Hang the telephone


We signed a two year contract with Starhub in Singapore, for our internet connection, our phone (which inexplicably stopped working after two weeks; Starhub told us the problem was our handset, which was odd, as it had worked perfectly well for the first two weeks), and our cable television (which we watched once, in March 2012). As we’re approaching the end of the contract, I thought I’d investigate what to do next.

Starhub have a big shop in one of the malls near us, so I went there, joined a queue, and after twenty minutes explained that I’d had a two year contract, but as that was finishing I didn’t really want to sign up for another two years. First they told me I should change to a really slow internet contract, just in case I moved somewhere that didn’t have the blazingly fast fibre connection I have right now. I’ll never willingly move somewhere that lacks fast internet connectivity, and we have a year to run in our current flat, so I was nonplussed as to why they’d think I’d want to abandon my fast connection for a slow one. Again, I asked, would I have to commit to another two years, or was there anything less restrictive.

"No, you have to sign up for two years" was the response. Of course, for that I’d get free connection, and a WiFi router, and a cable TV box. A bit like the connection, the WiFi router and the cable TV box I already have. I retreated in the face of zero negotiation and went to the M1 shop down the hallway.

There, they told me again that there was no way to sign a contract of less than 2 years. I went down to SingTel, wondering how they got away with this inflexibility. Well, because all three of M1, Starhub and SingTel only offer two year contracts.

We have cellular phone contracts that are expiring too. If we signed up for another two years, we’d get free incoming calls, the man in the SingTel shop told me, without even a hint of embarrassment. Perhaps in a past life he was an estate agent, and boasted to customers that when they bought a house, it would come with hinges on the front door.

Actually, it wasn’t all that bad. If I signed up for a two year contract that I didn’t want, and then wanted to terminate after a year, I’d only have to pay a $500 termination fee. And I would probably be able to keep my $25 WiFi router, if I was polite enough.

I gave up then, and in the face of this nonsense retreated to the baby feeding room, where as my child suckled, I called Starhub customer service, and after enduring options to buy a Samsung Galaxy Note III (somebody needs to get better at making up names for gadgets, huh?) I got through to a customer service agent, who told me I didn’t need a contract at all, but I’d lose the discount I’d enjoyed for the first 24 months in the future.

The discount is just enough to make it a dollar cheaper to have internet and a phone and cable television, than just internet and a phone. So we only had the cable television subscription to save money on a phone that didn’t work anyway: come the start of March, all that gets cancelled. I just wish they’d mentioned to some of the shop staff that there were other alternatives apart from telling customers they had to sign up for two years, or just go away.


2 responses to “Hang the telephone”

  1. And to think, I thought only confusion reigned supreme in the uk when it came to researching alternative contracts.

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