Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mio TV: Another unhappy customer

Jensen Aw is not the only person complaining about having to pay for an extra line in order to instal Mio TV in his home (See post below). The Straits Times today (June 30) carries a letter of a similar nature. Go to to read it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

'Unfair' to pay the extra for Mio TV

Jensen Aw is an EPL fan. And like many Starhub subscribers, he has to switch to Singtel in order to be able to watch the premier league matches which are starting the new season soon.

But he is unhappy that he has to pay for an additional phone line for his Mio TV which he thinks is unfair.

He wrote to me: "I am a defector from Starhub camp to Singtel camp due to the EPL rights. I stay in AMK and have to wait till June before the Mio TV coverage extends to my area. This means I have missed out on the free coverage of the champions league and europa league even though I want to sign up.

"The appointment was scheduled for last Saturday and I waited in anticipation. The installer came by and checked on the existing infrastructure. He is perplexed in going about the installation as my current phone jack is already shared between my M1 ADSL Line and my household phone line.

"He called up his Technical side for advice and finally the Sales department got back, saying that I will have to install another phone line in order for the Mio TV to work.

"My question is: Why do I need to pay for the additional phone line in order to watch my EPL? M1 ADSL is tapping on the the existing phone line of Singtel. Why can't these two Service Providers work together to provide us customers, a seamless experience instead of asking us to keep paying for their monopoly?

"Even though the monthly subscription is only $5 for the additional phone line, I really feel that it's unfair for me to pay the additional."

*** LATEST: Singtel responded today to ask for Jensen Aw's contact number and
assured me that it would be contacting Mr Aw to resolve his issue.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pathetic service from Singtel

I can now understand why my friend Quak Hiang Whai is so exasperated with Singtel.

More than two weeks after I sent the telco his feedback ("Waiting game with the telco people"), it has still not called him to find out about his frustrations.

I had given Quak's email address but some reason it has not written to him to address the issue.

It was only after my inquiring Singtel why it had not contacted Mr Quak that a customer relations officer finally, yes, again emailed and asked him for subscriber's details. It also left its phone number for Mr Quak to call back.

Quak had written to me yesterday (June 22) inquiring about the status of the feedback. He had heard from me that Singtel had wanted to contact him and was wondering what happened.

He said: "I am wondering if they are trying to contact me or the other way around. I thought if they are serious about contacting me, all they need to do is go into their Mio customer data base and look for a Mr Quak Hiang Whai.

"When I signed up, I gave them all my details like mobile phone numbers, email, home address, home numbers etc etc. What is so difficult about picking up the phone and call?

"They read your blog and found out the details of my complaint. At this point, I am not really keen to call them or talk to them at all because we are wasting our precious time.

"If they want to improve on their service, they just need to go to their customer database and look up the installation details for a Mr Quak Hiang Whai and investigate on their own. Why are they sending all these standard emails about please give us your name and details and call this number if you want to talk.''

From my few email exchanges with Singtel's customer relations department, I am not at all surprised over what happened -- or rather, not happened. For example, when I first got an acknowledgement to the feedback, the telco's executive named the wrong person involved.

Instead of Quak, he mentioned Ms Quak Lay Choo, another person who had written to my blog.

That has left me wondering whether the executive had read what I posted about Quak's case carefully. Really pathetic!!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Inconsiderate customers at Vivocity

Here's an interesting letter from a patron of a restaurant in Vivocity who witnessed
the behaviour of inconsiderate customers. Melissa Seet wrote to the Today newspaper which published her letter today (June 23):

The long wait

Inconsiderate customers make it tough for service staff to do their jobs

"LAST Saturday, at 9.15pm, I was in a group of 14 persons hoping to have a meal at a popular F&B outlet at VivoCity.

We called ahead to try and reserve a table, but were informed the restaurant had a no-reservations policy on weekends. However, the man on the phone was kind enough to tell us that if we could arrive within the next half hour, he would set aside a table for us because another group had finished their meal and looked like they would be leaving soon.

We hurriedly made our way to VivoCity only to find the group still seated and chatting away. We discovered that the group of seven youths had, over a period of three and a half hours, clocked up a bill of just $30.

