Saturday, October 23, 2010

Starhub: A Singapore style mugging?

A few years ago I went on holiday to Brazil. On the day I arrived three guys came up to me, hit me on the head, knocked me to the ground, hit me on the head again and took my money. It was not a pleasant experience.
Just a few months ago I move to Singapore to live and work. A colleague had a spare local-sim card and he lent it to me. We both agreed to transfer ownership of the sim, but it turned out to be quite a hassle. It couldn’t be done over the phone, online or by post. We had to go to a particular starhub centre and there were none near where we worked in central Singapore. We both had to go together to Dauby Gaut and wait for an hour to get it done.

While I had the sim in my phone I made a conscious decision to strictly limit the use of 3G. Most often I just used wifi, when it was available. When I saw a bill was slightly surpised to see that I had used 0.00877 GB ( just under 9 MB). I’m not exactly certain how that happened. Perhaps I viewed a map that I previously had downloaded but the phone refreshed via the 3G network.
I have frequently seen some starhub advertising that shows the cost of downloading to mobiles is something less than 35 SGD for 12GB. So I think that is might be acceptable to charge slightly more on other packages, may be even 30% extra. But to my amazement, I was charged 88 SGD for my tiny 0.00887 GB. At that rate 1 GB would cost more than 10,000 SGD, or to put it another way, I was charged over 317,000% above the advertised rate.
What’s worse is that my colleague didn’t show me the previous month’s bill, so when I saw it, there was a combined bill of 210 SGD. The best starhub has offered to do so far is to reduce it to 186 SGD.
What do you call it if a firm advertises one rate but charges 317,000% more?
Would it be appropriate to call it a Singapore style mugging?
If it is legal, then I think the law needs to be changed.
I must say I would have preferred if instead starhub had just sent someone to the airport when I arrive to mug me. I would have lost less money that way.

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