Wednesday, December 16, 2009

UK writes off cheque by 2018.

Just read this on yahoo news. UK states they will write off cheques by 2018.

Granted, its fine if they want to write off cheques by 2018. But that's for their own country.

When I was in Australia, I barely even used the stack of HSBC cheques that I had... as it costs AUD1 to just even bank-in the cheque.Imagine if I wrote ten cheques, that'll be AUD10!

That's -- daylight robbery!. Not only do most of Aussie banks already charge a monthly fee, they charge "cheque processing fee".... >.<

Nonetheless, cheques are still well & alive in the Malaysia in day-to-day business. Malaysian businesses can't survive without the cheque-- as inter-bank transfers cost a bomb (RM2 per transaction) each, whereas it's free in Australia.

Hmmm..

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The case of the Merchant Foul.

I had the experience of a participating merchant, whom we shall name as Merchant Foul, this round who tried to "play foul" in the exhibition.


The History: In the previous exhibition that this merchant joined us with, they were given a "free" booth, or in other words, "space" to place their ware which they need not had to pay a premium for.

A month before the next exhibition due, a staff from their team called my office enquiring if the booth next to theirs was still vacant. I informed them that it was still vacant. But she did not press me for further details thereafter.

The Scenario:
The day of the exhibition came. Lo and behold, I get a call from the same merchant with the query that "why had the booth next to theirs cordoned off when I had told them it was vacant" a month ago?

I was surprised she had the gall to even ask me that.

Then it came to the Organiser's attention that this particular merchant had designed a booth which occupied the area equivalent for three booths!


Rationale:
Let me ask you, would you create the design for a booth for the size of three booths when you had only paid the rent for two? Then you as the customer came in hoping that the Organiser would give the extra booth (beside yours) to you for free?

Indeed, it is the perogative of the Organiser to not charge a merchant- that is in the event that there are no takers. In fact, this particular merchant had one "flaw" in their argument. If they had known that the booth next to theirs was vacant, they should have informed the Organiser that they wanted it.


Their Bullets: 
On the same evening of the setup days, a few representatives from their side came to the Organiser's booth and tried to bamboozle us to give up the booth beside theirs to them. They even tried to maneuver the Organiser into allowing them to move their ware into the thoroughfare, but that would mean a compromise of the public safety which would not be tolerated. !

We promptly told them off. 


The next morning, their Lady Manager came to us again. We told them off. The Lady Manager walked off in a huff with her tail between her legs.

Conclusion: The merchant next to theirs refused to budge. Merchant Foul had to pay for the rent of the booth on the other side of the same area.

I hope they learn their lesson well. !

The Occupational Health & Safety Concerns of Exhibitions

In any venue that has public access, many details need to be looked at as it concerns the safety of the public.

1) Security of the Venue where exhibition will take place
- Gates to be locked at night to adjoining exits and entrances. They can only be opened during joint openings.
- Valuable items are to be kept away.
- Participating exhibitors at no time are allowed to have access to the venue's security CCTV recording, unless permission is granted by the venue's security in the event that security has been compromised.
- Participating merchants should immediately inform the Organiser, who in turn will immediately inform the Venue owner in case of suspect of any incidents.

2) Common area cleaning:
- Cleaning Fees are chargeable for all Hall areas throughout the days of the exhibitions based on number of staff required.

3) Cargo lift operator and furniture setting up:

- Individuals required for per setting up type.

Number of Co-ordination meetings required prior to due Exhibition time: 

4) Licensing & Permission from the relevant Authorities
- DBKL Floor licence, DBKL- (License granted by the City Hall that states the exhibition is 'legal')

- Floor plan of venue shows primary, exit and emergency exits. In other words, floor plan of venue must adhere to fire escape routes as safe in the event of an emergency. 
- Show welcome arch, AV Console equipment
- Going through every booth for the possibility of merchants placing gas tanks (that could compromise public safety)
- That all Lamp Post buntings needs DBKL (City Hall) licensing authority code.
- The number of A&P 'equipment" as allowed by the venue's management around the venue's location.

5) Handover & Take Back of Venue:
- Is a joint inspection between 3 parties- the management of the Venue, the Organiser, and the Contractor. 
- Check lists & records of initial venue condition
- Photos taken as record of venue condition.

Other areas include:
- Floor Loading, Floor protection, Carpeted area guidelines.
- Passes for individual participating staff entry.

The Technical How-To of Managing An Exhibition

The last weekend has been a hectic one for me. The company that I work for had their second partnership with an international bank. Here are some details that one will need to know to ensure that an exhibition runs well.

Pre-Exhibition Measures for the day:
- Provide a limited refreshments to the exhibitor- as an 'emotional assurance' that the organiser is looking after the participants.
- Security and Organiser has early-day-walk to ensure that safety of merchants ware have not been compromised.
- Security and Organiser have walk to ensure that all walkways are clear and safe for the public to access to. All cables and wires are neatly in place in main thorooughfare to avoid the public from falling over or injury themselves.
- To ensure that only participating merchants, and organiser has access to the exhibition venue before the show. Individuals without the proper authority to come in (i.e. exhibition name tags) is not to be allowed in at any time as this will compromise the safety of all parties involved.

During The Exhibition:

Three aspects of the technical aspect had to be looked at to ensure that the telecommunications and network lines run smoothly.

1) Payment terminals run smoothly- Merchants need to have staff who are able to operate credit card terminals. This includes pre-exhibition training to ensure time is not wasted during the sale process.

2) Electricity supply does not short circuit- An electricity trip is the result of overload usage, especially by merchants that decide to run electrical appliances.

It is also the worst thing to happen in the midst of a credit card transaction, as it could result in the loss of "sale" as well.

3) Phone lines are working- In the event that the bank is unable to provide a "wireless" terminal, phone lines are necessary. Further, wireless credit card terminals are limited in the application & functionality.

Phone lines which are "offline" will cause the credit card terminals to not work. Hence it could occur in the loss of a "sale".

From here, it could be seen that three aspects- telecommunication cables and electricity supply, as well as trained staff is required to operate the credit card terminals.

4) Technical Support- Another overlooked aspect is that the bank should provide adequate staff in the case of technical support for the usage of the credit card terminals.

Usage of credit card terminals includes functions of
- checking reward points amount,
- knowledge of keying card to redeem points for purchases,
- doing the daily transaction summary for the day.

5) Network support for technical failures-
- the speed of support in the event of electricity trip
- the speed of support in the event of credit card in-accessability.

6) Methods of illiciting sales & transactions by participating merchants
- to ensure that all merchants play fair, by ensuring that they do not utilize audiovisual equipment that will cause economic damage to another merchant, or cause another merchant to complain.
- to ensure that all merchants have 'open line of access' to the organiser in the event of a 'foul play" by other participating merchants.
- to ensure that security and organiser take strict action against merchants who violate rules & regulations.
- in the midst of the crowd & sales, there will be "illegal" merchants- who will try to come in and sell their ware "unannounced", and without going through the proper channels. This will not only compromise the safety of the public, but also the economic output of the "legal" merchants in the exhibition concerned. In this situation, the venue security will be summoned to remove these individuals.

7) Safety of public is not to be compromised.
- All buntings or ware displayed does not compromise the safety of the public, i.e helium balloons, & thoroughfare is to be always clear.

End of the Day Measures:
- Security & staff to take the end-of-the-day walk to ensure that all things are kept.
- 'Loose ends to be tied'- hanging cables (if ever any), and other details.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Pavillion: Mastercard Malaysia Airlines GWP Promotion.



As per this entry, this is the information as provided from Pavilion for their current Mastercard-Malaysia Airlines Promotion.

*All Items Are Available Whilst Stocks Last!

1st tier: For RM500 purchases.

L’Occitane – Aromachologie range
5 items in box:
  • Milk Extra Gentle Soap – 50grms
  • Body Lotion - 35ml
  • Shower Gel - 35ml
  • Conditioner - 35ml
  • Shampoo - 35ml
Kiehl’s-  2 items in box
  • Amino Acid Shampoo – 65ml
  • Deluxe Hand & Body Lotion - 65ml
2nd tier- Purchases above RM1000

Crabtree & Evelyn
5 variety to choose from
  • Summer hill
  • Lavender
  • Gardeners
  • La Source
  • Rose Water
Each pack contains 3 x 25ml tube of hand therapy lotion. (I am not sure if this means 3 x different variety, or all the same type though)


For more detailed & updated news on the above promotion, please call Pavillion KL: General Line/ Concierge Services enquiries: +603- 2118 8833.