The service staff told us they had presented the group with the bill just before we arrived, but they said they were not leaving and simply asked for more water. When a waiter asked again if they were about to leave so the restaurant could seat another group of patrons, they threatened to blog about bad service.

At 9.50pm - knowing full well that we were standing there waiting for them to leave - they told the service staff that they were not leaving till 11pm. They did not place any more orders.

We felt sorry for waiter because he was patient and polite, but powerless to address this situation, and had to put up with threats and bad manners. It was obvious that it was an act of childish rebellion, youngsters testing the boundaries of customer service and exerting their rights to be served water and to occupy the space for as long as they wanted, without regard for other patrons.

The restaurant was in a dilemma: Insist that these patrons pay and leave, or force us genuine customers to wait indefinitely.

Ungracious customers need to take a good, hard look at themselves, and recognise the part they have to play in keeping up service standards."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hitachi apologises to Anne

Hitachi has apologised to Anne Holloway for the poor service that she received after she purchased a washing machine from the company. Here's the email that was sent to her:

"Dear MS Anne,

With reference to the above mentioned, we would like to apologize for all the unnecessary inconvenience caused to your good self and your family.

With reference to the installation done (by) the installation team, we apologized for their improper manner that you have experienced. We have taken departmental action against them.

For all the frontline staff, we do have frequent meeting to prepare them to attend to our valued customers in a professional manner, however this time round, we have reprimand and advise them to be always helpful and professional in their work.

We hope the above information can address your concern.

Once again, thank you for your kind support. Your valuable feedback and information can provide an improvement in our after sales services.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need further assistance or if you have any more good suggestions for us to improve our service.

We look forward to serving you better.

Thank you and warmest regards.

Janet Ang
Customer Service Centre
Hitachi Home Electronics Asia (S) Pte Ltd"

Bouquet to Anne for asserting her consumer rights!

Friday, June 18, 2010

All well that ends well for Anne

The saga of Anne Holloway and her washing machine continues...

In my last posting, she said she was going to Best Denki in Takashimaya to check out the showroom display of Hitachi's 12 kg version of her new washing machine.

She did. She met the sales rep Ann and told her about the foggy, scratched panel on her machine and that the control panel came with a plastic shield, but not the see-through pane.

Ann immediately got on the phone to someone and soon after assured the other Anne that when a new shipment comes in, they will change the door assembly for her.

A grateful Anne wrote on her blog yesterday: "Pretty amazing service and assuredly NOT the usual run-of-the-mill Best Denki sales representative! If ever in the market for a washing machine, go and see Ann at Best Denki at Ngee Ann city; she has me for life!

"By comparison, Hitachi sent FIVE men (one a qualified Hitachi technician) to rectify their installation. As this happened on Wednesday afternoon....I was not at home and only communicated with the technician by phone.

"Despite my repeated comments about the see-through pane not being see-through, he steadfastly maintained that it was a dark colour and hence looked like it did.

"I held fast and kept saying that I have seen dark coloured plastic panels before and they did not look like they had fine scratches on them (imagine the 'satin' effect that you find on stainless steel but on plastic instead). We ended our conversations at an impasse --- until Ann intervened yesterday."

So it's all well that ends well....thanks to a helpful and understanding sales lady named Ann, and a relentless customer called Anne who knows and fights for her rights.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hitachi makes amends but...

Since I posted the item, "Hitachi's set-up a big letdown", there has been a development. The company sent five men to attend to Anne's complaint about the poor installation of her washing machine at her condo.

After the follow-up service, Anne wrote the following email to the company:

"Dear Hitachi Singapore

I had no time to email you sooner as I have been taking care of my husband.

However I did speak with your technician (one of five men you sent over yesterday) and he assured me that he's balanced the machine.

According to him as long as the bubble in the spirit level is within the circle (there are two, an outer and an inner circle), it is balanced. From that I take him to mean that there is a "+" or a "-" variation which is tolerable as the bubble does not have to be centered.

