Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Singtel Lite data plan exceeded 2Gb charges extra SGD 10

My Singtel Lite plan with 2Gb data plan was exceeded (at 2.01 Gb) three days before the end of the month. I tried to cap my usage at 2.1G so that I don't overuse it. However, when the monthly bill came, my 2.1039 Gb data usage was charged at SGD 10. It means I am paying SGD10 for 104 Mb of data usage.

I called Singtel Bill Enquiry at 1688 and talked to the person on the line. He said that no matter how much data you used, the first 1Gb block (after the free 2Gb) costs SGD 10. It means that if I used 2.0001 Gb, I still have to pay SGD10 for the 0.1 Mb of data. I was disappointed at Singtel for being unfair to people like me. Instead of charging consumers pro rated for the data used exceeding the free 2Gb, Singtel is forcing consumers to take up a minimal of 1 Gb (data block) once they exceeded the free 2 Gb data. That is how Singtel is making sure that they earn a minimal SGD 10 for each gullible consumer like me that exceeded their free 2Gb and thought that the subsequent data charge is pro rated.

The saying, "Once bitten twice shy" (When something or someone has hurt you once, you tend to avoid that thing or person) applies here. The bad news is it does no good to Singtel, in term of its reputation, customer loyalty, and customer satisfaction. Such distasteful tactic by any business doesn't work for long and will backfire most of the time.

 Anyway, for those who are not very sure how to avoid the excess usage of the free 2Gb, here are several ways you can minimize data usage.

(1) Go to setting and touch data usage.

(2) Under data usage, click on "set mobile data limit" (a popup will appear, just touch ok), then set the data limit that warns user if data usage has exceeded this amount (e.g. 1.8 Gb shown here as orange line). Next, set the data limit in which when data usage reaches that amount, mobile data connection will be disabled (e.g. 2 Gb shown below with red line; to be safe,  set the number to 1.9 Gb). The data usage cycle (can't be seen here) can be set manually to reflect the period when service providers calculate the monthly bill.


(3) When you are either outstation (to avoid higher outstation charges) or at a hotspot/home with Wifi, then you can disable Mobile data under Setting > Data Usage, and uncheck the Mobile Data (as shown here)

(4) When the Mobile Data is unchecked, turn on Wi-Fi. 

When business entity/service provider can't place customer (best) interest at heart, the only way customer can do is protect themselves. We should learn from other customers on how to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of.

There are several other distasteful method Singtel and probably other business entity uses to force unsolicited services onto customers. For example, the "bundled" free SMS services or other unless services that customers have to unsubscribe (after few days of getting the mobile plan) in order to opt out from these "packages". 

Luckily not all services are of such nature in which if the customer doesn't initiate an opt-out request (at certain time), then they (are considered to have agreed to the service offered) and will be billed accordingly. Fortunately, Singapore has sufficient Act to protect consumers. According to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Opt-Out Practices) Regulations 2009, Singtel should give reminder to customers at least 3 days (or 14 days) before the end of the unsolicited service free trials. If a customer felt that he/she is made to pay for unsolicited services and wants a refund, he/she can still do so by contacting the service provider to request for the refund. If the provider failed to satisfy customer's request, the affected customer can get help from Ministry of Trade & Industry Singapore (MTI). For more information, see FAQ for consumers. Consumers can also contact Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) for help. However, for cases pertaining to Lemon Law, it seemed that Lemon Law only applies to tangible products and not services. Having said that, if consumers felt that they have been taken advantage of by service providers, especially in the opt-out practice by business entities, CASE will be able to help.

In my case, I think there isn't much I can do about it. A lesson (costing SGD10) learned is definitely worth it considering that I won't be getting into the same disadvantage.

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