The Power Of SMS

Views – “Smile, you’ve just been scammed”

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on May 3, 2009

The Malaysian Insider

James Chin

MAY 3 – In Malaysia, we accept things here that nobody in the developed world would accept.

We accept them because we are afraid to speak up. From Day One in primary school all the way up to university, we are told to shut up and go along with the powers-that-be.

In fact, when you stop and think for a moment, many things in Malaysia are not what it should be. Private companies here behave like they own the country and can do whatever they like.

Let me just give you a few examples.

How many of you subscribe to Readers’ Digest? I have been a loyal subscriber for at least a decade and I can see how today’s RD is nothing more than an advertisement booklet disguised as a magazine. Care to look at the May 2009 issue? Look at page 88. There are 132 pages (almost equal to the actual magazine, which is only 152 pages) of advertisements disguised as articles about Malaysian brands.

My God, did I pay RD more than a hundred a year to read advertisements. And RD does this very often, at least half a dozen times every year.

Now I ask you, is this a scam or what? We pay for a magazine and they are using it to get us to read advertorials. I did not pay to read advertorials.

What is even more appalling is that RD has been doing this for the past few years and nobody seems to complain.

Well, I am fed up. I am now calling on all Malaysians to boycott RD and force them go back to the time when their articles outnumber the advertorials.

How many of you receive unsolicited SMS selling all sorts of goods and services? The telcos are supposed to protect the consumers from spam SMS but they are still coming. In some instances the telcos are the ones sending these spam SMS.

I just cannot believe that Malaysian consumers would put up with this nonsense.  It’s as if we are paying them to spam us. They claim you can stop these SMS by calling them up and telling them you do not want to get this “service”.

Well I have and guess what? The unsolicited SMS are still coming.

What is worse is that the level of service has gone down the drain. Nowadays if you call a telco, you are put on an automated machine that will force you to select 6 or 7 menu items before you actually speak to a human.

In some cases, the machine is so smart that it will actually end your call and you do not get to speak to any operator!

The biggest scam is the international roaming charges. Nowadays, they cleverly hide the charges. If you send or receive a SMS while overseas, they will charge you twice – once for receiving/sending the SMS, another charge for accessing the network. You just cannot win. Something that costs 15 sen in Malaysia will now cost RM2-4.

Forget about receiving calls overseas – when you get the bill, please make sure you read it at the clinic just in case you have a heart attack!

The European Parliament has decided to reduce the fees for roaming calls, texts and data services in the belief that such action cannot be left to the telcos because they will never reduce the charges.

So, under a new law, starting from this July onwards, all mobile carriers in the European Union will have to comply with new rates set by the EU

The new prices are as follows: €0.43 per call made abroad €0.19 per call received abroad €0.11 per SMS message sent abroad up to €1.00 for 1MB of data used abroad.

Roaming costs will be further reduced in 2010 and 2011 as follows: calls made abroad – €0.39 in 2010 and €0.35 in 2011 calls received abroad – €0.15 in 2010 and €0.11 in 2011

1 megabyte of data used abroad – €0.80 in 2010 and €0.50 in 2010.

In Malaysia, we have so many government agencies supposedly regulating the telcos. The last time I check there were at least two ministries and a commission that are supposed to keep an eye to protect the consumers.

But guess what? These agencies are really “gaji buta” as we keep hearing cases of SMS scams (you know, where you get a SMS informing you that you’ve won a lottery) going on as we speak.

The other big scam we have in this country are the ISPs. The promise “broadband” for less than a hundred ringgit but read the small print – it always “best effort”. This means if your connection is as slow as a tortoise, that’s too bad since they have tried their best.

Yet we, the consumers, cannot not pay them the monthly bill since we also make our “best effort” to pay them.

There are so many ISPs out there now, especially in the Klang Valley, that promise broadband but, as far as I know, most of them are on “best effort”. So much for Malaysia and its broadband dreams.

The government can talk and talk but we consumers know that the broadband in this country is a scam.

Two of the biggest offenders are actually telcos owned by the government – their broadband service can best be described as “lucky” broadband. Lucky as in, if you are lucky, you might get it for a few hours, and if you are unlucky you are stuck with your 364 connection!

It really comes to back to you and me, the taxpayers. We really have lost faith in the government’s ability to run things. Most of us take the attitude that even if you complain; nothing will be done by these agencies. So we suffer in silence.

This is precisely what ails Malaysia today. Citizens of this country accept any shit thrown at them, from the government to private companies.

Malaysians are conditioned to take in as much shit as possible, day in and day out.

James Chin is a Malaysian academic. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the views of institutions he is associated with.

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