As for the hose connection, he did a much better job of securing the machine end fitting to our tap fitting, I could see that right away.

As for the window, he says it is like that because it is of a dark colour.

I beg to disagree on this point as all machines come with clear shields on displays and windows. This one did not; it had a shield over the control panel and that was all. Hence the marks and "fogginess" - it is not that I have not come across plastic panels before!

In any event he assured me that this is not a used machine (we did not mention demonstration or showroom machines, which it could have been), he insisted it is a new machine. As his definition of balancing the machine with the spirit level on the machine allows for a variance, I trust you will not mind if I take the same view of his idea of a "new" machine.

I intend to visit Takashimaya as soon as I have a chance and check their display machine more closely.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Holloway"

Let's hope what the Hitachi technician told Anne about the shield is accurate.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hitachi's set-up a big letdown

The Holloways bought a Hitachi washing machine from Best Denki at Ngee Ann City last week after the brand was recommended to them by a friend. However, when it was installed on Monday (June 14), the woman of the house, Anne, was totally disappointed.

She wrote a complaint to Hitachi's Customer Service Centre while at the same time
emailed a copy to me for posting on my blog. Here is her letter:

"Dear Hitachi Customer Service Centre,

"My GE washing machine breathed its last on Friday, June 11.

"In desperation, I emailed and called around and a friend who had bought a Hitachi 12 kg capacity washing machine recommended me to Hitachi.

"On Saturday morning I called Best Denki (Great World and then Ngee Ann City), Audio House and Harvey Norman. Of the three, Best Denki at Ngee Ann could offer me delivery on Monday. The others said Tuesday at the earliest.

"My husband and I walked from home to Ngee Ann City on Saturday afternoon and met a very knowledgeable and helpful sales lady called Ann and bought a Hitachi SF-160KJS from her. I was promised delivery between 3pm and 6pm on Monday, June 14.

"Unfortunately when the delivery was made, we were at NUH Cancer Center because my husband was starting his course of chemotherapy. However our very capable helper was at home, waiting for the delivery and installation.

"The men and the washing machine arrived just before 6pm.

"I received a call from one of the delivery men. First off he told me that they could not use our drain outlet as it is too high at 30" above the floor.

"As I had discussed this with Ann at Best Denki I had bought three extension hoses and they were in a Takashimaya bag waiting for the delivery and installation. So I asked the delivery man to connect the hoses up and drain the washing machine into the bathroom adjacent to the utility area.

"My eagle-eyed helper spotted a floor drain which had been concealed by our ancient Kenmore dryer (still going strong!). She told the men about this and they put the drain hose into this drain hole.

"Next, the delivery men discovered that there was nowhere to plug in the machine! Our previous machine had been hard-wired to a 20 amp electrical box of some kind (I do not know the technical name).

"So of course, they got back onto the phone with me and announced that as I did not have an electrical outlet for them to plug in the machine, they were unable to start the machine. And they were going to leave!

"I asked for my helper to whom I spoke. Subsequently she produced an extension cord for them to plug the machine into and enabled them to check that it was in working order!

"When I returned home, I found that in removing the old machine the Hitachi delivery men had cut the electrical cord instead of undoing it at the grey switch box.

"And it was only when I had an electrician come up today to fix up a new socket for the machine that I was informed how very dangerous it was for the Hitachi delivery men to do what they did - because the part of the wire that they had left dangling was 'live'!

"Just to make matters worse, another thing I noticed was that the see-through window of the machine was already scratched and scuffed. I was most surprised and disappointed; I asked my helper and she said the machine was already uncrated when it was brought into the apartment.

"Anyway, I managed to find my way through the more complicated than necessary Japanese 'English' manual and do a few loads last night. But I could see that the machine was not level (there is a helpful 'bubble' to indicate the level).

"So, today, when my helper arrived, I tried to balance the machine with her help.

"All that I succeeded in doing was to make my tiled floor black with the soft rubber 'foot' from the right front leg of the machine. It did not help that when I tried to get the two spare 'feet' onto the non-adjustable legs, they would not stay on.