It was not my intention to write this entry. However, for the service of my beloved skincare lovers and shopaholic readers, who have shown interest in the GWP, I have put this up.

Having to choose between the blogs, I decided this entry best fit here as continuity of the Debit Mastercard saga. ^^

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Follow Up: Royale Christmas@ Pavillion KL Mastercard Debit Incident.


Pavillion Brochure- inside of card brochure 1


Inside of Card Brochure 2

This is an update of this entry that I made of my incident recently at the Pavillon KL.

This afternoon, at about 13:30 hours, I made hardcopies of all related electronic publications & communications that I had initiated & published. Then via fax, I forwarded the copies to the Marketing Department of Pavillon KL.

Around 17:45 hours, I received a call from their Concierge Manager. He proceeded to inform me
  • that he had contacted Mastercard.
  • he was informed that the usage of the Mastercard Debit is valid under the Mastercard Worldwide umbrella. 
  • He didn't mention the other Mastercard types though. (so, what does that mean then?)
  • He later said that is encompasses all Mastercard range. I sure hope so!
  • He reserved the 'instant free gift' for me. 
Other news include: 
  • For the Mastercard- Malaysia Airlines Promotion:  Three options to choose the 'instant free gift'- for Tier 1 from: (purchases of RM500) - Loccitane gift set, Kiehl's gift set, or 2 mugs for Mastercard users. I chose the Kiehl's set. (I know this is good news for all the beauty skincare users who frequent these blogs!)
  • The Tier 2 promotion is for purchases RM1000 and above. No idea what the instant gifts are though. I was told that the Tier 2 instant gifts had 4 range of products from Crabtree & Evelyn....  
  • I was also told at the counter that receipts & spending for the Mastercard promotion above is accumulative, but must be on the same card within the same day. Which means, two persons can accumulate their spending, and share the instant free gift. The redemption is limited to one per customer per day.
  • If I remember rightly too, the promotion is not extended to purchases from Parkson Pavillion, & possibly Tangs, but ONLY individual outlets, and includes both retail & dining establishments. This is possibly due to the RM10 voucher giveaway with RM100 purchase at Parkson Pavillion.
For more information on the promotions above, please call Pavillion KL: General Line/ Concierge Services enquiries: +603- 2118 8833.


I will update this post as when more news is received.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Royale Christmas @ Pavillion KL: Mastercard Debit Not Accepted.

I feel marginalized. and upset.

Let me tell you what happened today.

Can you see the part "Card Type: Mastercard" there?

The promotion that goes in Pavillion printed in their Royale Christmas@Pavillion KL is as follows: 
"Get an instant free gift with RM500 charged to any Mastercard Worldwide" .

The Instant Free Gift? A Loccitane or Kiehl's Gift Set, which in retail price, is  worth more than RM130, given to any "Mastercard Worldwide" holders with the purchase of RM500. 

Today I had made a payment in full, amounting to more than RM500 (RM770) purchase at one of the swanky ladies salon at Seventh Heaven in Pavillion. Yet, I was informed that because it was a Mastercard Debit, I was not entitled to the instant free gift.


Pavillion Brochure-inside of card brochure 1


Pavillion Card- inside of brochure 2


Pavillion outside brochure 3

It is stated on the first brochure (Pavillion Brochure 1) "Get an instant free gift with RM500 charged to any Mastercard Worldwide". As far as the general public is concerned, we are led to believe that Mastercard Worldwide consists of ALL Credit-cards, Debit, Prepaid and Electronic cards under the Mastercard brand.

Here are some questions that I realised: 
  • The brochure DID NOT state which card, country, card type but just "any Mastercard Worldwide".
  • So, does that mean Mastercard Debit does not fall under the "Mastercard Worldwide" umbrella?
  • Does that also mean Mastercard Debit users are not Mastercard users?
When I approached the personnel manning Mastercard- Malaysia Airlines counter in Pavillion Ground Floor, they informed me that this promotion was only provided to Mastercard Credit-Card type users.

From here, it can be seen that the Management from Mastercard is clearly misrepresenting their brand.If Mastercard's Management has no intention of rewarding other card type users, they should have stated clearly in the brochure, and added a disclaimer, as this brochure is given to the general public.

I demand an answer from Mastercard. and Pavillion. It is not a small amount that I have spent, and as a customer, I would have thought that the Mastercard in Malaysia would be honest in its advertising.

Why has the Management from Pavillion allowed the brand Mastercard to provide such misleading information in their brochure, and not treat their customers right?

This misrepresentation causes me to think that the Management of Mastercard has the intention of misleading other Mastercard card type users with no intention of honouring their promotion. Don't you agree so?

If this is the way the misleading advertising has been done, both parties (Mastercard & Pavilion) had better provide some good explanation for us.

This has been a really unsavory experience, and definitely does not feel like a very "Royale Christmas @ Pavillion KL" at all!

Follow Up Entry: The Concierge Manager Called. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Debit Mastercard: Better Than Cash?


(Don't you think these cards just look enticing to make you go out and shop further?)

It was not too long ago in Malaysia that Visa had a huge marketing campaign promoting the usage of Visa Debit cards...

But with Visa in the money-making game, it is a given that Mastercard will not want to lose out in getting a part of the lucrative pie which is "money". Even Debit Mastercard would not be able to escape the money driven race.

Granted, I am quite happy to know that Maybank has a version of the Debit Mastercard.

Though, I have yet to convert my yellow ATM e-debit Maybankard to either Visa, or Mastercard Debit. That makes almost all my cards coming completely from one bank, except for the one Citibank Debit Visa that I have.

I would agree with the "no more ATM queues and no more hassle with everyday purchases, no more losing track of your expenditure. ".

However, I really disagree with the tagline "Better Than Cash". They should not be allowed to trademark it.

When one does not possess a Credit Card, other people (who are in the money-making business) would not be able to tempt us to buy items based on a credit facility.

I have been to beauty salons carrying just cash, and a single debit card, knowing that no matter what does sales people do or say, they can't make me buy anything I do not want.

Indeed the credit card is a "credit facility" used when we are tempted to pay for an item we desire based on the "buy now, pay later" philosophy. Spending our future money.

How could Debit Mastercard be better than cash?

Merchants utilize the EPP (Easy Payment Plan) to make paying for a product or services look attractive. Perhaps "that" is the "enticing bait". Preferably, though so, I must admit that the credit card is a useful credit facility, as it provides 30 up to 55 days interest free loan, and when we pay before it is due.

I would use a credit card to buy goods with high-risk factor. (i.e a company retailing a product that may go bankrupt, buying from online malls, E-Bay, and airline tickets).

Utilized wisely, I would be able to buy that nice facial treatment package from Sothys or Clarins amounting to RM600 in two instalments. Hopefully by the time the second instalment comes around, I'd have enough money to pay for it...

But cash is good when I am thinking of getting goods with a Heavy Cash Discount. Yes, everything is negotiable when the price is high, and the payment method used is Hard Cold Cash.

I really love it.

Entry dated: 7th Nov 09

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Citibank: Hilton PJ Paya Serai Buffet Dinner Promotion.


Paya Serai Hilton PJ

Today I was at Hilton PJ for a Buffet Dinner with staff from my mother's work place. It seems that this restaurant, Paya Serai has a special promotion for all its Citibank card holders.

The terms & conditions of the promotion:
  •  Price per paying patron is RM81+ (including 5% GST and 10% service charge).
  • Promotion per paying patron is 1 + 1 (Buy One, Get One Free)
  • Promotion valid till 26th April 2010
  • Promotion valid only for Buffet Dinner (Sunday & Monday nights only)
  • Promotion valid to all Citibank cardmembers (Credit Card & Visa Debit)
Yes, this is a special for all Citibank cardmembers, including Citibank Visa Debit cardmembers. I really appreciate the fact that Citibank is taking it all out to include the non-credit cardmembers in the promotion as well.

How Was The Food?

The food was fairly serviceable. I can't say much about the food as I already had eaten earlier at Secret Recipe (chicken stew, chocolate cheesecake, flat white coffee, and garden salad) with one of my clients earlier, and could not stomach much of the buffet..

