Monday, January 31, 2011

Golden Village warns cinema-goers to behave

Cinema-goer Ms Cheah has written to Golden Village to protest against a warning sign that was displayed on the ticket counter at its Jurong Point cinema. She had gone there with a good friend to watch the 6.50 pm show on Saturday.

"When I approached the ticket counter, I noticed an A4-sized notice placed on top of the counter," he wrote. "The sign warns us to be nice to the sales staff and action will be taken against angry customers.

"The definition of good customer service seems to has deteriorated over time. It baffles me how companies are demanding customers to be courteous, nice and patient instead of other way the around.

"While I believe there are isolated cases where customers step beyond the line, it should be dealt with professionally and discreetly on a case-by-case basis. Putting up a sign telling the rest of us how to behave is very insulting to a paying customer.

"Of my 1.5 years patronizing GV Jurong Point, I have came across an exceptionally courteous staff only ONCE. Rude and impatient staff? Countless.

"My advice: Stop insulting your customer and step-up to the challenges of providing good customer service instead of whining and crying to the rest of us."

Sounds like good advice for Golden Village.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New currency notes for Lunar New Year: Why must there be a shortage every time?

Not everyone is as lucky as I was in being able to obtain new currency notes for the Lunar New Year.

One friend who thought she would be able to get her all new notes from Citibank without too much of a problem as she was a privileged customer, was surprised when she discovered that some of those delivered to her were in fact old ones.

The reason given to her by the bank was that there was a shortage of certain notes and that demand had exceeded supply.

Which of course left my friend very exasperated because she felt that it was something that should not happening almost every year at this time.

"Why can't the Board of Commissioners of Currency print more new notes for the New Year when it knows that there is always going to be a demand," she said.

"After all, it is a good family tradition that we would want to uphold and the government should play its part to make sure that there is sufficient supply of those notes every year."

I concur fully with her sentiment. Giving ang pows is a fine Chinese tradition that helps to promote family bonding. Unlike the risky fire crackers that were banned many years ago, surely this family value is one that the government would want our children to imbibe and not see it go up in smoke.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Property loan 'nightmare" after cold call

Choo Hwee Meng wrote to me today to share his property loan "nightmare" story.

He said: "In November 2009 , I was approached through a cold call to refinance my property loan with DBS.

"The agent, after reading my previous loan details with StanChart, convinced me to take up a 3-year fixed loan in February 2010, although my 3-year period was to end in June 2010. I agreed without much thought as I was quite caught up with work then. That was when my "nightmare" started.

"A DBS agent met me subsequently to sign the agreement. However again I did not look into the very important detail of the date. My contract with StandChart was to end only in June.

"It was only when I received a letter from StanChart for the penalty charges that I realised my mistake. I immediately called DBS to change the date of disbursement to June instead of February. (This was in January 2010).

"DBS then deducted $500 from my account without prior informing me (that it was) a penalty for the change in disbursement date. It did not matter that this was five months later. When iI called in to dispute the matter, I was told "a lot of administrative work has gone into this matter".

"To add insult to injury, a few days ago (21 January 2011), I received a letter from DBS telling me that a higher rate will be imposed from February 2011 since the original offer was from February 2010, but the 3-year penalty period will only start from June 2010, the date of dispursement!

"Which means I only enjoy half a year of the promotional rate, but yet (Iam) tied in for 3 years. I now intend to close all my current and saving accounts with DBS and have nothing to do with them after this 3-year period is done.

"Lesson to learn - check the dates carefully and ask plenty of questions before signing any documents, even from reputable banks. "

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lunar New Year wish granted

Unlike in previous years, when my wife was frequently disappointed and frustrated by POSB/DBS Bank in her attempts to get new currency notes and angpow packets for the Lunar New Year, this time around she was successful.

This was because our relationship manager (RM) Desmond was more reliable than the previous ones that we had.

I had called him a week ago to tell him about we wanted. He said since I needed different amounts in various denominations, it was better to send him an email. I did as requested.

Two days ago, he called to tell me to go down to the Ngee Ann City branch today to collect the notes and angpow packets. I am happy to report that everything my wife wanted was nicely bundled when we arrived to collect.

Moral of the story: there are RMs and RMs. It is just your bad luck if you have been assigned an unreliable one.

Thanks, Desmond.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Scam attempt by "The Gmail Team"

If you receive an email from someone purporting to be from "The Gmail Team" and asking you "to confirm if your email is still active by filling out your login details...or your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons", DO NOT respond.