"Moreover, I had a shower courtesy of the washing machine because in moving the machine, we moved the hose and the assembly came apart - spraying us with water.

"I have taken some photos of this and hope you will find them informative. They are at:

"I drive a small Lexus and the service and after care is excellent - as have my previous experiences with Japanese products and Japanese companies. But the washing machine and service from Hitachi has been a letdown.

"A copy of this email is going to my friends (some of whom have the new Hitachi washing machines. Others are contemplating new washing machines this year) and also to a blog:

"I do not have your chief executive's name so I will ask you to ensure that he reads my email and views the photographs.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Holloway"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Irene's fed up with Starhub

Irene Hoe is demanding answers from Starhub over her problems with prepaid numbers, but she is having difficulty getting them to explain.

She wrote this angry email to someone called Buvan of the telco's Customer Affairs:
"Take note that this is no mere ENQUIRY on my prepaid number. I did not present this as an enquiry though clearly you wish to treat it as such.

"You obviously have not understood that I require an explanation from Starhub, an explanation that I have not received.

"Let me repeat and elaborate.

"I have three prepaid numbers registered in my name, in addition to one postpaid number. For the prepaid numbers, Starhub has been content to accept my automatic monthly top-up each month for years.

"Then some months ago, it abruptly cancelled one of them. This is the one that one of my sisters uses.

"That event forced me to go to one of your inaptly-named service centres to "register" a number for which I had been paying for years. And I was also forced to change that number.

"On that occasion and each time I have called in to find out why Starhub is sending out these unpleasant messages, your staff recognised that the numbers were registered to my name.

"Nonetheless, I was first told that my stored value, which amounted to two to three hundred dollars had suddenly evaporated because the number was not "registered".
"On that first occasion, Starhub staff assured me after I had "registered" the number that all was in order with the other two numbers. That turned out to be a lie.

"So again, I had to visit one of your "service centres" and after much to-ing and fro-ing and the intervention of one of your senior people, I got the stored value reinstated. But I had to change the number.

"Once again I was assured after that second inconvenience that all was in order. Now this, too, has turned out to be a lie, and you are again demanding that I "register" my THIRD prepaid SIM.

"Along the way, I have been forced to visit your so-called service centres to consolidate my accounts into one, not once, not twice, but three times. Each time, I would be assured that ALL my accounts would not be represented by ONE statement.

"Other visits have been occasioned by problems with my BlackBerry.

"To get married, I only had to go to the Registry of Marriages ONCE.

"I am fed up, Starhub. Do you understand? FED UP.

"Now, EXPLAIN yourself, Starhub."

Yesterday (June 11), Buvan replied to Irene:

"Dear Ms Hoe

Thank you for your email.

We note from our records that Prepaid number -------- is active and in good order. Further, we have done a test call and we are able to get a successful tone. We would appreciate if you could verify our findings.

"On the same note, we note from our records that your particulars for your prepaid service(s) are incomplete. Hence, we would appreciate if could visit our Customer Service Centres (CSC) with your identification to complete the registration. This is to avoid disruption of service due to incomplete registration. We apologise
for any inconvenience caused and seek your understanding on the matter."

After Buvan's response, Irene shot back another email to Starhub Customer Service with the subject heading, "You cannot be serious!"

She said: "One of my prepaid numbers is -------- and it is currently on loan to
a friend visiting from Scotland. She tells me that she's been getting messages from Starhub to get the SIM registered!

"What the heck is going on?

"It is linked to my Starhub account and each month it gets topped up and I pay by Giro. Please explain."

Meanwhile, Irene waits patiently for Starhub's reply...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eileen happy with Singtel

Ms Eileen Bittner, who lives in the US, was so upset when she found out that Singtel had deregistered her mobile number as it thought that it was inactive.

The telco told her that she could try to ask for the number back next time she was in Singapore. But she guessed it was highly unlikely to happen as it was a prepaid account.

Her family helps her to top up within the required period. Singtel's Customer Service said it sent me an SMS in February asking her to re-register my account.
But as she does not turn on her Singapore phone when she is in the US, she did not get the message.