The galore of food available was from local cuisine (chinese, indian, malay), international cuisine like western garden salads, cream soups, cheese & crackers, pasta, and the normal dessert fare of kueh & fruits. I had an order of watermelon juice (which seemed to be freshly squeezed from what I could see), but did not check to see if it was included in the buffet range available.

Nonetheless, the attendees who went seemed fairly happy with the galore of food provided. For a 1+1 promotion, its is fairly satisfactory value for money, and seems brighter & cleaner than the so-called upclass Japanese buffet by Jogoya Starhill.  

Location: Hilton Petaling Jaya,
No 2 Jalan Barat, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia 46200
Tel: 60-3-7955-9122
Fax: 60-3-7955-3909

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Australia: Introducing Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard



When my friend Elena was in Kuala Lumpur early this year, we had gone shopping to Mid Valley Megamall. She mostly shopped for items which were not as easily accessible to in Australia.

Elena had brought along this card, called the Wizard Clear Advantage Mastercard. She described the card as useful as the card did not charge for overseas foreign transactions (foreign here meaning Malaysia), and conversion was done instantaneously. This was useful on the days when the Australian Dollar was high compared to foreign currencies.

This card is a credit facility provided by GE Finance Australia. Among some of the features of this card are:
  • ZERO Annual Fee
  • 4.99 % P.A for six months on balance transfer from the date of opening.
  • Cash Advance Facility available. 
  • The standard 55 interest fee free days on purchases. 
  • Annual Interest Rate 18.49 %
From what I have read, customers can actually bank in cash into the card via BPAY, and withdraw cash in foreign countries without having to incur interest rates on cash withdrawal. As most may know, cash withdrawals will normally incur huge interest rates and chargeable from the day you start withdrawing.

I seriously think this card is extremely economical and useful. When I was travelling to South Korea and Japan, I had brought along my HSBC Visa Debit and CommSec Mastercard Debit. The HSBC Visa Debit charges a hefty fee for foreign transactions, where-as the CommSec Mastercard Debit charges a sizable conversion rate..

You could guess that I did not really use much of both cards, except for that one time during an emergency when I was already leaving for Japan and had lost of my korean won. I had no alternative but to use the HSBC Visa Debit-- when I looked at the statement a month later, I realised that I was charged about AUD4+ for that one transaction. A hefty fee indeed!

So yeah, to travellers, I'd recommend this card, if only to save on foreign transaction fees, and conversion charges as well. ^^

For more information about this card, click here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sales Strategy: Waiting the Customer Out.

 I have had a number of clients who have been really pushy, and demanding. I am in what is described as the 'rent-space-for-showcase' business. These clients have demanded high discounts, and good allocations from us on the supplier side. Some had even informed me that they were willing to let go of taking part in the showcasing project initially.

As their demands had been what is deemed excessive, I decided to take a step back. Indeed, one would call my way as 'not being pushy'. So much so, I had taken my own sweet time to get back to them. Yet, the places allocated to these guys is pretty much prime spots.

Perhaps, for some, this approach would not work, as there will be other clients who are serious about participation. I discerned that this guys were going for the 'waiting game'. The party that relents
the first will lose. Finally, they called up, and asked how they were supposed to join.

The ball was definitely in my favour. Yes, as you can see, pushy does not work each time.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Malaysia: Introducing Maybank Mastercard Platinum Debit


Just when we thought we had heard the last of the Visa Debit cards, Maybank is now introducing the Maybank Mastercard Platinum Debit.

The joke of the day lies in the fact that Maybank Visa Debit already has a cherry background, and here is Maybank trying to introduce a "Platinum" status card to the Mastercard Debit, where customers have already associated the cherry with the Visa Debit.... man, you guys need to get creative.

All black is better than all cherry.

Click here for more information.

Malaysia: Bankcard/E-Debit System Not Very STABLE!

From my previous experience of using my Maybank Bankcard or e-debit card (as they call it in Malaysia) I have found that a lot of terminals have problem with the system.

THE SCENARIO

I had made a transaction on an EON bank card terminal. The amount swiped was Rm1,000.00. However, the terminal did not print out the receipt, as per the normal. Yet, when I checked on my online banking, I found out that Rm1,000.00 had already been transferred over to card terminal account..

Fortunately, the merchant was kind enough to "reserve" the transaction for me. For the next two weeks thereafter, I was living from hand-to-mouth.. as my bank account had almost zero savings... and had to call the bank up to expedite the refund of my monies.

From discussions with friends who have used the Bankcard/E-Debit feature, it seems that it is an occuring problem amongst the other E-Debit cards as well....

CONCLUSION
In return, I have found that the cards with the VISA or MASTERCARD logos are much more reliable, with less terminal error problems occuring. Although they are not as safe as the E-Debit cards, well...

I now keep the E-Debit cards for the purpose of money withdrawal, and the occasional small amount purchases..

Singapore: Citibank ATMs abound only in shopping malls.

I thought my eyes were about to pop.. at almost every major shopping establishment in Singapore that I went to, I could practically find a Citibank ATM.

As most may know, I currently hold a Citibank Visa Debit card. I applied for this card after being told that the conversion rates for this card is low, and fee-free as well.

As of date, I have yet to find many Citibank ATMs around any of the shopping malls around Kuala Lumpur, and could never withdraw any money since it is considered a foreign card (RM10 chargeable for withdrawals! How crazy is that!).

The only time I have ever used my Citibank Visa Debit around KL is when I had needed to make payments at the counter....

Perhaps Singapore is less strict on foreign banks, but in Malaysia, it is hard to find many Citibank branches around here.. and the nearest one is in Puchong, where I had made a complaint about their service! So the only way I could transfer money to my Citibank savings account was through bank-to-bank transfer, and that costs RM2 per transaction (free in Australia).

It was a pity that I could not find a single Citibank ATM at the Changi International Airport, although there was a humongous annoying big Citibank bunting right in the middle of their departures terminal.


How deceiving that was! I ended up exchanging my Australian dollars (since Australian and Singapore currently have almost similar exchange rate) at the exchange bureau in the airport and at Chinatown (better cash rates), and not using my Citibank Visa Debit card thereafter.

Oh Well.

Australia: Myer One cardholders - More places to earn credit.



I've held a Myer card since my Toowoomba undergraduate days. Yet, I rarely used the card- as I barely did much shopping there. Granted, Myers is to the Aussies, what Isetan is to Malaysians. An upmarket retail establishment.

If I am not wrong, Coles & Myers used to be under one management.. and I used to take out my Coles card to collect the points. It was very much later that I realised that the point conversion was very much higher than what I was used to in Malaysia. It would take such a long time to collect points, that I decided to forgo bringing out the card altogether.

Currently, for a limited time period, Citibank Malaysia has launched a programme offering in exchange to its credit card-members the equivalency of 180 Citibank Reward Points to RM1.00 to be redeemed instantly at specific places.

Getting points as you buy- is a very asian thing, and currently practiced a lot by the Malaysian financial institutions for their credit card-members. It IS very evident in Japan, and South Korea, I realised when I was there. Malaysia and Singapore have yet to even compete on that level!

The Canadian traveller who I met in Gyeongju told me that they even have point-cards in the japanese bar he frequented in Tokyo! But since everything IS expensive in Japan, every yen counts!!

With this, I guess Australian shopping establishments are catching up on that practice now....

If you are a Myer One card holder, click here to find more places to collect those points!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

ING DIRECT Australia: Introducing Orange Everyday.



Originally just offering online banking products and services, ING Direct Australia is fast expanding and growing their services amidst the Global Financial Crisis. It definitely puts other established financial institutions to shame, and a run for their money!

Today, I received the email newsletter from ING DIRECT Australia informing me of their current and latest product, the Orange Everyday Account!

If anyone should know, Australia is notorious for having banks that charge high monthly Transaction and Account-keeping fees that range from AUD6.00. Multiply that by 12 months, thats 12 months x AUD6 = AUD72.00!  Killer Fees indeed!

Up to date, it is difficult at most Australian financial establishments to get an exemption of these fees unless the individual concerned
  • is a "full time student- including international students", 
  • have a "working relationship" with the bank- whereby they have a deposit of a minimum amount- normally exceeding AUD50,000.00
  • or, the bank just does not charge account-keeping fees!
ING Direct describes their newest financial product, Orange Everyday, as a "full fledged transaction account with all the features you expect.."

