First, this bank which I had signed up 2 credit cards with, sent me a letter in Dec 2005 to say that I did not need to settle my credit card bill for Dec 2005. 'Wah, ho sei liao,' I thought but my happiness was short-lived. When I perused the letter further, I realised that I could only delay payment till Jan 2005:
Not only that, I would not incur late payment charges but the usual interest rates would apply. My alarm bells started ringing immediately. Being a responsible and creditworthy credit card holder, I always settled my credit card bills fully via Giro payment. Why should I incur extra interest charges (at an exorbitant 13% p.a.) when I didn't need the payment holiday? What kind of promotion was that when I had to pay more for credit which I did not need? Since the letter did mention that I had a choice (see word circled in red above), I immediately called up their hotline. I was assured by the staff who answered my call that customers on Giro would not be affected by this promotion, i.e. they would still be billed normally for Dec 2005. Despite having called the hotline to opt out of this 'promotion', I was therefore very surprised to receive a Jan 2005 bill which reflected extra (interest) charges of $37.28:
I immediately called the hotline again to give the bank
no peace of mind a piece of my mind. The staff on the other end of the line was unapologetic and only said, 'We are aware of this problem. The error will be rectified in your next bill'.
Indeed in Jan 2005, I received a letter from the bank apologising for the glitch:
However to me, the damage had been done. As they say, 'sorry no cure' (especially when it came so late). In fact, this was not the first time that the bank made an error in its dealing with me - a few months ago, the bank deducted my housing loan payment from my savings account instead of from my CPF account which it had been doing regularly. Luckily I checked and called them immediately to rectify the error. Again, the bank said that it was aware of the problem and it had been corrected even before my call. Was that a case of never admitting one's mistake; sorry is the hardest word; just face-saving or all 3-in-1? Then how about those pre-approved credit cards which the banks sent out to creditworthy customers a few years ago? If you did not opt out, then you were automatically considered as 'in'.
In the second incident, my mobile phone service provider recently sent me a bill which reflected an extra charge of $1 by mTouche:
Although $1 is not a lot of money, if that amount is collected from each subscriber, it would have added up to 1 or 2 million dollars, certainly no small beer by any standard. In any case, it is not the amount of money involved but rather the principle behind it that I am questioning.
This incident was widely reported in the media over the past few days. After several irate subscribers wrote to the press, the 3 main mobile service providers had publicly clarified that mTouche had 'incorrectly charged' for a CNY SMS greeting which was intended to be free. They even went as far to say that 'we are neither involved in nor do we control such content providers' operations and/or marketing strategies.'
Incidentally, I now have an explanation on why that company was called 'mTouche'. 'm' probably stands for 'money'. It is in lowercase since it is only $1. 'Touche' is a 'stylish French-sounding' word for 'touch' - the company wants to touch our money even though it can't have it. Hahaha.
So the 3 mobile phone service providers claimed that they just 'innocently' collected the money for mTouche? Never mind that, they would be still be considered as partners in crime even though the money involved would be refunded to all customers affected. Again this was not the first time that the telecommunications service providers committed such an 'oversight'. A few years ago, subscribers complained that they were being charged for a value-added service which they never asked for in the first place. They were billed just because they had not opted out of the service after the free trial period.
For the last incident, a dubious company sent my wife a letter to say that she won a car:
I could not help but felt amused by these details stated in the 'terms and conditions' of the letter:
This program is for married or engaged couples
If you believed all that (minus the strikeouts which are my own of course), then you would probably also
Why do companies have to resort to such underhand tactics to do business? I thought that the economic growth last year has improved to 6.4% and the good business environment should not justify such means? In addition, why is it that whenever such acts are committed by companies, they are always called 'a technical problem' or 'an unintended human error/oversight'? Either that or it's always somebody else's fault and never the companies'. Then, whenever the unethical issue is publicised, an insincere-sounding apology follows and then comes damage control. How many times do these companies want to test our trust, patience and forgiveness before they think that they could be shattered? Come on, if you have made a mistake, be honest about it, admit it, apologise sincerely for it and move on. And very importantly, never repeat the same mistake or a similar one. However, sad to say, this does not seem to be happening anytime soon.