Saturday, January 22, 2011

Take care of your customer

I used a server at a data center operated by a company called Skydio two years ago. Their service was excellent and their charges were reasonable. Skydio was bought over by another company X a few months ago.

I had a difficult time with X. Due to the inexperience of their staff, I encountered several problems. On each occasion, their staff were focused on pushing the responsibility to the customer, rather than solving the problem, and tell the customer about the additional fee to rectify the problem. When asked, the staff were not aware about the fees. In most cases, the fees are rather high. I consider that they are holding the customer to ransom, as the server is critical  for the operation.

Recently, I transferred my domain name from a previous hosting company to X. I only wanted to reduce the hassle of managing my domain names at several places. What should have been a simple operation turned out to be a nightmare. The staff of X did not handle the transfer completely. It resulted in my website being down for 2 days and my mail server down for 5 days. During this time, I had to call their support center and sales staff on more than 1 dozen occasions. They did not reply to several calls or e-mails. When we got through, their staff kept saying that there would be additional charge for each service.

I finally agreed to pay a ransom price of $54 to update 3 records to rectify the problem. This is additional cost that I would not have to pay if I had remained with the previous provider.

Many companies in Singapore are focused on increasing their revenue at the expense of the customer. This is why the cost of doing business is so high in Singapore. I wonder if some of these companies give hassle to the customer on purpose, so that they have the opportunity to levy additional fees. The culture of fleecing the customer or the public seemed to be quite prevalent in Singapore.

It is a simple matter for me to change the service provider at the end of the contract or even to incur the additional cost of early termination. But I wanted to share this experience, so that our leaders are aware about how bad things have become in Singapore over the past decade.

Tan Kin Lian


Luke said...

I just sent the following "feedback" to Standard Chartered Bank.

Given the run around!

15 Jan Sat
My wife and I went down to the Standard Chartered Bank branch at Nex on 15 Jan to open a joint time deposit account. We were told that only "fresh funds" were accepted. So we requested to sign the necessary documents first and to deposit a cheque on another day. This is to avoid my wife having to make another trip as she has to look after our kids. It was done.

17 Jan Mon
I went down to the branch to deposit the cheque.

18 Jan Tue
We were asked to go down to the branch to sign some documents. So I went down to collect them and bring home for my wife to sign.

Unnecessary step:
(Back home, I realised that one document was for acknowledging the receipt of gifts for depositing $38k, $188k and $388k. I do not understand why I have to sign them since the amount deposited do not qualify us for the gifts. A blank bank receipt was also enclosed.)

19 Jan Wed
I returned the signed documents to the branch.

21 Jan Fri
Incomprehensible step and adding insult to injury:
I was asked to go down to the branch to sign the receipt - "this is a standard procedure to acknowledge that you have placed a FD with us n will be receiving the official receipt fr us so we can process n mail it out at the earliest convenience. And we will process the fixed deposit once this is signed". What the ...!

I told the officer that I no longer not wish to open the account and that the bank mail my cheque to my home.

I was then asked to go down to the branch to collect my cheque "out of security purpose".

Compared to Citibank which would send a courier to my home to let me sign the documents, my experience with Standard Chartered Bank is full of hassle. I do not expect the same treatment by Standard Chartered but I do expect a clean, efficient process and not mindless procedures.

Createwealth8888 said...

Sometime, there are reasons that are not so obvious why one service provider or retailer is cheaper than the others until we discover them too late.

veronika said...

This is the effect of a rising and bouyant economy.

When business is good, who cares about customer service?
You pay even for the simplest of jobs

It is when the economy is going down that we see businesses running after the customer and offering "extras"

I tried to buy a banker's draft or sometimes called a demand draft at one of our local banks.
I was asked if I was a customer.

I replied "of course" if I buy the product from you!

But their definition of a "customer" was someone with a deposit account with them. So despite holding a CPFIS account with them, I was not a "customer"

What to do?.. this is the way many businesses operate. Costs, savings, return on investments are the KPIs.. customer satisfaction is just an incidental side bar to have but a cursory glance.. no wooly, fuzzy logic about customers.

My response is: walk away.. and where possible, do it yourself, or delay the task, or abandon.

Wilfred said...

Mr. Tan,

May we know the reason for using local hosting company? There are countless number of companies in United States which you can use. You can use a Virtual Private Service (VPS). Just search google and select companies with good feedback from forums.I use a VPS and I always get a response within 1/2 hour. Their service response time is 24hours x 7 days.

For domain names, if it is a *.sg domain, just park it with reputable local provider. Never with ulu companies. For *.com, again there are countless domain name providers in the US.

Recruit Ong said...

since early last year i have been with CIMB, a Malaysian bank that has just 2 branches in spore. Everything is free, free cheque book, free credit card, no fees or charges on simple transactions. local banks will charge this and that unless u complain and then they may or may not waive those charges.

Lye Khuen Way said...

Noticed that Standard Chartered had been bugging quite anumber of us !
Let me share my take about Local Banks & Foreign Banks, not that I deal with many or am a High Net Worth Customer. In fact, I am a "small customer", that may irritate some local banks' CEO !
1) Among Local Banks, only of late OCBC has become more Customer-Friendly. They have branches that open on Sundays. DBS is a sad case. As my late father put it : Having been delivered POSB on a silver platter, it just do not deem the man-in-the-street worthy of any considerations.

2) The Foreign Banks on the whole are a notch or two above our home grown banks. Unfortunately, Standard Chardered as a Credit-Card issuing entity , failed. Surprise : Maybank has one of the better saving rates. Must mentioned that Amex as a card issuer, despite its yearly fee, rank with CitiBank as the most responsive.
Just my opinions.

symmetrix said...

Just to share my experience.

My DNS domain name is hosted with a local company called Netsarius with whom I got my domain name registered. Good service and a human voice to help out.

When I wanted to find a web host, to host my website, I looked for a company that gave some form of guarantee. Netsarius and NewMedia Express (another local company) both gave 30-day money back guarantee. This allowed me to test my website, and gave me the option of backing out if it did not work out. NewMedia Express also has good service with human help. I chose NewMedia as they have a smaller startup web host space. I have not requested for a refund of my annual fee.

Yes, many foreign banks are providing better service than the local banks. Just found out that State Bank of India's Little India branch is open up to 8 pm Monday's thru Sundays for remittances, counter services and sale of investment products. I could not believe it, but it's true. Their FD rates are definitely better than local banks. So, I opened an a/c there.

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