Monday, June 24, 2019

Singapore Airlines -- a grate way to fly

Now I can understand why Singapore Airlines is no longer the world's best airline.

I do not travel as often as I would like to, but each time that I do, more often than not, I would encounter something that would upset me or my fellow travellers.

The latest is my upcoming trip to Phuket. I had booked online four economy-class tickets earlier this month. This included paying for our seat selections, a marketing strategy that obviously is profit-oriented but cleverly promoted as one of service.

Having settled the hassle of maneuvering through the still unfriendly website, I thought I could relax and just look forward to the holiday.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Last Saturday, as I was checking my email, out popped a bunch of messages from the airline informing us of a change in flight schedules and operating aircraft, together with seat allocations that were arbitrarily done, never mind the fact that we had paid for our selections.

Of course, the airline promised to refund the seat selection fee, but that was not the issue I had problem with.

My unhappiness was that the airline had conveniently given us alternative seats that were way back in the new aircraft.  Why couldn't it have assigned seats in a similar location? After all, I had taken the trouble to book early and surely deserved the right to have equivalent seats.

It was obvious that the airline didn't bother considering our right because when I called the hotline to complain (vigorously, I might add), more acceptable seats were offered.  The question is, why couldn't this have been done in the first place?

Was this because it was dealing with 'cattle-class' customers who could easily be ignored, or maybe pacified by simply refunding their seat selection fee?

Such high-handedness, I must say, leaves a very sour taste in the mouth.

As a customer, I can accept unexpected changes and disruptions in flight schedules and the attendant consequences. But when they happen, is it too much to expect a little bit more consideration, even for the cattle class?

 I believe the airline knows the hassle one has to go through trying to get in touch with its customer service officers whenever such a disruption occurs. And one cannot help but feel that it makes a deliberate effort to avoid speaking to its customers.

As a Singaporean, I have been proud to see our airline flying high for so many years. However, it is sad to note that with intense competition from the Middle Eastern airlines, it is struggling to maintain, what it used to boast about, the "service that other airlines talk about".

My feeling is that complacency has started to set in. However, my biggest fear is that it has somewhat lost its way while it was up there in the stratosphere -- and there is no longer Lee Kuan Yew around to bring it down to earth.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bee Choo's a gem
It's been more than a year since my last post. I am back at it today as I've just met someone at the National Eye Centre who went the extra mile to show exemplary service.

Although I had told her that I appreciated what she did, I thought I should put it down on record if only to remind me that there are still many around us who know the meaning of service.

I went to the eye centre this morning - with a lingering concern - for what is known as a "pre-op" check-up before my cataract surgery next month.

I told the woman who handles admin matters about it. She was kind enough to pick up the phone to check whether I could see the doctor for "just three minutes".  No luck. Doc was overwhelmed with patients.

The next stop -- to check my heart and take my blood pressure -- was where I met nurse Bee Choo and her colleague.

Procedure done, I got talking to her while waiting for a report to be signed.  I told her of my concern over my astigmatism and a few other things.

Bee Choo, cheery and articulate, readily answered and explained every query I threw at her.

I asked whether my surgery was going to be laser-assisted or by ultrasound.  Off she went and before long, was back to say it would be the latter.

On my failed attempt to talk to the doctor, she assured me confidently that she would pop into his clinic to clarify with him about my concern.

Know what?  By the time I finished paying my bill, she was ready with the answer.

Bee Choo obviously has a way with people. She's a gem, no doubt.

Image result for images of a bouquetA bouquet for the lovely lady

Monday, March 20, 2017

Len gives Devi of URA a bouquet

My friend Len makes it a point to show his appreciation whenever he comes across service staff who makes an effort to understand his problem and feedback.

He wrote this note (below) to me to convey his "thank you" to the URA lady who attended to him.  I had earlier alerted the statutory board to his feedback in my blog.

What's more sweet of Len is his offer of our symbolic bouquet 🌹🌹🌹 to that pleasant lady. 
URA Website Saga

Thank you for helping me get the attention of the URA concerning their website.

A rather nice lady named Durga Devi called and we went through the various steps I took to try to pay my parking fine. She too, expressed surprise, at the lack of helpfulness of the website and the inordinate time it appeared to take to download info to their data base. Point taken by her and I believe she will nudge the system into efficiency.

What impressed me was her pleasant attitude and the genuine attempt at getting to the bottom of the problem. We didn't solve it at the time, but I'm sure she will give it a good go.

May I offer a bouquet for this attitude displayed and say how pleasant it is to deal with officialdom that tries hard to fix the problem and not dive under the bush of excuses.

Many thanks,

Leonard McCully
20th March 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Unfriendly URA website sends Len on a merry-go-round; then he discovers AXS

My friend, Leonard McCully, will not forget to display his parking coupon the next time he goes to Amoy Street.  He learnt his lesson after being given a runaround -- twice -- when he tried to pay a composition fine online.