Because the telco did not get a response, it “thought” the SIM was inactive and deregistered it.

Eileen's next top-up was to be in May, so when she turned on the phone to check exactly when she discovered she had been de-registered.

As her HiCard number is the one which all her friends and contacts in Singapore use to get in touch with her when she is in town, she decided to try her luck by asking Singtel to retrieve it.

The telco did --- and succeeded.

Eileen was so happy that she wrote to Singtel: "A million thanks for all your help in retrieving my HiCard number. I am so appreciative of your efforts as I know it must have been extremely difficult to track down a prepaid number/account. That you were successful in the endeavour and so kind to me throughout the process speaks very well of you and SingTel.

"I also wish to express my appreciation towards duty manager Kelvin Ho. He extended to me every courtesy, including the favour of copying all the contacts from my deactivated SIM to the new one.

"I am most impressed by and grateful for the assistance rendered to me."

A BOUQUET to Singtel this time around!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Waiting game with the telco people

Quak Hiang Whai wonders whether our telecoms' cable people do any kind of planning before they set out to do their work. His experience with these people has been disappointing --- each time he has an appointment they always arrive after the slated window waiting time.

He asks: "Isn't there room for them to give allowance to delays before they allot the waiting time?"

This is his latest experience: "I signed up for Mio tv and they gave me a 11 am to 1 pm slot. I stayed at home to wait for them. They came close to 1.30 which disrupted my lunch plans.

"Now the worst part was the Singtel person came and then said she ran out of long cable. So can't instal and had to come back! This is after I had told the sales person when I first signed up that my TV and phone point are not on same side.

"So we had to set another appointment and wasted everyone's time.

"Do these companies think our time is less important than theirs? The lady did apologise for delays and resetting appointment but as a service provider dealing with millions of customers they should have looked into such standard operational issues. And nib them."

Quak's story reminds me of doctors' appointments where waiting is the norm. But then these telecoms people are not dealing with life and death matters!

Maia's problem with agency that provides part-time maids

Ms Maia Kayleigh says she is one who believes in giving praise to anyone who puts in effort in his work as she believes in motivating such people. "I don't like to write and throw brickbats .. I just don't feel good putting someone down," she explains.

"However, I need to write in this time and let others know of my experiences. Like most residents in Singapore who are busy, I don't have much time to do housework. So here is my story ...

"I had a nasty & disappointing experience with Flexi-Home Services which I found on the internet while surfing for agencies that provide part-time maids.

"Its website at had the usual promises of 'satisfied customers', 'good service' etc. It had reasonable prices compared to better known maid agencies which charged more, so throwing caution and sense to the wind I then called up the number and spoke to a person called Rachel.

"Giving her my requirements of cleaning services etc, she then tried to match me with a maid. She then told me she had found me a 'new' maid.

"When I asked what was the feedback on this maid from previous clients, she could not provide me with any feedback as this maid had just joined her agency from an advertisement put in the papers by the same agency recruiting part-timers.

"I then asked what was the procedure if the assigned maid was not suitable. Rachel informed me that if I terminated the maid, I will need to pay a replacement fee to the agency but if the maid left of her own accord, I will get another replacement maid free, especially as this maid was new and had just joined the agency.

"The maid came on her first assignment with me and I paid her $45 for the 4 hours she worked for me, as well as the agency fee of $40. She was supposed to come with a supervisor who never turned up.

"The gist of this tale is not that the maid was bad or lousy as is the usual maid story. On the contrary, she was very good and I liked her working style and she was hardworking.

"However, she came only a few times before she said she couldn't come anymore because she had a full-time job, and her full-time work commitments got heavier because a fellow colleague was sick and she had to take over her colleague's responsibilities.

"She informed me that each time she came to my place for 4 hours, $5 was deducted from her pay of $45 to pay to the agency.

"When I tried to contact Flexi-Home Services again after the maid left, it was a nightmare from then on. My calls to its hotline number went unanswered and reached a voicemail every single time; messages left on its voicemail were ignored and not returned. I gave up after leaving 4-5 messages, and because of travel & work, I left the issue for a while before trying again.

