Saturday, October 23, 2010

Large telephone bills

There are two letters from consumers about the large telephone bills that they received for services that they did not subscribe to, or for services that young children may incur without being aware about it. It shows the bad state of affairs in Singapore when businesses increase their profits without regard to the interest and fair treatment of consumers.
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rex said...

Rex comments as follows,
Let me share with you a similar story, which might well have been the same reason why the article writers had incurred $9000 phone bills.

For me, I got handphone upgraded free of charge to android OS phone, as my contract reached 24 months. It was fun fiddling around playing with it. But it wasnt fun when i got a big bill of $100 for "GPRS" charges the same month.

The problem is that when buying the handphone, the operators assume you want GPRS by default. Secondly, there are numerous small icons preloaded on the handphone "desktop" that bring you to their website if you accidentally pressed it. And if you are in a public area you might actually be accessing internet accidenally for long time period if you hit some button and forgot to close properly the "Application" i.e. the software...!

By right, all handphones should be sold together with a consent form for gprs activation. Because that is where this sudden charges come from! How do you expect the average auntie to know all this.. she just picks up a free, nice cute trendy phone becuase it is free, unaware that it is by default gprs enabled!

It took me a while to learn that if a wifi is within range the gprs will not be used and i could still surf internet for free if the wifi operator (like, my own home) gives the password key. Herein lies a second problem. If for any reason, your home wifi breaks down and signal is lost, the smartphone is so smart, it switches to gprs without telling you, and you continue to surf but you endup wiht huge bill of GPRS charges.

When i explained to the operator, that i had never asked for GPRS when i took the free phone, they agreed to waive half the cost, and the turned off the GPRS from their mainframe the next day just like that. But i am not totally happy about it.

It was an unfair contract to pre-activate GPRS without the customer given a chance to understand it. It took me some time to understand, now i know how to avoid being fleeced.

To curb such unfair sales methods, i think iDA should make it mandatory for operators to deactivate GPRS by default and fine the operators who flout the rule. Customers should be made aware that they can still surf internet for free using WIFI (where password is accessable).
GPRS is really a premium service for those willing to pay to surf interent anywhere in singapore and outside. GPRS should be deactivated when the operators sell the phones!!!!!!!!!!!


Redstar said...

This is just one of the dirty tricks by the telcos to boost their income at the expense of the uninformed consumer. There should be a cap on these hefty charges or some sort of limit on the user's credit limit eg. my credit card's limit is set at $3500 on my request to limit risks of card loss and fraud.

There is also a risk of losing one's mobile phone, and the finder using it for calls overseas, hence a cap should be imposed on user's credit. It is simple logic here, yet telcos have deliberately failed to protect their customers with simple procedures & safety nets because they are hard up; so they pray you make a bad mistake.

In this case of a $9000 bill, the aggrieved should ask to meet with the manager of the staff handling this issue as well as have a coffee with their corporate customer service/quality manager and discuss whether the case should be referred to the ministry for resolution; as well as procedure changes to protect other consumers as this is bound to happen again.

I also advise not to pay by Giro for payments with variable amount every month. Fixed amount payment like monthly insurance premiums are OK with me.

Incidents of this nature happen in SG, I believe due to the below contributing circumstances :

1. Inaction by the authorities.
2. consumer protection in SG is not powerful enough and underfunded by the public & Gov.

3. SELFISH nature of SINGAPOREANS in seeking to protect their countryman from bad business practices. Every action is calculated to benefit themselves. Few are willing to speak out and apply social pressure on corporate bullies. And the bullying continues.

4. Failure of free market model and concept of capitalism in a changed world.

Sometimes I wondered what our civil servants are doing, beside collecting high salaries, bonuses and perks?

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