Its facilities include:
  • No monthly account keeping fees.
  • A Visa Debit card.
  • EFTPOS facilities is available.
  • Free unlimited online transactions- BPAY & Pay Anyone facilities
  • Online bank cheques.
  • Free use of every ATM in Australia when you withdraw AUD200 or more.
  • Cash-Out Bonus (AUD0.50 cents) on EFTPOS of $200 or more.
It's definitely good news that ING Direct Australia is willing to provide fee-free during this time...

at least I do not have crack my head going around looking for more banks that offers such competitive facilities to SAVE on fees! ^^

For more information on this financial product, log on to their website.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Australia: Commonwealth Bank In Pink!

Commonwealth logo in PINK!!

I thought my eyes were playing with me when I saw the Commonwealth Bank logo in Pink...

Yes, we did have here, the towering and majestic Menara KL Tower recently lighting up in PINK for the entire month of October! But I thought that was only limited to Malaysia!


It's good to know that as usual, Australian institutions are showing the same care for womenfolk all over in conjunction with the Breast Cancer Awareness.

G'day on ya, Commonwealth Bank!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Malaysia: Introducing Citibank Visa Debit



We have all heard of Citibank Visa & Mastercard Credit Cards..  *NOW*, Citibank Malaysia has finally released the Statement Brochure for their Visa Debit cards.

What used to be just a normal ATM card, now possess the priviledges of all the Visa benefits.

Citibank Malaysia is giving to all its Visa Debit card users:
  • 8 X Citi Reward Points for Petrol Purchases nationwide
  • 5 X Citi Reward Points for Grocery Purchases nationwide
  • 3 X Citi Reward Points for Utility Bill Payments & Book Purchases nationwide.
For a full list of participating merchants and utilities, please visit citibank.com.my
 Offer is valid from 1st Oct- 31st Dec 2009 unless stated.

*BENEFITS* from the Citibank Visa Debit
  •  1 Citi Rewards Points for RM1 spent on the card for all other purchases.
  • Ability to perform internet, mail and telephone order transactions.
  •  Free Citibank withdrawals at over 13,500 Citibank ATMs worldwide.
  • Evergreen Citi Rewards Points.
  • FREE Sign & Fly Protection.
  • and more to come!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tiger Airways: Flying to Singapore Cheap-Cheap.

After going through the hassle of checking out the different modes of transportation, I finally bought my tickets to Singapore. Tiger Airways is truly cheap, when every other normal cheap airlines could not!

It was even cheaper as I possessed a CommSec Australian issued debit MasterCard. For some reason or another, my RM12 credit/debit card fees were waived because of that! Wow.

RM139 - on a 10 hour one way- Kereta Api Tanah Melayu ride from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
RM90- for a four- five hour one way- bus coach ride from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
RM137- for a return journey on Tiger Airways Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

It beat Air Asia by about RM200. My flights to Singapore return for this busy Raya festive time cost me RM137 (with no luggage) , and only free carry on 7 kgs luggage, taxes and everything included.

You might want to consider it after all. ^^

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And I"m Off To Singapore, Guys!

Hi readers, this is to inform you guys that I'd be away this coming weekend (19th-21st September) to Singapore for 3 Days 2 Nights. Well, that is, should everything go as intended.

With Raya around the corner, it was truly a last minute decision. I was not even sure if we'd be able to even get accomodation, nor transport to head down. But it seems that some ad-hoc trips could be sheer fun for the stress it produces! Heh. What with the Grand Prix F1 that will be on next week, and everything, I thought accomodation would be like looking for a needle in a haystack..

I'll be checking in at a budget accomodation, very near to a MRT (lucky us!), costing a mere SGD58 for a twin-bed sized room.

Along the way, I'll be there to check out their local spending habits, prominent banks and best credit cards.. and try not to break the bank on the credit card (as I've already overspent for this month already!!)

Okay, Ta-Ta!  Enjoy your Raya holidays!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Maybank Sony Credit Card: The Experience

So, how does it feel to possess a Maybank credit card in the past few weeks?

I realised that Maybank gives out Treat Points mostly for credit card usage, and not so much for the Visa Debit Card, which is 1 point for every RM3 spent. As it is so, somehow I have succumbed to what every typical person in malaysia who owns a credit card does. My Visa Debit has since been placed onto the shelf to rust.

Personally, I feel it is safer to use a credit card than a debit card, as consumers can always apply for a CHARGEBACK, but difficult in the case of a debit, or ATM card. Chargeback is the case where consumers may feel that they may not have liked a particular product, or service which they have bought, and decide to forgo it, and hence applies to the bank to reject the purchase/transaction that was made.

Because a Credit Card is basically using the bank's money, and is a loan from the bank's funds, at most times, they are more than willing to reverse the transaction. However, if it is the customer's own money from his savings, or current account, at most times, the bank may still perform the chargeback, however taking a longer period to do so, as it is not really their money.

As my credit card is linked to my account (which I can quickly scan through the amount that I owe the bank), it is easy for me to assign the portion of the amount due so that I would not overspend.

In order to not overspend, I have created psychological barriers that will intentionally present my account as one that is under-funded i.e. transferring it into a Term Deposit account away from harm's reach!

Pyschologically, it serves to deter me from over-spending when I go out.

I hope it works in the long run.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? DO YOU AGREE WITH ME?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Maybank: Paywave Terminal doesn't work.

Have you ever seen one of those yellow Maybank "paywave" terminals? They abound aplenty at most
Carrefour hypermarkets, and many other supermarkets out there.

Today I was at Carrefour Tropicana Mall to do some toiletries shopping. Upon arrival at the check-out counter, I decided to be cheeky, and decided to try using my Maybank SonyCard Visa card at the "Paywave" terminal.

Taking out the card, I decided to "wave" it....

once....

twice...

three times..

The check-out personnel said it sometimes works, it sometimes doesn't work.

How disappointing.

Installing ineffective, pretty useless "paywave" terminals that doesn't work half the time. So I had to pay the card by the normal way. Swipe the SIM into the terminal and SIGN.

*SIGH* What a waste of good money down the drain for prefectly useless "wave" contraptions, Maybank...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Maybank: My "Limited SonyCard"

SonyCard copy

After a week being away from Kuala Lumpur, I finally managed to go to the bank to pick up my newly approved Limited Maybank SonyCard!

Look at how cool it looks?

Anyways, it's only for emergencies. With Finance Charges of up to 1.46%, and Late Payment Charges of 1%, I think it's better to only use it for those times when its necessary, i.e. big amount purchases to be covered by insurance, or when I have limited funds in my savings account. LOL.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Maybank: Limited Version "SonyCard" Application Approved!

Recently, during the Maybank Treats Fair at Mid Valley, I decided to put in an application for credit card. There were a number of credit cards on showcase, so it took me a while to decide which card to apply for.

Finally, the consultant then informed that I could put in an application for a few cards, and the credit card processing department will choose one that I was most qualified for. So, I decided to put in an application for not only the Limited Version "SonyCard", but the American Express Gold Credit Card as well.

After waiting for two days, I received a text message on my mobile informing me that my application for the card was approved!

The card comes with exclusive Sony discounts, extended warranty, sale previews and more. Among its features include:
* Free For Life No Annual Fee.
* Up to 24 months' extended warranty on Sony products
* Built-in Visa Wave feature: just wave and go!
*10X Treat Points when purchasing Sony products at Sony Style, Sony Centre and selected Sony Designated Stores

Anyways, as I had only just started working in Malaysia recently, I was told only to provide
  • A copy of 3 months pay-slip (original).
  • A copy of my job offer from my Employer (original)
  • A photocopy of my university degree (which was certified, in my case).
I was told it would only take 3 hours to receive the text message, but in my case as it was my first application, it took about 2 days. Well, that was an experience!

Since I was away when I received the text message, and had only just returned from Penang, I called the bank, and was informed that they still had the card with them, and would be forwarding the card to my home-branch for collection.

Oh well. Better safe than sorry sometimes. ^^ Can't wait to get my card!

Maybank Visa Debit: Online Shopping Enabled!