"This time, I emailed the company and again it was Rachel who replied to my emails. She denied receiving any messages or voicemails from me - I didn't want to argue over a trivial matter so I left it at that.

"In my email, I told her that the maid assigned to me had left after only a few sessions and I wanted another maid to take her place. I explained very clearly that I wanted the maid to continue with me, but she couldn't.

"Rachel couldn't trace who I was, or the name of the maid who was assigned to me even when I gave her my handphone number and home address - she didn't seem to keep any records at all!

"Rachel emailed back and asked for a new replacement fee, despite the fact that it was the maid who left of her own accord and not I who terminated her services. When I reminded her what she told me, the whole thing spiralled downwards into a nightmare of nasty sarcastic emails from Rachel.

"She sneered at my questions about the replacement fee, and asked why I was making a fuss over a small amount which wasn't the issue at all. However she didn't get the point and became more insulting with each email.

"As she got more sarcastic, she gave up all attempts to use proper English and lapsed into broken ungrammatical Singlish in her emails. Just check their website and see what I mean about their Singlish description of their services and you will get what I mean.

"Eventually I just emailed her to call me back and talk about it, as she wasn't picking up the phone. She shot back a reply that she didn't want to talk to me because she wasn't sure what my 'motives' were, and to stop emailing her and 'don't disturb' her anymore. I was so fed up at this point that I just gave up.

"Flexi-Home Services seemed to be a one or two-man show run mainly or only by Rachel. I am wondering which Government authority oversees the various agencies that match homes with part-time maids.

"They collect a fee from the houseowner each time the maid comes, over and above the one-time agency fee that they charge. Multiply this by many households who use their services and their income is not a small amount.

"My understanding is that they 'match' house owners with part-timers who call their number, pretty much as how a tuition agency operates. They don't really screen the part-timers who call them, and their match-making motto is to team up the maid who lives nearest the house owner's homes.

According to their website, they are registered with ACRA ( which is easy to do) and not a Maids Agency or an Employment Agency. Does this mean that they do not fall under the MOM guidelines? "

An Oscar for airport sales person

My friend Jackie is really impressed with the service provided by "a young chap" at Changi Airport. His name is Oscar and he works for a shop that sells IT paraphernalia (called "Sprint Cass Pte Ltd) at Terminal 2.

Jackie wrote: "On 25 March, I was browsing around and I wasn't planning to buy anything. But I did share a frustration I had which was that the protection screen on my iPhone was a mess as I didn't know how to do it well. He asked to take a look.

"He then proceeded to rectify it but it was just very challenging. He still couldnt get it perfectly done and I think he felt bad. He then said he would check if he has a spare protection screen.

"He found one in his drawer and this time, he did it so well. He didn't charge me for anything. I wasn't looking to buy another as I have a spare one at home.

"I was very impressed with his free and patient service and thanked him profusely. I still didn't feel that was enough and ended up buying a "bluetooth wireless mouse" from Oscar. He was an exceptional sales person."

Oscar certainly deserves a BOUQUET -- and an Oscar -- for knowing how to provide excellent service.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Henry the hero in accident claim

Ship broker Henry Phua, 61, is certainly not a person who will take things lying down, especially when he has been wronged.

It was reported in The Straits Times today (June 4) that he fought a two-year battle against "what appears to be a fraudulent accident claim".

The report said: "It has taken the dogged determination of Mr Henry Phua, 61, to expose those involved in an attempt to pin the blame for a fender bender on him and to file insurance claims of over $14,000 against him."

Mr Phua was driving along the CTE in August 2007 when a Subaru WRX swerved into his lane and slammed on the brakes. The Subaru was hit on the rear right section as a result.

However, the Subaru driver in his report alleged that Mr Phua had tried to cut into his lane. He said the incident took place on the left lane when it was on the right. He also claimed that he had a witness.

After Mr Phua made a police report to say that the other party had lied, a Primary Dispute Resolution Meeting was held -- one and a half years after the incident. The Subaru driver admitted before a district judge that Mr Phua's version was correct and that he had in fact no witness.

