SingTel: “You move into new address, now we harass you for Ah-Long’s $20k”

SingTel is asking me to pay my handphone bill. Only thing is, they transfered over 110 dollars worth of debt from some other account to my account and demand that I pay it. What the hell?

Here’s the background. I started work in May, and received a corporate handphone with a corporate line with a corporate rate of about $14 a month. We would receive the bill at home, pay it and get reimbursed the money by the company with our monthly payslips.

Despite having informed them of a change in address, they sent the first 2 month’s bills to my own place… that had already been demolished. Okay.

The first bill I received was in August: $179.20.

W.T.F. In our line of work, receiving loads and loads of incoming calls is the norm… hence free incoming. There are 80 min free outgoing calls, and I used a total of… 19min. 500 free SMSes, of which I used 28. And that’s what I’d been doing every month.

Refusing to believe that I could spend so much, I took a look at the bill. Aha!

MISCELLANEOUS CHARGES AND CREDITS

Tfr of Acct Bal from A/c [RANDOM NUMBER] to [MY ACCOUNT NUMBER] 117.84
Tft of Acct Bal from A/C [WEIRD NUMBER] to [MY ACCOUNT NUMBER] 0.94

More background history. Apparently the number I took over for 4 months from when I started working for the company until I gave up the phone (with its number) on 1st September had been used by prior employees account a different account number. I’m guessing that the previous deadbeat user hadn’t paid his bills (the account is registered to Company Name) and now they want me to pay.

So I called up the accounts department to inform them of the sad, sad mistake and request for an amended bill to be sent to me before I would pay.

One month later, they rolled over $179.20 and asked me to pay $180.16 (I had terminated the account and its number). So I called them again.

And boy… is calling them a pain in the butt. Not only does it take damn bloody long to reach anyone in question after reaching someone they said, “Hold on, I’ll refer you to someone in accounts.” and you go through the whole damn bloody waiting crap all over again.

Tip: When calling SingTel customer service, you will inevitably be greeted with “Sorry. All our customer service officers are currently busy. Please hold, and we will attend to you shortly.” and then bombarded with repetitive inane advertisements. Here’s what you do. Once you get to “Sorry”, put the phone down (off the hook) and go do other stuff. At off-peak hours (like 3.30pm in the afternoon), only come back after 5min. At peak hours (like lunchtime), come back after 10-15min before waiting like an idiot at the phone.

And despite asking them to sort things out again… this month they send me the fllowing.

Dear Customer

Final Reminder

Outstanding Bill
Account No: [MY ACCOUNT NUMBER]
Outstanding Amount: SGD 180.16
Service No: [MY SERVICE NUMBER]

We wish the inform you that the above amount, being charges for telecommunication services rendered by us, is still outstanding.

We would appreciate your settlement of the bill within seven (7) days from the date of this letter. You can make payment in cash or by cheque at any post office.

So I called them again yesterday. And after waiting waiting waiting they said they would tell the accounts department (again) and call me back. So I gave them my contact number.

And I’m still waiting.

Analysis:

If you think that this is poor SingTel, overworked and cheated by the common man, you’re wrong. What we see here is two principles that SingTel (and possibly the other telcos) put into place.

  1. It takes more effort to go after the actual person than to randomly charge people
  2. Think about it. How many people scrutinise their bill month after month like I do? How many colleagues have just paid the bills, thinking that they must have called too much?

    Do you think they would ask the Company for the actual person who owed the sum of money or just charge it to the next poor sod?

  3. If you make it very difficult to correct things, most people will eventually give up
  4. That’s right. If you can make 70% of people give up and just pay up, you’ve earned back a sum of money and saved on expenditure. Sure, you piss a whole lot of people off, but this is the same principle used by insurance companies and their convoluted, rigid rules for claims.

So anyway, having been a firm SingTel user all my telecommunication life… maybe it’s time to give one of the other telcos a go. Sure, they might be just as bad, but who knows, right?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by sher on November 12, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    omg. I just had a terrible experience with singtel yesterday too. Their service is certainly bad. :s

    Reply

  2. Maybe overloaded. You know, the fact is that people resist change. So instead of trying to attract users from other companies, what they should be doing is focusing on their existing ones.

    Because as long as people are satisfied with their current plan, they are unlikely to change. Customers aren’t won by a telecom company, they’re lost by their competitors.

    Come on SingTel… stop trying to make us give Starhub/M1 a go.

    Reply

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