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".

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.

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.

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.

"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.

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 of the Tribunal for Consumer Claims in Selangor:
Ketua Seksyen
Tribunal Tuntutan Pengguna Malaysia
Lot 03-13, Tingkat 3, Bangunan PKNS,
Tel: 03-5511.8271 Fax: 03-5511.6981

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

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

(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)


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