Saturday, October 30, 2010

Holland American Line apologises

Holland America Line has finally replied to feedback (Excellent service on Ms Eurodam? Not in our case ) on my travelling group's experience during our New England cruise in September

The email from Ms Hanna Kielczewska, Special Advisor, Office of the President, says:

"Thank you for the email referring us to your web log concerning your ms Eurodam sailing on September 6, 2010. First and foremost, we are sorry for the disappointment you experienced.

Holland America Line acknowledges the significant personal impact felt by a guest who encounters multiple issues, large or small, on their cruise. The majority of our passengers sail without incident, and our satisfaction ratings remain extremely high.

"We endeavor to prevent problems, and try to remedy difficulties as they arise, but occasionally an unfortunate combination of factors causes an individual to be affected by several matters on the same cruise. The main concerns that you addressed were with regard to the embarkation procedure, the shore operations check-in staff, the laundry services, the price of bottled water as well as the onboard management decisions and follow up.

"Rather than respond to each of these points one by one, we would like to assure you that we take guest input very seriously. In light of your correspondence, we have registered all of your complaints against this sailing and have advised the appropriate senior management for their information and corrective action where necessary.

"Furthermore, we sincerely regret that you were dissatisfied with the itinerary on your cruise. Careful planning goes into choosing our cruise ship routes and port calls. We endeavor to offer fascinating destinations around the world so that our travelers may experience a rich diversity of people, places, and cultures.

"Although the port facilities at some locations may not be in the center of the areas of interest, we strive to offer a variety of optional shore excursions to enhance our guests’ experience and maximize their time ashore.

"Also, we periodically revise and update itineraries to appeal to our many repeat travelers, while maintaining numerous long-standing favorites. We do apologize if you feel that the ports of call on this sailing were not completely satisfactory and we hope that your next cruise itinerary will be more to your liking.

"We understand an apology will not erase the frustration you experienced on board; however, we appreciate your efforts in providing us with specific details on how we may improve. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us, as it is through constructive suggestions that we will be able to maintain the high standards toward which we consistently work.

"Staff will certainly redouble their efforts to meet our goal of consistent excellence. We thank you again for taking the time to provide us with your detailed comments. We hope you will give us another opportunity to welcome you on board again in the near future."

I am glad the cruise management took the trouble to reply at length to our complaints. It is a good example of how service providers should respond when they are faced with unhappy customers.

Many will stay it is so much words and that those promises must be seen to be fulfilled. I agree.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another grouse against DBS

My friend Wendy obviously isn't the only one unhappy with DBS for cancelling her Gold Visa card without making it customer-friendly.

The following was what Auntie Lucia wrote about her experience in her blog, Food fuels me to talk...

Credit card nonsense
This post belongs to the “everything must complain” category. I’ve been encouraged to write about my own experience with the sudden notice from DBS Cards to cancel my Gold Visa (among other cards) starting Dec 1, after reading Boo n Bouquet’s version.

I was a bit non-plussed on receiving what seemed like a marketing circular that i almost threw away. Just as well I took a closer look.

The circular advised that “as other DBS/POSB Credit Cards bring you market competitive privileges and benefits”, the bank has taken the unilateral decision to close your ”DBS Affiinity/Charge Gold Visa/Mastercard credit card XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-7066″.

I hold two DBS cards and at first wondered if the bank meant both since one is what I assume is an “affinity” card (being a National University of Singapore Society card) and the other was once an affinity card too (to Raffles Marina, till some where along the way RM broke off its affinity with DBS and the bank without much ado issued me a new gold Visa card).

Then I took heart. Going by the last four digits provided by the circular, only the ID of my gold card ended with 7066.

And shucks, I’ve got a Giro payment for a small health insurance policy that’s been going on for perhaps 20 years linked to it. With the card gone, my policy may laspe and I don’t want that to happen.

I called the bank’s hotline. I waited for ages b4 I got to speak to a customer service officer and after many more minutes of explanation managed to extract a phone number from him, with the helpful tip on where I might find my policy number in my monthly credit card bill.

No, he could not arrange for the Giro charges to be ported over to my other DBS card. No, he couldn’t do anything. I must contact the insurer and make my own arrangements. And to think I had originally signed up for that insurance package because the card issuer made all the arrangements!

More time wasted with the insurers be4 I got the necessary form to instruct the insurer to instruct the bank to deduct.

I’m not the only DBS credit card holder inconvenienced by the bank’s unusual move to delete a whole slate of cards at one stroke.

Perhaps the 7066 cards are cards which are hardly used by their holders.

If so, DBS should have given card holders a choice: use them more often or give them up. And if you give them up, we will help you move your Giro arrangements to other DBS cards you use. We will also help you to consolidate your reward points rather than force you to consume them be4 Dec 1.

That would have been a lot more customer friendly.

But then, when you are Singapore’s biggest bank, who cares about being customer friendly!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Irene pleased with SQ service

Irene Hoe, back from yet another holiday in Europe, is thoroughly pleased with the service from Singapore Airlines.

"Both flights were very pleasant," she said.

"I was in 35C on SQ324. During the night, I had a coughing fit while in the toilet. Almost immediately, there was a knock on the door and a concerned voice asked: "Is everything all right, ma'am? Are you OK?"

"When I emerged several minutes later, the flight attendant was still there, asking if I was unwell and if she could get me anything. "Tea? Some warm water?" she said.

