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Afrihost 'Scam' Turns Out To Be Real

Author: Megan Ellis
Date: 2017-06-05
Do you know when an email is a scam? Afrihost recently challenged our better judgments by sending out an email that sounded like a scam.
We all know the saying - if it's too good to be true, it probably isn't. We apply this logic vigilantly when it comes to emails that seem to be scams. But what happens when what you suspect is a scam is actually a real thing? Well, this is what happened to some Afrihost customers after a promotional email was sent out on Thursday. CompareGuru takes a look at what happened and what we can learn from it…  

So What Happened?

On Thursday afternoon (1 June), Afrihost CEO Gian Visser sent out an email to certain customers notifying them that they qualified for a R4 000 discount on their fibre setup or migration; in essence, making it free. That's right - R4 000. The kind of money that is less akin to a discount and more similar to that which Nigerian princes or the lottery you didn't enter offer you. The email went on to ask customers to click on a custom link as the offer is not available on the normal Afrihost website. Between the discount and the custom link, red flags were raised in sceptical customers' minds.
Visser even went on to urge customers to click as soon as possible as only a limited supply of discounts were available. He added: "Unfortunately we do have a limited number of these free setups available - We have to pay this R4000 to the Fibre line company so this is a real cost for us and we, unfortunately, don't have unlimited reserves".
Confused customers contacted the company on Twitter to see if the email was real.
"This email seems like a scam. Is it really from Afrihost?" one customer asked, with a screenshot of the email. "I can confirm that this is really from us. :)," Afrihost said. After the company tweeted again that the email "is legit", another user responded with: "For real?! it looks SO fake [sic]."
It turns out that the email was completely real - but just written with a casual and enthusiastic tone. Afrihost said they would speak to their team to see how they could improve the communication of the promotion to seem less like a scam. Could it just be that we've become so cynical from all the scams that we can't believe companies would actually spend money on us? Possibly, but there are a few things we can learn from the amusing situation.

Lessons to be Learned

The misunderstanding of the Afrihost promotion carries a few lessons for both companies and consumers. Firstly, companies should note what triggers red flags for customers when it comes to promotions. Web-savvy consumers avoid custom links as they can often lead to malicious websites or serve as download links for malware. We won't fault Visser or Afrihost for the casual and enthusiastic tone of the email. After all, Afrihost's down-to-earth communication and charisma in their online presence is part of what attracts customers to them. A quick glance at their Twitter profile shows you that this is all just part of the company's identity. However, customers are right to be sceptical of the emails they receive. So what can consumers learn from this? If you're unsure of a promotion or communication from a company, contact them on their verified channels. This includes verified social media profiles (which have a blue tick) or via the contact details on their official sites.

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