Here's his story: "I foolishly parked at Amoy Street last Sunday (March 5) after church and failed to  display a parking coupon thinking it was free parking on Sundays. 

The attendant came and left a ticket on my car. No excuses, I should have put a coupon up.

Now the fun and games started. On the notice was the offer of composition at $30 and failure to pay within 7 days, the threat of an enhanced penalty would take place.

I went into the URA website Went through the steps and got absolutely stuck when the computer said my notice number was incorrect. Several reattempts and no joy. So I called the number given and got the runaround to go back to this unhelpful website. 

So I called the hotline and a nice fellow instructed me to try the website again in two days as their system may not have been updated. He said it usually took two days to enter the data. Hmm. Then why the threat of action after 7 days??, Why not 7+2 days??

Right, I waited three days to make sure and again I was given the runaround by this unhelpful website yet again. I waited another day and tried again and this was Thursday. My 7 days was fast expiring as I anticipated they don’t do any work on Saturday and Sunday. So on Friday I went back to the hotline and another nice fellow heard me out and suggested I get to an AXS machine to pay.

I found that rather inconvenient and said that there ought to be a more friendly way of doing things. Then he told me I could download the AXS application and do it from there. 

Eureka!! In 5 minutes I was done. Thirty dollars left my bank account and I was done. I guess I should have looked at the rear of the penalty notice and I would have spotted the AXS  pathway. Did you know you can pay for lots of stuff on this app.

But, my issue with URA, is that their main website should be working and for that matter, their data entry should also be more efficient in this day and age where their officers scoot around with cameras and electronic tablets that should be downloaded in a jiffy, instead of two working days. Where is this efficient Singapore we proudly tout?

Wasted a lot of time. If anything, this taught me to remember to put a coupon up the next time I go to Amoy Street."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

M1-StarHub saga continues; it's the fixed-line now

The frustrations of my move from StarHub and M1 continued this morning. This time it was over my fixed-line telephone.

In my last post, Moving from StarHub to M1, meeting the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, I related my frustrations over the service I had encountered for my broadband.  But fortunately, it ended up well only because I was able to get the help of a computer-savvy friend, not the M1 contractor.

The fixed-line problem started last Thursday (March 9), a day after it was switched from one telco to another.  All the phones in the house suddenly went dead.

I called M1 to find out why.  I managed to get customer service officer Melanie on the line.
She was the officer who had called me after my first blog posting as she wanted to find out more about what had happened.

As she wasn't able to send a technician to my house, she decided to guide me on how to troubleshoot.
After what seemed like eternity, she finally gave up and said she would arrange for someone to come over to get things fixed.

She also warned me that the technician would have to charge extra if there was a need to run extra wiring.  I agreed as it seemed fair.

Come Saturday (today),  another M1 technician named Teo came, with his chubby son tagging along.  He asked me for the location of the box containing the splitter.  I didn't know and he also couldn't find it.

Later, I brought him to a room on the second floor where the old StarHub router and the new M1 Assus router were.  He simply disconnected the StarHub router, came downstairs to my computer room where the Huawei modem was, plugged a line into one of the ports and then connected it to the telephone wall socket.

He tested it and, hey presto, it worked!  Soon, all the phones were ringing.  I asked Teo what he did.
He said he just had to pull out the StarHub line that was still in the router's port.

Then came the surprise --  he said he would have to charge me $50 extra.This was in addition to   what he would be billing M1.

Was there any extra wiring done?  No.   Was he doing any extra work that was outside what he was contracted to do by M1?  I don't think so.

So what was the extra $50 for?  In his invoice, he wrote: "Install a link-up tel point at ONT".
I don't know what ONT means, but there was certainly no installation of a telephone point.

I told him that I disagreed with what he was charging, but I would still pay him as I did not want to have an argument with him. I also said that I would be bringing the matter up to M1.

And this is what I am telling M1:

1.  Your installation service sucks.  You do not know what your contractors are doing. You allow them to charge your customer for service that is supposed to be part of the contract. The first M1 contractor wanted to fix a extra router that wasn't needed. And he didn't even complete the job. The second was just doing what he was contracted to do and yet had the gall to bill me for $50.

2.  Your customer service officers are generally good but are not sufficiently empowered to ease the pain of your customers. Telling them to say, "Sorry, I know where you are coming from.." does not help. Do allow your customers to speak to someone with the authority to resolve their woes.

3.  You are understaffed.  You cannot be trying to solve technical problems through explaining to us on what to do over the telephone. Many of us are just not tech-savvy.

4.  You cannot keep reminding us about your service charge. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth. When you send a technician to our homes to look into a technical problem that is really yours to resolve, remember that this is a service that you have to provide -- if you hope to withstand the fierce competition that is at your doorstep.

