Thursday, December 08, 2011

Defender baby

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Letter to Digi

Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd
D’House, Lot 10, Jalan Delima 1/1,
Subang Hi-Tech Industrial Park,
40000 Shah Alam, Selangor
Tel: 03-57211800 8th December 2011
Attn: Henrik Clausen - CEO

Dear Mr.Clausen,

Let’s start from the beginning. I have been a customer of Digi for more than 10 years now. When I first signed up with Digi that was because at that time I felt that it was the best in terms of cost, coverage and above all , service. The service that I received from the then KL Plaza centre was outstanding, and that was the deciding factor.

Over the years, Digi has also served and treated me well, with occasional souvenirs and gifts thanking me for being a loyal customer. I find that to be excellent marketing in a competitive sector. Lately however, I am fairly certain that that level has dropped significantly, and it is here that I want to highlight to you my grievances.

For starters, my line is constantly being barred. Just last month, my payment of RM368.95 was overdue by 2 days and the line was barred. I checked with the OCS and the overdue bill was the billed amount, along with another unbilled amount of about RM500 that I have not received the bill yet. Let me ask you this, what is the purpose of offering me a credit limit of RM1780, when you are barring my line when it has not reached the limit yet? In fact, what really is the purpose of a credit limit at all? The customer service representative even has the cheek to tell me that even if I have a high credit limit, what if my bill was just RM100 a month, then I wouldn’t need to pay for a year! On a separate incident, another representative told me that I can always call them to unbar my phone anytime. Please look into training your representatives to be more courteous when dealing with customers in the future because that certainly is not what I want to hear. I think you offer credit limits for a reason and if you think your customers are bad paymasters you should decrease their credit limit and not bar their line without any warning.

Which brings me to my next complaint, and that is your customer service representatives. The level of service that I am constantly receiving is such a stark contrast to 10 years ago when I first signed up. At that time, they were courteous, polite, informative and willing to help. Perhaps because of your position everyone possess these qualities when they are around you but I want to bring to your attention what your everyday customer is dealing with with regards to the people who work for you. On numerous occasions I’ve wanted to pay my bills and I do it over the counter, and all of them open at 12pm. Any respectable business would open their doors at 8am if they were customer service oriented or even 9am for regular businesses. Can you explain to me why your counters only open at 12pm? Is most of your staff up so late for whatever reason that they are unable to get to work earlier in the morning? Even so, on several occasions at 11.45pm I am looking at the representatives in the face and they are sitting in front of their terminals, but they refuse to accept my payment, all they say is to come back at 12pm. I want to pay, but you don’t allow me to and then you bar my line. Do you not agree that there is a problem in this that needs to be rectified immediately?

About a month ago I received a call from your customer service asking me to verify my IC number. I asked him why do I need to verify my IC number with you and he informed me that they were just doing that to make sure that all the information is current. Naturally I refused because I do not appreciate being harassed for my personal information. When I asked him for his name and identification he refused to provide those details to me as well, and all he said was ‘Sir, you can see the caller ID is 2211800, that is Digi, I don’t need to give you anything else.’ Do they not know about caller ID spoofing? Even if they do, is that the way to speak to your customer?

In closing, I implore you to look very carefully into these elements that weave the web of your organization. Only yesterday as I was at the counter, a man that was beside me paying his bills too, looking apologetic, he said ‘Sorry, I forgot to pay on long will it take to unbar my line?’ The representative just said, ‘2 hours’. Looking apologetic. It was as if we were in a communist state. I paid my bill and left. No ‘Good afternoon’, ‘Thank you’ or ‘Please come again.’

So let me ask you this, should the customer be afraid of their telecommunications company?

Yours faithfully,

Elby Tan

CC: Terje Borge – Finance
CC: Chan Nam Kiong – Customer & Channels

Letter to my Maintenance Company

To Whom It May Concern:


We are in receipt of your letter dated 6th December 2011 with regards to the overdue amount of RM60.00 from a previous invoice. Please note that this matter is currently being investigated between us and our bank as we have discovered a discrepancy in our accounts with regards to the cheque that has been cleared.

While we understand that this may present a short term inconvenience to your good selves, I believe that we are not withholding your payment on purpose and therefore we do not appreciate being threatened with cutting off our water supply if we do not comply. You may already know that we have been promptly paying the maintenance and other charges promptly even before you took over from KB Property and before that KJ Property.