When Maybank Visa Debit was introduced to the Malaysian public, the people who used Paypal thought they'd finally have found another card for online shopping...

However, that took about another 12 months before that wish became a viable option..

Finally in the first week of July 2009, Maybank announced that Visa Debit was going online, a week after announcing the online enhancement security for their Credit Cards.

3 Easy Steps to register your Maybankard Visa Debit for online purchase:

Step 1 :
Login to Maybank2u.com and select Maybankard Secure Online Shopping Registration. Select "Utilities" function.

Step 2 :
Complete the enrolment process by entering the following information :

  1. Card Number
  2. MSOS Password
  3. Confirm MSOS Password
  4. PAM (Personal Assurance Message)
  5. Expiry Date
  6. CVV Number
  7. Hint Question
  8. Hint Answer
  9. View screenshot

Step 3 :
Successful registration notification message will appear once registration is successful and complete.

Click here for more details.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Malaysia: Credit Cards Application (Part 1)

At the Maybank Treats Fair recently, their bank recently decided to up the Annum Income for ALL their Maybank cards to RM30,000.00 per year. They were also promoting their American Express Gold Credit Card and Limited Edition Sony Card. Both are Annual Fee-Free!

So I decided to have a look at the banks with their available cards for the new applicant. The information is gathered from the respective banks' websites.

All information is technically "correct" as of date of this entry. Please refer to the respective banks for more information before putting in a credit card application.

HSBC
Classic Cards- Mastercard or Visa
Income Per Annum: RM18,000.00
Annual Fee: RM80
Joining Fee: Waived.

CITIBANK
Choice Credit Card
Income Per Annum: RM18,000.00
Annual Fee: Nil - Subject to 2x transactions a month, otherwise a RM5.00 monthly fee will be charged.

Clear Card
Income Per Annum: RM18,000.00
Annual Fee: RM90.00

Gold Credit Card
Income Per Annum: RM 36,000
Annual Fee: RM195.00

Cash Back Credit Card
Income Per Annum: RM18,000.00
Annual Fee: RM90.00

EON BANK:
For Salary Earner:
Latest Salary Slip OR
Latest EA Form OR BE Form (together with payment receipt if any, to Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri)

For Commission Earner:
Latest 3 months Commission Slip OR Salary Slip
Latest BE Form (together with payment receipt if any, to Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri)

Classic Cards:
Income Per Annum: RM18,000.00
Gold Card:
Income Per Annum: RM30,000.00

Visa Wave' n Go Credit Card:
Classic
Income Per Annum: RM18,000
Gold
Income Per Annum: RM32,000

PUBLIC BANK
Classic Visa/Mastercard
Income Per Annum: RM18,000
Annual Fee: RM75

Gold
Income Per Annum: 25,000.00
Annual Fee: RM150

HONG LEONG
Classic Card
Income Per Annum: RM18,000.00
Annual Fee:

American Express:
Income Per Annum: RM18,000.00
Annual Fee:

American Express Gold
Income Per Annum: RM36,000.00
Annual Fee:

CIMB

(to be continued.....)

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Receipt is Important for Purchases.

Today, I found a great link for customers who want to return objects/gifts/purchases without a receipt, especially those times when it was a gift, or we lost the receipt.

How To Return Anything (Without A Receipt)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Citibank: Visa Debit charges for foreign transactions.

On Sunday (12th July), I sent an enquiry to Citibank online Customer Service, and received a reply yesterday (13th July).

My queries were:
I would like to ask what would be the charges payable for using the Citibank ATM card for transactions made overseas?
Transactions as in:
1) Purchases made in a retail shop, what are the charges payable?
2) Withdrawals overseas from non-Citibank ATM?
3) Withdrawals overseas
And the reverted reply was:

There are no Debit & ATM card specific charges. There is no charges if the withdrawal is made from an overseas Citibank ATM machine. However, RM10.00 will be charged per withdrawal if made via other network (PLUS, NYCE,STAR ). However, we are not able to advise the equivalent amount in RM for withdrawal in foreign currency as the rates used are not Citibank's quoted rates.

Please kindly note that the usage of Citicard for Islamic Banking and Flexihome Loan customers is restricted to Citbank Malaysia only.
That's a VERY good reason to start using Citibank ATM Debit Visa overseas if I won't be charged conversion fees per transaction, or any fees per transaction!

Citibank: Experience at the Puchong Branch.



















I finally received my first ever statement for my Malaysian Citibank Savings Acct. statement! I had read somewhere on the Internet that it was difficult to even apply for a savings account in Citibank. Yes, and almost all of that story is true, at least from my experience.

SERVICE NOT UP TO EXPECTATION.

The person who had served me was a Chinese male in the Puchong branch, in his mid 20s to early 30s. I had gone to Puchong to service a client's company, and as there was a branch there, I decided to head over to open an account of the convenience of the location.

But I was not expecting the kind of service that was to be rendered by the staff, who I shall address as "L". I deposited RM250.00 into my account. It was only after depositing the money, and getting my so-called "bank-in slip", and leaving the outlet that I realised that he didn't even provide me the details of my savings account number.

As for the ATM card, I was not even given any information about when it would arrive or how I would get it. So after a week, I called up the Citibank Helpline to enquire about the ATM card, as I thought it would be normal procedure for banks to send cards to the customer's mailing address. I was then informed by the Helpline phone personnel that I could have the card created "on-the-spot" at any Citibank outlet, or sent by mail.

The person who managed my call, was even more surprised to know that I wasn't given the account number, and ATM card. Then she informed me that there was no directive in the Citibank system to create the ATM card!

It was an atrocious service coming from a service-related industry provider, and especially from an International bank like Citibank. Never had I experienced such atrocious service even when opening a new saving accounts at my local Maybank branch.

FOLLOW-UP TO GRIEVANCE PROCESS

Furious, I then forwarded a lengthy e-mail to the Customer Service Dept., of which response time took about 5 days. The Customer Representative waived the Courier fees for my ATM card, but the Processing Fee could not be waived, which was RM8.

I was quite happy, mostly because I did not have to take time off just to return to the Puchong branch to have my card created. To do that, I'd have to get someone to drive me (or borrow someone's car) and take time off during lunch hours for that very purpose.

A few days later, I received in the mail, a Customer Service feedback form which I promptly filled in and sent it off again.

REFLECTION

I'm just happy to not have to waste my time to go all the way to the bank. I had written the letter out of disatissfaction, but happy out of the knowledge that I was not just one who complained but did not do anything about it.

Yes, and also the knowledge that another staff at the Customer Service of an international bank learns the importance of good relationship manners. Which I hope he does know by now what that entails if he performs poorly!

Taxes for Adsense Payments: Malaysia or Australia?

I just realised that I will have to pay taxes for adsense payments.

The only question is, "what is the amount?", as a search through the Internet has not provided much information on how to pay taxes on this.

As for declaring it as income, it is a question of whether to declare it to the Australian ATO, or Malaysian Income Taxes, depending on whether payment is to be made through EFT to Australian banks, or by cheque in Malaysia.

Of course, in Australia, the level of taxes to be paid is much higher. As for how much taxes, that really depends how much I can get... Hahaha..

It might take another six months before I can even get a payment for Adsense payment (if I ever get it anyways!), so by that time, Google might have come up with an alternate payment method then.
^^

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Bring Your Own Bento" to Office: Mission Accomplished!

I have now officially passed my 10th day (In translation = 2 weeks) of bringing a bento to office for my mid-day meal.

After about the first five days of bringing a plastic base square food containers, I switched to using the normal typical Malaysian tiffin food carrier.

Why?
1) Convenience- Plastic base food containers require the use of hot water to remove the oil surface from contact with prepared food that has oil properties, whereas oil does not stick to the surface of the metal tiffin carrier. It really is a time waster.
2) Healthier- I don't have to be worried about eating the oil that may stick to the surface of a tiffin carrier, as that would not happen.

One of the male staff had not washed his plastic bowl after his meals with hot water, and just merely washed it with dish detergent. There were ants crawling all over it!

So yes, Mission Accomplished! I have managed to save some money by bringing my own lunch. However, apart from that too, my main purpose was to eat healthily, and I really need to remind myself that I have to consume less rice so as to lose those kilos which is hazardous being carbs for the physical state of my body that is!!!