Meanwhile, the police have confirmed that criminal charges will be brought against three men for cheating and giving false information in connection with the case.

Reading the newspaper report today, I was curious about the role played by Mr Phua's insurance company. Nowhere did it mention anything about what the insurer had done for him to help him fight the long-drawn case.

What came across vividly was the relentless and solo effort Mr Phua had put in to clear his name.

One paragraph in the report struck me: "With the criminal case pending against the WRX driver, Mr Phua has since won back his 50 per cent no-claims discount." This means that Mr Phua's insurer had prematurely removed his no-claims discount even before the police had finally decided who was in the wrong.

As a service provider, surely the insurance company should have at least given its client the benefit of the doubt first instead of jumping to conclusion.

It may be the practice of insurers to chop the no-claims discount once a claim has been made but that is definitely not fair to the policy-holder as the case is still under dispute.

I hope the insurance commissioner would take notice of this apparent injustice and move quickly to correct it. I have no confidence that our insurers would take it upon themselves to do the right thing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Service suspended at SilkAir's Internet check-in counter in Penang

This picture shows SilkAir's Internet check-in counter at Penang international airport on Sunday afternoon(May 30). It was closed while passengers were being checked in at both the Economy and Business class counters for flight MI 355.

I wonder what was the point of asking us to check-in through the Internet when there was no one at this airport counter to clear such passengers.

Fortunately for my travelling companions, we had with us a Solitaire member and he managed to get all nine of us checked in together with him at the Business class counter.

SilkAir does not seem to understand that Internet check-in is only good if it can be done seamlessly!!! Hope it is not going the way of the budget airlines.

SilkAir's unfulfilled seat request

I am puzzled as to how Silkair assigns seats to its passengers who make specific requests for either aisle or window seats through its internet booking system.

I am raising this after a flight to Penang with my wife last Thursday (May 20) to attend a wedding. We had booked our tickets online many months before the event and had requested for an aisle seat for one of us.

We thought that it would not be a problem for the request to be granted as we had made our bookings early.

Guess what? When I went online to check-in a day before departure, I discovered that neither of us was given an aisle seat. I tried to make a change but it was obviously too late as the flight was almost full and all the aisle seats had been taken up.

The conclusion I came to was, either 1) SilkAir internet seat booking system is screwed-up; or 2) it had changed our seats to accommodate someone else, hoping that we would not create a fuss.

Whatever the reason, I hope it would be able to offer a credible explanation. Otherwise I will continue to be sceptical about its booking system.

By the way, this was not the first time that I found "loopholes" in our airline booking system.

About a year ago, I had a different experience with SilkAir's sister airline, SIA, when I was booking our flight for a trip to Japan.

This was the email that I sent to SIA after that experience:
"On Sunday (dec 28)my friends and I went online to book our flight to Tokyo. We wanted to fly Economy on March 26, but we discovered that the morning flight (SQ 12) had been fully booked.

"Thinking that the demand was very good, we decided not to waste time and went on to book the red-eye flight on March 25. Yesterday (dec 29) to our surprise we were told by one of our friends travelling with us that there were seats available on SQ 12.

"When I went online to make the change in booking, what I found inexplicable was the numerous number of seats available on that flight. It was just not possible that so many people had given up their bookings in such a short period of time.

"When I spoke to a member of your staff today, he told me that the seat availability is all controlled by the airport seat planner. I told him that it would be totally unfair and inconvenient to us if our friend had not told us about the sudden availability of seats on SQ12. I don't how you do your seat planning, but from my experience I think it lacks credibility."

I am sure many of you reading this would have your own
stories to share. A friend told me that a couple of months ago, while he was returning home from a business trip to Penang, he turned up at the airport with a confirmed SilkAir business class ticket and was told that there was no seat for him.

What I would like to see from our national airline and its sister SilkAir is greater transparency when it comes to the booking of flights and airline seats. It should not hide under a veil of technical jargons that we lay people do not understand.

Another thing: Why can't seat selection for SilkAir be allowed upon booking of our tickets, like how it is done with SIA, and not have us wait until 48 hours before departure time?