Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Check Your Bills

I was sitting around wondering about how I managed to rack up such a high Maxis bill, when I had changed my plan from paying for RM150 of airtime I didn't use to RM50 of airtime I didn't use, when I decided to follow my friend Mary's advice and scrutinise the itemised printout (for which I paid RM5 a month, after all) to see where all the extra charges came in.

Hmmm, there was RM50 for changing my SIM card. Except that I hadn't changed my SIM card. Of such "little additions" do the telcos thrive. I called the Maxis customer service number and after negotiating myself through a maze of menus (press 1 for English, press 1 for bill inquiries, if you still have a question hang on the line and our customer service consultant will be with you in a couple of hours) and finally got put through to a human voice.

When I told him of my predicament, adding that I had NOT changed my SIM card anytime within the last four to five months, he said he would check up on it and call me back. And he did apologising for the error (it was theirs) and saying that the RM50 would be credited into my next bill. Unfortunately, they would not be able to give me a refund.

Which sucked out loud, seeing as I had planned to disconnect my bloody postpaid service and get another prepaid starter kit (at least with prepaid, you know what you're paying for - with postpaid, they just tagged on charges upon charges as they pleased) and now I would have to wait a month, till the company had refunded my money. And I am determined to do so.

Not being in the habit of scrutinising my bills I just wonder how much extra I have paid for services I did not use, without knowing it. I am sure billion-dollar telcos like Maxis live off suckers like me.

But just in case you think Maxis is bad, I was having a drink with a friend who uses the DiGi postpaid service, and who, like me, is not in the habit of checking her bills until one day, almost by accident, she noticed they were charging her a large amount for MMSes. This, at a time when her phone did not have the MMS capability. As per SOP, the customer care consultant apologised profusely (our mistake) and rectified the problem.

Are these honest mistakes? Or are these giants deliberately out to cheat us, relying on the fact that like so many careless Malaysians, we will never scrutinise our bills at the end of the month?

Maybe this is how they pay for their huge advertising campaigns and price wars.

If times are as hard as people are determined to make it out to be, I don't think we can afford to keep subsidising these big bad corporations. RM10 here, RM50 there - it all adds up.

Time to start checking our bills.

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