If you're wondering, a lot of Australians do bring their own lunch to work. Eating out is very expensive, and a meal out (even at the fairly cheap Hungry Jack's/Burger King) could set you down by AUD6- 8. Hence, it's not uncommon to see many people bring lunchboxes to workplaces. Occassionally, they may eat out, but it's not so common to have lunch out like what you may see in Malaysia.

Many of my friends in Australia bring their own lunch to work. We normally cook for about three day's meal in a row, put them in lunch boxes, and then re-heat them for the day that we need to eat it. Saves heaps of money in that manner. It's just a bit less common to see that happening in Malaysia though... since food here is heaps much more cheaper anytime.

Though so, dinner maybe a different story...

Adsense Earnings: Now In Australian Dollars!

Did you know that you can now be paid in Australian Dollars for Adsense Payments?

Well, at least that is the case for me. I was in Australia for the last three years, so in total, I have a Savings Account with

1) Commonwealth Bank (maintenance is AUD6 per month).
2) Commonwealth Securities (where maintainence is Fee-Free & comes with a fee-free ATM & Debit MasterCard)
3) HSBC Bank.(fee free and comes with a fee-free ATM & Debit Visa Card)
4) Heritage Building Society (has the functions almost similar to a bank, and is fee-free as well).

That's FOUR banks in total!

For payment in Australian Currency, the Adsense Payment will be banked in straight away into your account electronically, and it has to be a minimum of AUD150 before payment can be made.

So, I changed all my payment to be transferred to Commonwealth Bank, being that Google has a working relationship with Australian banks to transfer payment immediately. Nonetheless, its still my account, so I am fine with payment with transferred into the account there, since I have the means of an ATM card to withdraw the total AUD150 in Malaysia if I ever needed to. ^^

For the Purpose of Technorati.

b5rjknfwpm

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bento Lunch Challenge: Day 1

I finally got up at 7.30am this morning..

Took 15 mins to warm up the azuki-bean stew we made last night. Another 2 mins to warm up the food in the lunchbox. Then realised I needed to find something to keep the lunch box insulated...

Had to search for a "furoshiki" - bento wrap, as the microwave in the next door office was out of service.. Finally found a cooler bag.. well, anything, as long as it works!

Next had to add sugar to the simmering azuki bean-stew on the pot. It was bland without any taste! Then, drank my Earl Grey tea, and left my morning azuki bean stew to cool down.

It's already almost 9am. Need to get ready to go to office now.

The RM10 Per Day Challenge.

Recently, I have been using too much of my ATM card for frivolous impulse purchases.

As I couldn't trust myself (to not be a Shopoholic), I have resorted to keeping a huge watch on my purchases.

Hence, I have decided to bring "bento lunch" to office for the next 14 days, and see how I cope. As I won't be spending any money on lunch, then in my wallet there shall be a maximum of RM10 at all times. (I average about RM5.50 for economy rice for lunch (with meat). Without meat, it would be about RM3.70).

My "bento lunch" will consist of rice, egg, and some vege. Healthy. But necessary to manage the pounds that I am putting on!

So, RM10 should be adequate for my daily expenses unless there was an emergency purchase, or I had a prior appointment that I had made. In that case I will then "recharge" my wallet to the necessary amount to ensure that I have enough to use for the outing.

Wish Me Luck!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Consumer Protection: Cases of Unscrupulous Home Product Providers.

This blog entry is the continuation of this entry.

All Cases quoted here are taken from:
TTPM (May 2008), "Mudah Murah & Cepat- Claim Your Consumer Rights".

Case 1: COMPUTER EXHIBITION
Mr. Lim and his son David went to a computer exhibition held in the city. David, who is 9 years old is keen on computers. In order to encourage his positive interest, Mr. Lim was planning to buy David a personal computer.

At the exhibition, Mr.Lim was interested in one particular model. However, that particular model was not exhibited and information on the model was only available in leaflets that were distributed.

Mr.Lim made the payment for the particular model and was assured delivery within the next few days. After receiving the computer, Mr.Lim realised that the computer monitor that he was provided with was not the same as the one in the leaflets. Mr. Lim then filed a claim at the nearest office of the Tribunal for Consumer Claims.

AWARD: Mr. Lim was invited by the computer distributors to negotiate and in the end, Mr.LIm formally withdrew his claim by written notice.

Case 2: CAR EXHIBITION
Suri visited a car exhibition and was attracted to a model of our national car. She agreed to purchase the car and paid the deposit. After a week, Suri was contacted by sales representatives of the car dealer and informed that the particular car that she had ordered was out of stock. New stock for the car she had ordered would be of a higher price as the car would have newly added accessories.

Suri refused to purchase the car from the new stock as the difference in price between the old stock and the new stock would be more than RM4,000.00. Suri demanded her deposit be returned as it ahd been failure on the part of the car dealer to provide her with the car she had ordered.

The car dealer refused to return her deposit adn instead told her to look for a replacement buyer to buy the particular car. Suri filed a claim at the Tribunal for Consumer Claims.

AWARD: The dealer agreed to return to Suri the deposit of RM3,000. An award in Form 9 was made.

Case 3: TAILORING A DRESS.
Miss Sara had sent material to be tailored for her wedding reception. When she sent the material, there were 3 employees working at the boutique who took her measurements rather carelessly. When her dress was ready, Ms. Sara found that the dress was not tailored according to her measurements. She returned to the boutique to discuss her dress.

After informing the boutique owner of her problem, Ms. Sara was scolded for not giving enough material for it to be made into a dress. Ms. Sara claims that she was not informed of the problem although she had left her mobile number with them. The boutique onwer gave an excuse that she was too busy and that she did not have an assistant to help her inform Ms. Sara. Ms. Sara claims an amount RM183.00

AWARD: The boutique owner was ordered to pay Ms. Sara RM65.00 and tailoring cost of RM54.00. The total amount is RM119.00

Consumer Protection: (TTPM) Tribunal Tuntutan Pengguna Malaysia.


Early this afternoon, when I out surveying at a home fair in Mid Valley, I chanced upon the TPPM having a booth in the exhibition hall. I thought it would be good to read up on Consumer Rights, so I took their information pamphlet.

The TPPM, otherwise in English, known as Tribunal for Consumer Claims Malaysia, is a body established under Sect.85, Part XII, of the Consumer Protection Act 1999, and falls under the Ministry of Domestic Trade & Consumer Affairs. It came into force on 15th Nov 1999.

The TPPM acts "to provide an alternative for onsumers to claim for any loss suffered in respect of any goods and services purchased in a less cumbersome & speedy manner & at minimal cost". However, the TPPM only assists in cases "where the total amount does not exceed RM25,000.00".

The beauty of the tribunal is that, regardless of whether the transaction was made by cheque, credit card, or debit card, the customer can claim for their payment back. For most people, they prefer paying by credit card, as it would be easier to pursue a "chargeback" process, which allows them to revoke their payment.

However in the past, prior to TTPM's establishment, "all disputes between a consumer and a supplier or manufacturer had to be brought before a civil court which often involves complicated procedures, high costs and is time consuming. These are some of the reasons why consumers are reluctant to pursue their claims against irresponsible and unscrupulous suppliers or manufacturers, especially when the amount claimed is small, even though presently there is in existence the Small Claims Court in every state to ehar claims involving amounts of RM5,000.00 and below".

The types of claims that may be brought by the customer before the Tribunal are cases that arise from:
a) a false claim or misleading conduct, false representation or unfair practice.

b) safety of goods & services.

c) The right against a supplier in connection with any of the guarantees implied by the Act.

d) The right against a supplier in connection with any guarantee implied by the Act in relation to services.

e) The right against a manufacturer in connection with any express guarantee on supply of goods.

f) The right against a manufacturer in connection with any guarantee implied by the Act in respect of any goods.

CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY
"Any person who after 14 days fails to comply with an award made by the Tribunal commits and offence and shall on conviction:

a) be liable to a fine not exceeding 5,000 RM or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or both;

b) in the case of a continuing offence, the offender shall, in addition to the penalties above, be liable to a fine not exceeding 1,000RM for each day or part of a day during which the offence continues after conviction.

RELEVANCE TO THIS BLOG
The reason I have included this post here is that Consumer Protection is a matter that not many consumers in Malaysia are not aware of. I have spent much time (and many hours at that!) to painstakingly write letters to companies when I am not pleased with their merchandise.