Please note that under international law you are required to serve advanced notices if you were to cut off the water supply and even so you are required to state that you were unable to recover the bills as they had to be in arrears for a specified number of months in the service and maintenance contract. Please see the UN Economic and Social Council document number E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/20 dated 14 July 2004 which lists our rights pertaining to water supply and sanitation.

Meanwhile, we will settle the current outstanding bill with the cheque that will be couriered to you shortly. While this may be simply an administrative error, we would appreciate if you would attempt to find a more amicable solution before threatening us for non-compliance in the future.

Yours faithfully,

Elby Tan

Letter to Global Witness

elby tan to Annie Dunnebacke: +44 7912 517 127; , Andrea Pattison: +44 7970 103 083;

Certainly the news of Global Witness leaving the Kimberley Process after it has held an instrumental role in establishing it would raise a few eyebrows. But do you really think that it solves the problem? While you may say that the sad truth is that consumers do not know where their diamonds come from but isn't that where education comes in? I am quite sure that even if governments are not cooperative, consumers have a right to know, and the Kimberley Process is a tool that enables the consumer to understand and question where their products originate from.

While it may be difficult to establish ground rules of who does what when, and making sure that key industry players and governments adhere to it, I believe that like all causes you have to fight for what you believe in. The moment you walk out on a cause you lose your integrity and moral standing. How do you expect to maintain credibility with regards to your other campaigns on oil, minerals and other resources? How does any organization expect to maintain any credibility at all if you have set the precedence that they can walk out of any cause they have fought for at any time they want? Imagine if the World Food Programme suddenly decides one day that what they do is too difficult and leaves the people to fend for themselves. How many lives do you think that would affect?

I am quite certain that when you first started out the objective was to make a difference. While I applaud that feat, I think that all you are making now is a mistake.

Yours truly,
Elby Tan

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Almost vegetarian, not quite

Pan fried fish on a bed of spinach
on a bed of roasted pink potatoes
on a bed of sauteed red and green capsicums
with bacon and fresh white button mushrooms.

It really is as far as being vegetarian I am willing to go.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

The problem with invasion

Check out this brilliant article a talented friend of mine wrote. I really think that people ought to get their heads out of the sand and learn to take the news a little more than a pinch of salt these days. Unfortunately, the reverse seems to be happening. I'm glad that at least a few who walk amongst us got our priorities right. Check out: What do we know about Libya?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The superbug culture

A couple years ago I came back from Japan and was down with the flu. It must have been a strain that we don't get here because after 2 weeks of antibiotics and whatever rest I could manage without ending up being a vegetable it wouldn't go away. Finally, I decided to check it out at the hospital.

This specialist basically disinfected me with some disinfectant spray, and after that administered something I came to know as Rocephin. Next day, I was good as new - and so after that I never bothered to go to a GP because what I thought was that they don't know what they're doing.

While that may be still true today, what I didn't realize was that administering a high dose of antibiotics to kill off anything that stood in its way can do more damage than good because it meant that the body is unable to fight off the infection by itself, so if the bacteria or virus developed a resistance to it, there would be nothing left for you to take in the event you fell ill again.

These viruses are now known as superbugs, they are resistant to antibiotics and mutate rapidly. Pharmaceutical companies are not keen to develop the antibiotics to counter these superbugs because it isn't profitable for them. A course of antibiotics last you a week or two tops, where else cardiovascular drugs are to be taken long term, which translates to long term profits for these pharmaceutical companies further strengthening my point that large corporations don't really care about you.

As of now, superbugs are killing more people than HIV, and yet there is generally little or no awareness for it. Why is that so? Perhaps because people don't really think its such a big deal. What you think might be 'just the flu' might be something more deadly if left unchecked. If you're like most people, you might wait to 'ride it out' until you find that something is amiss. You have the SARS, bird flu, and the H1N1 that until it kills people do they sit up and take notice, but how do you prevent it from happening? Don't you think its funny how if you wear a mask out to prevent from getting infected, you're not really thinking of how you're doing it for your own sake, but rather how people would look at you and think you're such a weirdo, but if everyone's doing it you'd think that it's ok because everyone is doing it anyway.

