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Customer Complaints on Malaysian Telcos — Disconnected Foreigner

A couple of days ago, a reader of the blog wrote a rather long comment on a post I wrote about writing to TM’s CEO to restore my Unifi service. The comment detailed out a long horrific story of a foreigner in Malaysia trying to get decent broadband. I felt the story was to compelling to leave in the comments section and requested permission from the author to post it formally on the blog un-edited and in it’s original form, she consented and so here’s a little bed-time reading from a rather unhappy customer of both Maxis and Unifi.

The Tale of  the disconnected foreigner

Dear Malaysian Telcos – namely TM Malaysia and Maxis,

They say never write a letter when you are happy or angry. I was never happy to start with and I am well past angry, I don’t think it matters anymore. So, here goes.

We moved here in August 2010. We used you first, Maxis. We subscribed to your Prepaid Broadband. Although, the connection was up and down, it was reliable and when issues did pop up, customer service was able to resolve it in a flash. At this point, all your customer service associates spoke English and we didn’t have to repeat ourselves like telling a child to eat her green peas. One especially pleasant staff, Mesh, was a gem.

Then on 8th August 2012, you changed. And it was a dramatic change. Overnight, your Prepaid Broadband services stopped working on my laptop and my phone. I had to speak to at least 15 different people on Twitter and phone before the issue was semi resolved at 2300 hours. It worked on my laptop but not on my phone. What really stung about this incident was this, we had relatives arriving from the UK. Last minute flight changes and communications were a nightmare because we were all on the move. With no Internet on our devices we had to make multiple stops to check in on what was happening.

Your customer service was horrendous. The only two people who were able to resolve anything was the tech support staff who called me in my hotel room and your customer service associate, Firdaus on Twitter. Your other staff barely spoke English and at least 3 hung up on me when they realised I couldn’t speak Bahasa that well. But benefit of the doubt, it was a bad connection and not bad customer service. Moving on.

So, it’s just 24 hours of no Internet. What’s the big deal? The big deal, my dear Maxis was this – whatever changes you implemented on this day changed you so much you were never the same again. On my phone, I could no longer use Prepaid Broadband so I had to use Mobile Internet. From August 2012 to December 2012, my credit has been swallowed so many times, I can no longer count. These were not small sums either and ranged between MYR20 to MYR60. Enough to buy my family and I several dinners. Of course, every time this happened, I would kick up a fuss on Twitter and on most occasions Firdaus would swoop in and resolve the issue. I specifically say Firdaus because again, your other staff on Twitter don’t speak and understand English very well either.

They blame the customer as much as they can, and then when they run out fingers to point they give me a case number with no turnaround time and keep me waiting till the cows come home. After all it’s just money that doesn’t belong to them. What’s the rush? What do you do Maxis when a customer doesn’t pay a bill? How long do you wait before terminating the line? And how long do you wait before you threaten legal proceedings?

But I kept using you Maxis. Even when my Mobile Internet usage started counting backwards. Yes, I have the screenshots to prove this. One minute I had 3GB worth of Mobile Internet, then I had none, then I had a bit, then I had none again. It was chaotic. But I figured since you upgrade your services EVERY WEEK on Sundays and Mondays, improvement will come soon. It didn’t. In mid-december, on one morning as I finished work, ALL my credit was swallowed to the point I couldn’t call out or use Safari to log in to my bank account to top up my phone. But of course it’s my fault for connecting phone and bank account. Which silly person in this age and time does this.

That was the last straw. That was when we switched over completely. I went out that very day and I came to you TM. After all, your tagline says, “Trust Us. We know broadband best.” We were excited. Two foreigners on the look out for reliable Internet connection. Finally, we were going to have a stable Internet connection that would let us talk with family back home. Plus, while my husband works in an international hotel chain, I work from home for a publishing house in the UK. Internet connection is much needed for my work.

Alas, we were wrong. You seemed so promising at first. You arrived with TWO ‘technicians’. We paid MYR50 for installation and were told that because we are foreigners, we will have to pay MYR1075 in the first bill. Formalities, nothing more. Of course we would comply. This was on 24th December 2012. Now, less than 18 days later, our modem / connection no longer works. After calling your technical support / customer service, we were told that if it was an external issue there would be no additional fees incurred. If it was an internal issue, we may have to pay more.

My question is this, TM. TWO people came to install your service. Was nothing checked then? Now, you still had the best surprise of all. When I kept repeatedly asking WHY I may have to have to pay more when we are already ‘bound’ to TM with MYR1125, I was told that there is a 14-day warranty period for installations.

So this is what really bothers me, TM. You send two people into our home to set things up for a service that will essentially cost me more than MYR1000 but in less than a month, something conveniently goes wrong and you tell us we may have to pay more?

Both of you (TM and Maxis) spend so much on advertising. Everywhere we go – we see billboards, magazines advertisements, TV advertisements … it really wouldn’t hurt to take all of this money and invest it in improving your products instead of making promises you cannot keep. Give people like Firdaus a bonus, or a raise. For all the backlash people like him get from irate customers, your customer service staff deserve more than what you pay them. Perhaps, you can even invest in English lessons for them?

Which raises another disturbing point. Any small business owner or individual can be taken to court for failing to meet contractual agreements or for pinching someone else’s money (doesn’t matter whether they put it back or not) …. why are you (Maxis and TM) above this? Or are the laws of this country so relaxed to allow big companies to get away with taking their customers’ money?

I’ve read the forums and on Twitter alone there are enough irate customers who complain about disappearing credit. Isn’t this theft? Why is it allowed to keep happening with no legal action or resolution? Then, there’s you TM, less than a month and your service fizzles out. Seems to me like you don’t know broadband at all. Plus, just in case you haven’t realised it, your website has been down for more than 5 hours as I write this. Broadband champion with website trouble, my word.

Both of you cause a lot of disruption to individuals and businesses with your promises for the best service. Who bears the loss of this income? Loss of income or not, your bills still have to be paid, am I correct?

Amidst all the Internet drama that has occurred today, I had to write this. I had to vent and I had to share. So, bravo Digi. You’re the only one that got me connected. I’m still learning how to use you because your data usage is confusing and I don’t get a heads up about when my Internet credit is finishing but hey, you get me connected and you don’t take my money without my permission. You rock.

From an extremely ‘disconnected’ foreigner.

UPDATE on 9th January 2013 / 1400 hours – After two trips to our home, we finally received a new wifi modem. We are not big Internet users. We use our Internet connection daily mostly for Skype, emails and an occasional YouTube video or two.

We received the first modem on 24th December. With Christmas and all else, we only started using our new connection around 28th December.

Less than 2 weeks of usage and we need a new modem? Oh TM. I really don’t know what else to say.

Conclusion

It’s really sad to see such bad service, for the most part I must confess that the service I get from Unifi has been pretty good. With no downtime in over a year now, I’m more than satisfied with my Unifi connection. However, there will always be customer complaints and organizations are bound to mess up every now and then, but to fail to provide proper service over and over again is unacceptable. I’m also unsure why a Rm1000+ deposit is needed just because someone isn’t Malaysian, Unifi charges just Rm150 a month, and mandating more than 6 months deposit is both strange and unbecoming.

Have any more Broadband nightmare stories, contact me via email or the contact form, and let me know.

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: public complaint……somewhere in Kepong. | step on communications

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