The response from their Customer Service, even a well crafted e-mail without the need to go through the Tribunals has been encouraging. What more if it should happen that I were to go through Tribunals. In that note, therefore I encourage all consumers to EXERCISE your rights, and to KNOW your rights.

THE STATE OFFICE ADDRESS
The State Office of the Tribunal for Consumer Claims in Selangor:
Ketua Seksyen
Tribunal Tuntutan Pengguna Malaysia
Lot 03-13, Tingkat 3, Bangunan PKNS,
40622 SHAH ALAM, SELANGOR
Tel: 03-5511.8271 Fax: 03-5511.6981

For more information on lodging complaints for claims, please click on the TTPM website.

REFERENCES
TTPM (May 2008), "Mudah Murah & Cepat- Claim Your Consumer Rights".

RELATED LINKS
(CAP) Consumer Association of Penang
TPPM: Cases of Unscrupulous Home Product Providers.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Visa Debit Customer Chargeback Protection

Recently when I was surfing on the Internet, I came across what was called the "Visa Debit Customer Chargeback Protection" plan for all Visa Debit card users..

Most people are aware that Credit Cards provide protection to consumers for purchases in the case that
a) the product was not delivered
b) the product delivered was faulty
c) the merchant has gone into administration

However, most are not aware that debit cards also have some protection offered, which too if not the same, but almost similar in the type of protection given in regards to having the payment revoked. In this context, it refers to debit cards that carry the logo of "Visa".

Some of the conditions that fall under this is:
1) The claim must be made 120 days of the transaction .
2) The transaction was signature based (if made on a debit card that allows options for both pin & signature).

Related Links:
Working Lunch (BBC) Visa Debit Card Refunds
Online Merchant Centre: Debit Transactions
PIRG : Debit Cards

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Haircut: A lesson in Customer Service & Selling.

I paid RM30+ 3 (for Loreal branded shampoo) for a haircut today at this salon in the vicinity of Tmn Abadi Indah. I look terrible now, and have to wear a hat for the next seven days!

However, I learnt a lesson in selling & customer service today. No matter how much a person pays for a service, at the end of the day, they want, as customers, to be reassured that they had made the right choice when they made the transaction.

In my opinion, the haircut was terrible.

What aggravated the situation was not the fact that the haircut was terrible. But Fiona Tan, the so-called "hair-stylist" person who cut my hair, after finishing the job, just ignored me and started playing with her handphone.

That really puts off the customer when they are distressed about their appearance, and the "seller" doesn't give any reassurance to help the customer feel at ease. Instead, her colleague had to do the "dirty work" of ensuring that the customer felt better.

So, after coming and searching the internet, I found out that there has been many stories of "Bad Hair-Cuts",and this stylist, Fiona Tan, is just horrible at cutting. I wonder why she was even working there in the first place. I had a good mind to go back to the shop and ask for a refund at this point.

But it was her colleague that appeased me. I am now telling everyone not to go to that salon because the stylist has such a really bad attitude, you better be careful if you get Fiona Tan as your stylist!!

So please, to all sales people (especially those in sales, and in Malaysia) please treat your customers well. They paid for your services. So treat them like humans.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

7th Global Indian Shopping Festival (GISF): An Analysis.

Recently, I surveyed another "expo" at the MVEC (Mid Valley Exhibition Centre). For this round, it was the Indian Global Shopping Festival, which has MATRADE support (in other words, governmental financial support & subsidy). All three halls were taken, and in the Atrium, a make-shift platform constructed, with rows of chairs laid for the audience for this very purpose.

Hall 1- The hall of focus comprising entirely India participants.
It showcased many of the participants who came direct from India, with ware such as

  • knitwear
  • bangles & accessories
  • indian male & females wear (Punjabi suits, sandals, etc).
  • idol structures, and worship equipment
  • indian sweets

Hall 2- Both Indian & local participants, providing lifestyle & aesthetic products

  • a local merchant retailing the premium Indian skincare products- Shahnaz Herbals
  • loads of local merchants selling kacang puteh,
  • among many, a Jesal Sweet House selling Indian sweets (that I had bought some milk sweets- RM6 for 200gm).
  • Wedding & photography package service providers by local merchants: Indian sales personnel dressed up in indian formal wear to target the Indian crowd. There was surprisingly even a chinese provider- with chinese models in their albums…!
  • Bizzy Body, a local lifestyle & beauty service provider.
  • Henna tattooing services
  • Chiill Reflexollogy- a local body message services.
  • Grolier- educational & encyclopedias serviced by a local merchant, with Indian sales personnel targeting the many parents and families with young children still in school.

Hall 3- Many local participants, providing lifestyle & aesthetic skincare products.
Among the local merchants being,

  • Shake House (utilizing Herbalife products);
  • D’Care, & G’Wellness (herbal supplements for regulating & control of diabetes; detoxifying & metabolism- an MLM health supplement company)
  • The Cambridge Diet (Neucor)
  • Femme Nutri Soup for ladies problems

Market Analysis:
According to my manager, the expo formerly had more participants from India, but due to the current economic recession, the expo may have had difficulties recruiting as many as previously, and may have had to rely on recruitment of local participants.

That said, evidence was shown through the recruitment of some chinese merchants demonstrating the use of chinese cookware in malay language, which barely drew any attention from the Indian crowd.

Price & Target Audience:
Price-wise, the participants would have of high probability had enrolled as there was governmental financial support & subsidy to participate in the show. MATRADE was subsidising 50% of eligible activities, including participation fee paid to the organiser, cost of promotional materials, advertising cost in Show Directory, airfare & accomodation for out-of-town participants.

Published rates (before subsidy) to participate in the expo started from 6,000- 9,000.00 RM depending on booth location & number of booths taken.

Sales Output:
However, in terms of quality purchases, it might be less than desired as there were many participants retailing products of the same nature, creating a price competition. This includes too the factors that although the socio-economic status of the target audience, being the Indians, is rising, many of them who come from the out-of-town areas, and even in the city itself, still many not have the purchasing power as the Indian merchants may desire.

However, if made on the basis that transactions are made in Ringgit will be converted to Rupee, there might be enough to break-even as the cost of participating (which is highly subsidised by MATRADE) was affordable, considering it was over the span of 10 days.

For the international India participants who maybe there for the purpose of utilizing it as a trade show in the intent of soliciting local distributors and creating awareness & publicity for their products, it would be solely for that reason. Good sales, and enquiries of their ware will be a good indicator to the merchants of the kind of merchandise which may draw a good response from among the Malaysian-born-Indian crowd.

Related Links:
Official Website: Global Indian Shopping Festival (GISF)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Other Exhibitions: Surveying & Soliciting Leads

For the last two days, I had made my way to a beauty expo held at KLCC to survey the market. Actually, it's my second day in a row to the Expo. Both times, it was a rushed job, as my staff & I barely had much hours to roam around the place.

On Monday, I headed with my staff to check out the place. The traffic wasn't that bad in Kuala Lumpur during that time (about 3.30pm ish), and I had dragged a friend, Asta along too as well. We managed to procure ourselves some Ayuverdic body skincare products, managed by a Chinese.

One Tuesday, I went with my cousin, Jane to the show. It was not initially in our books to head to the show, but as there were some products on showcase essential to a woman's youthfulness and upkeep, my cousin was all for it. She is about five years my senior, and has about 10 years of salesmanship experience under her belt. So of course, this was pretty much her forte. >.<

Since I was the person managing a new area of interest for our exhibition, and had to solicit new leads, you can imagine the difficulty of the situation for the freshman that I was. Thankfully, Jane was generous in heaping advice and tips in this area of Marketing & Selling.

Some Understanding & Learning to take away from the survey:
1) Companies that are new in the market, and are looking for dealers make good leads as they need to increase public awareness of their range of products. Their managers are and would be more open to the different avenues where they can create awareness for their merchandise, and hence their decision making process to close would be shorter.

2) Companies with established range of products no longer need an expo to create and raise awareness for their products. A range of products like SKII, Kanebo, etc have established their reputation in the skincare market. It would not be to their best interest to participate in an end-user expo, as this would not complement their reputation, and "devalue the image" of their products.

3) Always bring an ample supply of name cards to Expos. You never know when you may find a prospect lead. However, this can be done discreetly, as not to invoke the attention of the Organiser's staff who may not tolerate a competition's misdeameanor at their expense.

