worry us!”

Q: Did You Follow Up?

Just like the Tigo Cash advert, “Yes I did!”. In fact, our one and only Ato Ulzen-Appiah decided to help me follow up, and did ping one of the lead developers at Hubtel, who could get the ball rolling.

“Yes I Did” – Source

And the ball rolling, the person did:

Message to Hubtel

So the question is, where is the ball now?

Up til now, nobody got in touch to either offer assistance, nor assure me as to whether my request is being considered or improvements made to here and there or whatnot.

The Timeline

July 20 (day of visit to Hubtel): Emailed one of the developers at Hubtel to thank him for their warm reception and confirm I would get in touch should I get stuck with using their platform

July 20: The Developer response

July 21: I emailed my questions

July 24: Had no response, thus I forwarded the message to Ato. With his super powers, he could help me get answers.

July 25: Ato pings yet a different top developer at Hubtel.

Nothing happens. They didn’t give a damn about Ato’s message.

August 7: I decided to ping the emails I received from the previous Ato’s ping and see, who knows, someone might actually be at Hubtel this time.

August 7: Bingo! We get a response from this top developer Ato pinged earlier. This developer cc’d yet another developer, whom whether he/she exists or not, is yet to be determined. Heck! Quantum states, you never know the answer until you measure, and it hasn’t been measured yet, so no idea if this guy/lady exists.

September 6: Emailed customer care and got answers to questions in same day above.

Today, September 5: Nothing yet!

‘Just this you bore?’

From what I understood, Hubtel built their API for developers to use. Very likely, building their API cost them lots of money and man power and time. The only step left is getting developers, building different applications stretch and test and play with the platform for real.

That’s the only step left. In that step, I doubt they have any interest in doing so.

‘We’ve built it. If you can’t use it, don’t worry us’

I am really annoyed and disappointed with the outcome of Hubtel, simply because sooner or later if no one uses their platform, they’ll go and stand somewhere and claim Ghanaian developers don’t patronize Ghana-made platforms.

The question is, what have you done to let developers use it.

I got started with Stripe, both their vanilla Javascript and Python libraries, integrating into an application I built some time ago under an hour.

And that got me hooked! It was fun, easy and streamlined. All the checkboxes are checked. All the possible scenarios are handled. The up-and-running steps are outlined. No missing snippets. I could say, it just worked.

Unfortunately, Stripe doesn’t function fully in our local setting and involves having residence/bank whatnot details in a supported country, thus payments are all credit/debit cards related. A whole fuss.

A locally made API tied into a very common payment system, Mobile Money sounded like a very valid opportunity to get me going with a local API for real.

Guess what! Bummer!

The more developers integrate your API, the more users that might get to know about Hubtel, and the better the platform could be evolved.

The more developers use the platform, the use cases in which they apply your platform will likely offer insights into what should be added, improved or dropped.

But for Hubtel, Duh!

How it is Done!

As an example how real business takes customer support seriously, and actually and truly “Rethink Customer Care”, see this:

Message to Ello.co

On July 17, I reported an issue to Ello.co

On July 18, they had deployed a fix. As a matter of fact, the issue was resolved in under 24 hours.

Now, this is a company that doesn’t do API stuff. They don’t handle payments, they don’t shout on top of their voices, “Rethink Customer Care”, yet they fixed an issue quickly.

Ello is a platform for creatives and artists to showcase creations. That’s what they do.

With such a quick turnaround, if I had any business to do with them, won’t I increase my engagement? This is just one of some positive turnarounds I’ve had with organizations who are seriously ‘Rethinking Customer Care’, and have ended the ‘Rethink’ part, and actually doing.

In Conclusion

The next time a Ghanaian developer is not even remotely interested in going with a local platform, it might likely be as a result of experiences they’ve had. No organization is perfect, however, many Ghanaian organizations ride on such notion to make a fool of people when they realize one’s options are limited.

And who knows, using their API smoothly would probably trigger me to get into using some of their numerous products someday. Or even more, talk and recommend their products to others.

As it stands now, with such bad taste in my mouth, to the extent it caused scars on my tongue, I have no other option than to spit this ‘Rethink Customer Care’ concocted recipe out of my mouth, and move on with my life, looking for alternatives or someday, having a better option.

Until then, Hubtel, You’re Not Serious!

  • Tωυm βΔrim∆н

    They are always like that.. even when they were running mpower, I had always searched for a documentation on how to implement their API to work with woocommerce under WordPress I had none! so I have to create a blog tutorial to help my fellows seeking solution. and my traffic was huge! https://blog.profileability.com/set-link-mpower-wordpress/

    • Jonny Walker

      and how did you go about getting the so called help you speak of? Emailed one of their developers?

  • Jonny Walker

    Haha, i laugh and for good reasons, so you already had a preconceived notion Hubtel couldnt help you but you sent them an email anyway to prove a point? Hmm your motives are rather strange.

    You didnt know Hubtel wasnt MPower?hmmm are you sure you are a real developer? Well i guess thats what a “Not real degree” gets you. Ah well let me sip my cup of sobolo and move along.

    Tell the truth have you ever tried to work there and they rejected you? Or maybe you went there and saw the good work being done and yor devious mind told you to try and use them to promote your joke of a platform to rival amazon?? Regardless i cant care less my friend, you can go to your little tweets and blogs and say all you want to say, truth is no one cares, well atleast not Hubtel Ghana. if you are so frustrated and brilliant why havnt you built your own API? Well l can tell you why.

    Hubtel is the only company in the country that has the solution you seek and you can act all petty as you want, customers are satisfied with their services. Can you say the same for your little project?? i guess not because no one uses it right?

    You have actually ruined any opportunity for all your school mates who might ever want to work there or even pay them a visit my friend. Kudos rex, Bravo amigo!!!!

    • Pro Tip: Don’t disguise your identity, unless you want people to NOT take you serious.