"I didn't really need anything but she was so kind and sounded so concerned that I said yes to the warm water.

"She made me feel so well looked after.

"On SQ 321, I was in 43C. I declined the breakfast as both of the choices contained chicken, to which I am allergic. Immediately, the flight attendant went to check if there was a vegetarian meal I could have.

"She and the male colleague who brought me the meal both asked if I was travelling again soon and took the trouble to explain how to request a special meal. That was nice, especially as it was a full flight and they'd only just started on the meal service.

"I explained that I just usually carry my own food in case I can't get a non-chicken meal, because it's easier and safer that way.

"Ex-Singapore and HK, I believe that some sauces and gravies in "non-chicken" meals may be seasoned with chicken stock or chicken powder as I've sometimes had allergic reactions after a meal on board. Incidentally, it's never happened with meals ex-US or ex-Europe.

"By the way, I have tried ordering a special meal online in the past but have given up on that as I can't see how it is to be accomplished."

Definitely a BOUQUET for SIA.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wendy upset with DBS Bank

My friend Wendy has been a DBS Bank customer for more than 30 years. You can consider her one of the bank's loyal clients.

Soon after she started work, she got for herself the bank's Classic Visa credit card. Later it was changed to a Gold card and she has been using it since.

Last month, the bank sent out a letter to all its customers who have its DBS Affinity/Charge Gold Visa/Mastercard credit cards, informing them of their impending closure.

Its September 28 letter did not give a reason for the closure. It simply said that it will be closing the credit card programme on December 1 and that any supplementary card tagged to the principal card will also be closed.

Wendy was understandably upset because she felt that the bank should have offered her another card as she had been a long-time customer and that was the least it could have done.

Instead, it asked that she apply for another DBS/POSB card that is "most in tune with your lifestyle".

By the way, Wendy is a Treasures customer, so one would have expected the bank to offer her another card without her asking for it.

Instead, she had to call up her relationship manager who subsequently visited her to get her to fill up an application form for a new card. This is really unnecessary "service" which the bank could have easily circumvented.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two servers leave a good feeling

After coming across two excellent service providers in the past few days, I am beginning to think that more of such people are fast realising the importance of good service.

I may be a little optimistic, but I must say I do end up with a good feeling when I get service that is out of the ordinary.

The first to impress was Frank Yeo, sales executive of Audio House in Liang Court shopping centre. My wife and I were there to shop for a new fridge, and he attended to us.

He knew his products and was patient, even though he was pumped with numerous questions about reliability, guarantee, size and usage. He also said the company would charge $50 to carry away our old fridge.

When we got home and confirmed that the fridge was suitable, my wife called him twice to ask him more questions before placing an order. He remained patient and helpful. What was a pleasant surprise was when he said that he would ask the company to waive the $50 fee for taking away the old fridge.

Delivery was prompt and we now have a Samsung fridge that I am confident will not give us as many problems as the American model.

The other person who made my day was a young Nepalese man named Tanka. He works as a supervisor in Chin Huat Seafood Restaurant in Sunset Way, Clementi estate, but he told me that he was also studying part-time to improve himself.

What I liked about Tanka was his easy demeanour, his initiative and his willing to serve. My friend Sunny and I could tell straightaway that he was a true professional. No request was too big a task for him.

Tanka explained to us the value of the set lunch at $11.90++. It included a wonderful starter of smoked duck and wasabi prawn, lovely deserts of black glutinous rice with ice-cream and durian pudding, plus a choice of coffee, Chinese tea or ice lemon tea.

When it came to choosing the main course, he suggested that Sunny and I order Seafood Hokkien noodles and Seafood Horfun, instead of both of us having the latter. That way, he reasoned, we could share and taste two different dishes.

Meal over, he came over to ask us for feedback. Overall, I would give it 9 out of 10 for its quality, value and the service that Tanka provided.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No-Claims Discount: Let's hope authorities will act this time

I am glad to see the issue of No-Claims Discount (NCD) being aired in The Straits Times' Forum.

I wrote about my personal experience on this subject in this blog headlined, "Why must motor insurers have it both ways", on April 1 but, sadly, could not get the authorities to do something about it.

I hope with the issue being raised again this time, some kind of action will be taken.

It is so obvious in this NCD issue that our motor insurers are having their cake and eating it. The queston is, why is our Insurance Commissioner blind to it?

Here is the letter by Tan Kin Lian, former NTUC Income's CEO, published in the Forum Page today (Oct 6):

A fairer contract for motorists
THE General Insurance Association of Singapore's reply on Monday ('GIA's advice to motorists on no-claims discount') noted that motor insurers here offered different variants of the no-claims discount (NCD) protector.

But as a market practice, all motor insurers disallow the transfer of protected NCDs from one insurer to another.

It is unfair for consumers to pay an additional premium for an NCD protector and to suffer a large loading in the premium on making a claim.

It defeats the purpose of purchasing the protector in the first place.

It is unrealistic to expect consumers to be aware of the intricacies of the different NCD protectors offered by insurance companies. Some consumers may be paying the additional premium without any real benefit.

The association should ask its members to have a standard feature in the NCD protector that guarantees the preservation of the full NCD and the waiver of any loading to the premium as the result of one claim.

The cost of the waiver of the loading can be priced into the premium for the protector.

This would be a fairer contract for consumers.

I hope the regulatory body will encourage the association to take this step in the interest of fair dealings with consumers.

Tan Kin Lian "