General hygiene is number one. Sanitizing your hands often will definitely help, and of course if you're sick, stop sneezing and coughing in public. Stay home and quarantine yourself. The fact that the superbug, thought to have started in India, where its hot, humid and crowded, becomes the perfect petri dish for this bug to mutate. The largest affected cases also happened in China as well, which leads me to think that its not really just the bug that's killing people, its the culture as well.

You can say all you want but if you're like most folks, if you feel ok, you'll continue working. You don't want to seem too paranoid and other people will look at you and think you're being lazy if you took a day off because of a slight flu. But that's the culture, we are too hardworking for our sake, and that could be deadly. The other thing is that Asian cultures tend to shrug things off as just a small matter, until of course it escalates to something bigger, and perhaps by then it spirals out of control.

Until today I still don't understand how some people can continue to say that 'it won't happen to me'. Shouldn't we have had enough time to evolve into a more advanced culture that prevents something from happening rather than figuring out what to do once it hits you?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Disaster in progress

I've been talking about TEOWAWKI for some time now. Perhaps its due to my upbringing with the 'be prepared' mentality from home, or just simple foresight, but normally people shrug it off, and shelf it under 'crazy'. But it is increasingly evident that something is not quite right with the world, and what better example than the quake/tsunami combination in Japan recently?

Countless number of military experts and statisticians have formulated models and scenarios that form the basis of the TEOWAWKI, or The End of the World As We Know It model, from what can possibly happen, the chain of events and how it unfolds to the way we as humans deal with disaster when it strikes. Up to a point that the aftermath of disasters are usually quite predictable, as evident from the quake in New Zealand and now in Japan, first you lose power and running water, both essentials for survival, then the supermarket shelves run dry, and people start hunting for food next. I don't know about you but I know that I consume about 2 gallons of water per day, and you have to understand that your consumption data doesn't change pre or post disaster. Yes you might be able to enforce some level of rationing, but if you have your head in the sand, you wouldn't have any idea of the amount needed to ration, nor would you know how much you have in stock and how long that would last you, and water is just one of the essentials that's needed for survival. You have to think about food, shelter, and fuel among the other things that you would need post-disaster.

Some of you may argue that even if we do keep a stash of food, water and supplies, what happens if you are forced to evacuate or if natural disaster destroys everything? My answer is this, we do what we can to the best of our abilities. We cannot predict and control everything, but whatever is within our power to change, if we have the option and the ability to do it, we should get it done. You see how the products are flying off the shelves of the supermarkets in Japan and you get an idea what its like when you're desperate. The fact is that in a developed country like that, people can still queue up to buy stuff that's really amazing. I reckon in anywhere else, people would have resorted to robbery or looting. You have to take into account that thousands of people are left stranded, homeless and living in the street. Out of desperation and left without a choice, many would resort to violence to be at the top of the food chain.

So what can we do now? Where do I even begin?

Start from the very basics. At least take some time and assemble your 'go-bag', that's what I like to call it. This bag would contain all the essentials needed to survive for maybe 72 hours or more, this would be the bag that you would take if you had to evacuate in an instant, think about what is important to you, and remember that in emergencies you do not have time to go look for your things, the time it took between the quake and the tsunami was only about 25 minutes. Be realistic as well, you shouldn't pack a 50lb go-bag if you haven't done any training to carry a 50lb go-bag. Aside from your valuables, you might want to think about packing a basic survival toolkit. There are some pre-packed kits for you to save you the hassle, but always make sure that it has the stuff you need, and that you know how to use them. For me, I'd pack it with things that I regularly use, and have trained to use them. I'd make sure to have a reliable flashlight, a good solid knife, some high-energy food like candy bars or PowerBars, at least 3 litres of water, preferably in a CamelBak pouch(a go-bag that is hydration-pouch compatible is a must), a reliable multitool like a Leatherman, a basic first-aid kit that includes at least a pack of Quikclot (a clotting sponge to stop bleeding), a change of clothes in a zip-locked bag, spare batteries and some climbing rope. But of course everyone's build different so your mileage may vary.

The idea is of course to not wait until something happens, and react accordingly, but rather take action now so you won't react with a 'deer-in-headlights' look when something actually happens.