4) When giving the name card to the lead, also too telling them the location of a popular place which has good crowd traffic will surely perk up their interest. As the sales person to, say to the prospect that you will "contact them", and DO get in touch with them!!

5) Foreign companies may not bring much resources with them (meaning, a few products here & there, and some pamphlets, and brochures). However, do not think low of their potential, as should they be able to find a dealer, that will mean up to about half a million Dollars/Ringgit worth of merchandise being imported, as I was informed by my Manager during a discussion.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Malaysia: Hard-sellling Outlet Managers

The Bad Experience I had Today:

Today I had an experience with this Chinese manager, Christine who had replaced the current beauty salon manager of the Outlet that I am currently patronizing. It's the time of the month, where I presume that perhaps the HeadQuarters are pushing their outlet managers to reach their sales quota but this is no excuse for such behaviour from a Salon Manager.

Christine kept insisting that I convert my current service package that I am using to the one she had in mind., which was a "so-called" promotion by their company. Guess how much is that amount?

Amount To Convert:

RM3,000.00! WHAT? Does she think that money grows on trees?

She was hounding me from the second week I started with her (I've only done only 5 days out of the 25 days that I was eligible to). So I've got a total of 20 more days my treament credits to go. Plus two more facial credits.

Christine's Faux Paux:

Christine had the gall to say that whatever in "black & white" that Kelly (the previous manager who is a Chinese) has written for me will be the one that Christine will continue prescribing to me. Whereby, what Kelly had done was, that was for the recording purposes "in black & white" for the HeadQuarters to see, but she as Manager could do as she deemed fit to help me achieve my outcomes.

There are some key areas where she had done wrong whereby,
1) She critisized the past work of past staff when they had not done anything wrong, is just really wrong. It gives a bad impression to clients of her as a Manager.

2) Taking the reassurance out of customers for a past purchase will only deter them from patronizing the service provider in future. It makes them feel that they have made an unwise decision in making that transaction.

3) Not honouring the promises that were given by the previous Outlet Manager. Does that mean that your company's representatives can't deliver its promises?

Further, she stated that in order for "results to show" from the services that I had purchased, I will have to "top-up" on it, so that it will be GUARANTEED. RIGHT.

From previous experience, according to Kelly, she had said that the terms "Guaranteed Assurance" means that the client must be willing to "listen to the beauty consultant's recommendations", in which according to this blog author's translation means:

"to further invest financially" in paying more for "further expensive un-necessary so-called-complementary-merchandise-which-may-or-may-not work". Which could cost the customer a freaking few more Grand in Ringgit Malaysia.

What Christine Should Have Done:

The biblical words of " A House that is Divided Will Not Stand" comes to mind.

1) Christine should have been more FLEXIBLE & "looked further to the BIG PICTURE", by playing along with what Kelly had done, stating that what Kelly had decided was the best option during that time, but they had come up with a better alternative scheme "along the way" to help the customers.

2) She should have taken the path of converting my "unused credits" to more "viable options" that would help me achieve what I had set out to do sooner, rather than "threatening" the client. By doing so, it would have left the client with a more satisfying solution.

As they say, a "satisfied customer" will bring in more leads (which will translate to more sales).

My Best Solution to Manage this Scenario:

I had a good mind to report her to the HeadQuarters. But what did I finally do?

I wanted to see what she will do next. So, I just IGNORED her and told her she can do whatever she wants to do, gave her a nice smile, & walked out of the salon.

In future, I will just ignore her suggestions, since Christine has just lost my trust as a "trustworthy Manager". Yes, and I might drop a word with the HQ after all. I want to see what else the company would do from now.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cash vs Card Charges: Ask for a Discount!

Did you ever know that when we pay by cash at a lot of stores these days, we can negotiate with the merchant to get a further discount?

Many customers do not realise that many of the merchants absorb "inter-change fees" that is charged by the card Issuer Bank for the transactions that is made. The rate charged can be as low as 1.3%, to an exorbitant 2.5% of the amount charged. Rates charged depends on the type of card used, or whether the card is the Issuer Bank's range of cards as well.

According to my understanding, the charges from the bank for using the terminals are:
- monthly charge for terminal used.
- phone line rental charge for terminal.
- Inter-change Fees (per transaction!)
- Discount rate (processing fee per transaction!)
- Address Verification Charge (for mail/telephone order)
- Annual Fee to MasterCard & Visa.

Hence, in reality, we are saving the merchant a lot of transaction fees & charges when we do not use a card. Take that knowledge and ask the merchant for a discount. Most times, the merchant will rather give you an discount when the customer offers to pay in cash than to have to pay the exorbitant fee when the card is used.

We might not get any reward points that way, but the freebies and other services that are probably thrown in will cost more than the reward points any day.

Related Links:
The Independent: What, No Cash Discount?
Blag A Deal: Getting a Discount for Cash.
Blog: Ideal rates & fees:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Debate: Cash vs Credit Card vs Debit Card in Malaysia.

Today I finally made the decision to return all the credit cards belonging to my parents back to them. One is a Gold HSBC Gold, and the other is a Citibank Gold. I will ask them to return it when I head my bottoms back to Australia.... but that is another story.....

The only cards I have to use now is the Maybank Bankcard (Yellow ATM card), and a Maybank Visa Debit Card. However, after the atrocious experience of having someone swiping my Maybank Visa Debit Card, I decided that it was most unwise to place too much money in the latter. Hence, it will be treated more like an emergency "prepaid" card.

Many of the staff handling credit card terminals in Malaysia are really ignorant on safeguarding their customer's interest, for simple things like ensuring that the signature of the card matches the one on the invoice chit. Managers may feel it is time consuming to provide proper training for their staff, nor ensure that their staff are accountable for their dealings.

Fortunately in my case, Maybank decided to absorb the theft and refunded the unauthorized amount swiped from my account. In summary, it is useless to have a chip enabled card Visa/Mastercard Debit card, and all the high flung security features, IF the people handling the terminals do not execute their roles to protect the interest of their customers.

Related Links:
1. Which one? : Debit or Credit
2. Cash or Credit Card Experiment.
3. Using Credit Card to buy a car.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Part 2: Haggling & Negotiation Skills

Woo Hoo... As I would know, negotiations are not my best skills. But as people say, an Experienced salesperson is Experienced because he has been through enough Experiences.

Today, one week after having made a transaction on impulse for a lifestyle package, with my homework and research done on other Lifestyle Aesthetic Provider Enterprises in the past one week, the time came to meet with with my consultant Kelly (KC for short), who manages my lifestyle aesthetic treatments, and is the Manager of the outlet where where I am based at.

The general rule is, to always do your research before making a purchase. However I did the opposite.. hence the rational for the Buyer's Remorse in my situation!!!

I was blessed. God was on my side even when I didn't ask him to. My research led me to find out that the deal I was given was much cheaper than the initial package quoted being,
  • (N.P= Normal Price). Now that I reflect on it, one knows that we should never take the N.P unless some haggling is done.
  • Then there is the (P.P= Promotion Price)- which is what I bought for my initial package.
  • Finally there is the lowest price that I went to, which was much lower than the N.P and P.P, and after much haggling. I should have asked more, but better try next round. :-P
In Malaysia, is of ultimate importance that one MUST haggle & negotiate for a better price. Cultural Practice states it is MANDATORY.

Today in the midst of my treatment, KC proposed another package to me. This time, with my eyes and ears on the alert, I listened to her as she gave her sales pitch of the benefits of this next treatment.

Experience makes us wiser.
And I was.

This time I told her that I'd give it a think over and get back to her.

I believe that KC did not procure the position as the Outlet Manager without having to prove the skills. The Outlet Manager has the responsibility to meet the sales quota, reporting all sales and marketing movements to The Management.

They have to find various ways to persuade customers to sign up for the different packages in hand or to use existing customers to generate leads. Among the practices that could generate leads are
  • Offering benefits and incentives for current customers
  • Ensuring that the packages or merchandise purchased works well in order to generate good word-of-mouth
  • Giving good after-sales service to ensure that the client returns.
  • Offering a fairly priced package to ensure that the client does not feel that they have been over-charged, or at least giving the impression to the client that they have made a wise decision on their part.

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