As a shareholder, it is my responsibility to see that you remain tip-top...even if I have to go to your AGM to raise the issue as there seems to be no one with authority to whom I could speak to.

Maybe it would also be a good opportunity to meet up with Ms Karen Kooi. 😊

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Moving from StarHub to M1, meeting the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I spent Saturday morning trying to complete my broadband moveover from Starhub to M1, and to set up the half-completed fibre network.  Believe it or not, in that short period, I was able to encounter the Good, the Bad -- and the Ugly.

The first thing I did was to call Alex, a technician working for an M1 contractor, but as expected, there was no reply.   Minutes later, surprise surprise,  he returned my call.

First thing he said was, do I want to an extra router to enhance the wifi signal in my TV room.
He had the day before quoted a charge of $160 for the router plus installation.  I declined the offer.

He then told me to call M1 to fix another appointment for him to come back to complete his job.  He did not finish it yesterday (Friday) as he could not receive a signal from the OpenNet fibre network.

The OpenNet people, two very pleasant workers, came a few hours later to get the connection fixed.  A job well done. One of them was from Myanmar.

Soon after, I left a e-message for Alex to tell me when he could come to complete his job, but there was no reply.

This morning, in my eagerness to get everything sorted out, I called  M1 and told a woman called Crystal about the uncompleted setup, hoping for someone to come down to my place later in the day. 

She said she would not be able to do so as Saturday is a non-working day.   She added that there would be a charge for someone to come to my place to fix the network.  I lost my  cool and told her: "Are you mad?" 

How could M1 charge for what is a free installation job which was not completed?

In a subsequent call, Crystal said she would get a technician to help me.   The technician, Norman, rang a short while later.  He explained to me,  pleasantly and patiently, how to go about fixing the router and the modem.

And it worked -- for the internet! However,  the Asus router supplied by M1 could not be used to boost the wifi signal in my TV room.  Reason:  two routers --  Asus and my Apple routers -- were located at different places.  These, he said, had to be connected with another line before it could function fully.

Although I wasn’t  sure he understood exactly what I was trying to put across to him, I was happy that the internet fibre connection was successful.  The weak wifi signal in our TV room remains an issue.

With the fibre connection fixed, the next step was to set the ball rolling for the move -- from Starhub to M1.

After consulting M1 about the rollover, I went ahead to cancel my broadband link with Starhub.  The woman from Starhub who took my call, asked why I was terminating my broadband account.  I told her briefly that I was not happy with the service  I had received at its Plaza Singapura outlet. 

She said I could not cancel my broadband without cancelling the phone fixed line at the same time as they came as a bundle.   She said I had to go down to one of its outlets if I wanted to do so. Strange!!!

I forgot to remind her that  my contract with StarHub had expired and therefore I  should be able to give up only what I wanted.

While talking to her, suddenly my fixed line went dead.  More strange!!!.

Minutes later I called Starhub again, this time on my iphone.  I was served by a lady called Arlene.  I told her what had happened and she went to check.   She returned to tell me that the broadband account had been cancelled --  at 11.44 am precisely -- but the fixed telephone line account was still active.  Even more strange!!!

Was the first StarHub woman who attended to me, trying to pull a fast one because I was switching telcos? Pity I did not ask for her name.

I leave it to you to identify who's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly . 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Overwhelmed, UberEATS fails to deliver

Celine wanted to make sure that her guests could be fed before they started their regular Friday meeting. So she pre-ordered 30 packets of various rice sets a day earlier from Mini Wok, using her UberEATS app.

She was also afraid that her order might be too big to fulfil, especially during the Lunar New Year season. But UberEATS went ahead and accepted her order.

Confident there would not be any hitch as she had used  the same company before, she waited patiently for the delivery, scheduled between 6.45 and 7.15 pm.

When 7.15 pm came and went, she thought the delay could have been caused by a traffic jam as a result of rain.  At 7.25 pm when there was still no sign of the food courier, she called UberEATS to

"The guy who answered my call said it would arrive in 10 minutes.  But in the app the estimated time of arrival displayed increased to 7.50 pm as I continued to wait," Celine recounted.

At 7.41 pm she called the Call Centre again to ask what had happened.

"This time, a different guy told me that their couriers could cancel any delivery without giving any reason," she said.

"So I had 25 hungry guests at 8.10 pm with no food. I wonder what happened to the 30 packets of food that were already prepared, supposedly."

What upset Celine was that UberEATS failed to inform her that it might not be able to fulfil such a large order. There was also no warning about sudden cancellation.

She said: "If they did so, then there is nothing to complain about as I took the risk knowingly."

Later that evening, UberEATS messaged her to apologise, adding that "the massive influx of orders, & the lack of couriers available"  were the cause of the non-delivery.

It was not unexpected that UberEATS would be overwhelmed during this festive season,  but  inadequate management and poor communications were something else -- and inexcusable. 

For that, UberEATS deserves a big BOO-QUET.