I am certain it is a scam because when I did not respond to its 24-hour warning, back came another email after the deadline had expired, saying:

"Your Account Will Not Be Interrupted After Following The Instructions And Your Service Still Continue As Normal. We Apologize For Any Inconveniences.
Thank You For Using Gmail.
The Gmail Team"

But this was not the first email that I had received from "The Gmail Team". A few weeks ago, I got a similar one which gave me a seven-day deadline to respond. Nothing happened when I did not.

There were two give-aways in "The Gmail Team's" attempted scam.
One, it said that "due to the congestion in our Gmail servers, there would be removal of all unused mail Accounts."

As far as I know, this cannot be true because Gmail's biggest selling point is that users needn't erase their email messages because of its huge capacity. So why should it be talking about congestion in its servers?

Secondly, why should Gmail be asking for login details when all it wanted was to confirm that the account was being used? Surely a simple reply would suffice.

So, do stay alert! Never give away your login details.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Alert -- check your telco bills!

Although it was just a matter of only 60 cents, but Shionge has now realised that she must make it a point to check her monthly telco bill and those of her children.

She discovered earlier this month that her daughter's Singtel bill had two extra items for something that was purportedly subscribed on December 8 and 9 last year.

She says that for her previous bills, she never bothered to check carefully. All she did was to simply remind her daughter not to download anything.

This time, however, she took a closer look at her daughter's bill and found an item " Orange Gum Service". Out of curiosity, she emailed Orange Gum to find out what it was about.

"To my horror, I was told by Orange Gum that it was a system error," she says.

"Although I do appreciate their prompt reply to credit the money back, I am concerned about the number of users who are similarly affected and who do not bother to check their bills.

" It might be a small amount, but how much money is collected by Orange Gum due to this system error?"

Because there are simply too many mobile/music/apps downloads, Shionge says she is sharing this with other users to warn them to check their bills more carefully as one never knows when one is wrongly charged.

By the way, Orange Gum Service is part of Relaxz Mobile, a suite of interactive games, news and other information services delivered through SMS.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Apple acts fast to settle Anne's problem

Anne Wong Holloway's problem with "unintentional purchase" at Apple's Appt Store has been resolved -- soon after she wrote to them and hours after I had posted her story on this blog.

Lavanya of iTunes Store Customer Support wrote to Anne to say that she would be "more than happy" to fix the issue.

She promised that "in three to five business days, a credit of 43.97 USD should be posted to the credit card that appears on the receipt for that purchase."

According to her, the iTunes Store provides a warning message that asks if you are sure that you want to buy an item. This warning can be turned off. If you would like to make sure that this warning is on, you can reset the warnings in the iTunes Store by following the instructions in this article:

Resetting iTunes Store warnings

This is indeed helpful to its customers because Anne says that when
she posted her problem in a Discussions group, she found from the response that there was a significant number of people "bitten" by the App Store bug.

Anne finds "rotten Apple" in App Store

Anne Wong Holloway has a problem with Apple's App Store. She sent me this email:

"I have been a loyal Mac user of several years' standing and have been a Mac 'evangelist'. But my initial experience with the new App Store has left me fuming. As I just emailed Apple:

'I was exploring the new App Store and clicked on some apps. I noticed one called Panorama Sheets had been installed so I dragged it to Trash to uninstal it as it is not the kind of app I have bought or would ever be interested in!

I only clicked on the name to try and see what it was about since the names of the apps only sometimes give one an idea what it does.

Lo and behold I got an iTunes receipt (rec'd January 9, 2011 9:24:57 AM GMT+08:00) just as I was readying to leave Singapore for Hong Kong and I have been billed for Panorama Sheets. And it's not even an inexpensive app (USD$39.99) that I can afford to 'swallow'.

How can I prove I have never used it and will not be using it?

I am so angry. This is such a bad experience with Apple. And I am terribly disappointed that Apple would trick customers into making non-refundable purchases with one inadvertent click.

Amazon and other online retailers enable customers to get their money back if they make a mistake.

If I were back in the USA I would take this matter up with the authorities and consumer associations but I am in Asia for the next few months.'"

Subsequently, out of curiosity, Anne visited the developer Panorama's website and discoverd that it offered a FREE preview. "Why would I buy such a complex app without trying it out for free first?" she said. "Assuming I needed such an app - it's a database in spreadsheet form from the little I have read. What in the world would I need something like that for?"

To me, it looks like a case of a rotten Apple :)