Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Rants on StarHub, Amazon, and More

I wrote this a week ago. It rained. My shoes and socks were wet. I was annoyed. I had a frustrating experience with someone’s customer service that day. And the day before. And earlier that week. I want to complain about them.

In no particular order, let me just start with StarHub. You know the free Disney+ subscription that StarHub customers might be having now? Well, I have that. The free period is ending. Before I forget about it, I want to cancel. I made a note of it in my calendar, just to make sure I get it done before the free period ends, and so that I don’t end up paying for a service I don’t really want.

On a side note, I think companies should be banned from trying to market “free” stuff to customers and then automatically begin charging for a paid subscription thereafter without some affirmation from the customer. Sometimes, we have a paid subscription positioned in a different way: it comes with a free trial at the start, which you can cancel at any time before the trial ends. I know it sounds like the same thing. But I beg to differ.

The former focuses on this free thing that you can get, which you will then have to pay if you continue using it. The latter focus on the paid subscription, which begins with a free trial that you can cancel. It is a matter of perception: free, then pay, versus paid but comes with free trial.

Being kiasu Singaporeans, our brains are wired to think, hey, free leh, must get lah. Then forget about the paying part later.

So back to this Disney+. I remembered. I Googled, and go this:

Yeah, so easy right? Except that I couldn’t find the cancellation option in the app. I searched, and searched. I gave up. StarHub seems to purposely want to make it difficult to cancel the free subscription. Nevermind, so I hit up StarHub customer support through their WhatsApp chat.

I have found chats convenient in the past. But I was in for a surprise this time. When I asked to speak to a human, I was told about some terms and condition of the chat. See screenshot at top of this post. A 4-minute timeout applies. If I do not respond within 4 minutes, the live chat will end.

How not-friendly right? But that’s okay, 4 minutes is not unreasonable of course, but it seems a little rude to be so blunt about it. Worse, that StarHub requires customers to type “yes” to agree to the terms and conditions before the human chat will happen. Still, nevermind. 4 minutes is not unreasonable; it’s just a bit not friendly.

So I waited 12 minutes for a human to respond. Nevermind. And then here’s where I got seriously annoyed and frustrated. StarHub’s own agents took more than 4 minutes to respond to me. Up to 11 minutes at one point.

I am flabbergasted. StarHub wants customers to respond to 4 minutes, because their agents’ time is precious and should not be wasted. But their own agents have the audacity to not return the 4-minute courtesy. Are not the customers’ time just as precious?

Wait. That is not all. The purpose of the chat was to cancel my subscription. The agent did the usual back-and-forth and eventually responded:

Thank you for providing the requested information. Upon checking, you have free Disney+ access until 22 February 2023. We recommend keeping the Disney+ subscription until the free access period ends, as we cannot tag back this promotion once it is removed. You would receive a notification alert before the promotion ends too.

It sounds to me like StarHub wants me to keep the free subscription until it has ended, then ask to cancel it. In other words, they want me to start paying for Disney+, before asking to stop paying for Disney+. What sort of nonsense is this?

I insisted on cancelling, of course, and they acceded to my request. Now, whether they’ve actually acted on my instruction, I am not sure. It’s been over a week, and I am still able to access Disney+.

Complaint number 2 is about Amazon. I am quite surprised to be disappointed by Amazon before they have always been great in the past. But this time my Amazon Prime order was a bit of a frustration. The problem was about the last-mile delivery, and I understand that the problem is with the courier, but regardless, Amazon is the company that engaged them and thus should own the responsibility.

You see, my Amazon Prime delivery was delayed. On the final day of the promised delivery, their tracking showed that my parcel was with a courier and out-for-delivery. It never arrived. Later that day, actually after midnight, the status was updated to “Delay in delivery due to external factors”. Sure, I don’t know what external problems there were. It certainly wasn’t about the weather that day.

Nevermind, the parcel was rescheduled for another delivery. It changed to out-for-delivery, and then, I received notification that it was delivered. It came with photo proof of the parcel left at a door.

The problem? It was not my door. I chatted up Amazon customer support within 2 minutes. Now, this wasn’t the usual Ninja Van kind that had a simple way for my to call the courier. There was no contact for me to call, hence I had no choice but to go to Amazon. I was hoping that Amazon would be able to get in touch with the courier, who surely must be in the nearby vicinity, so that he can correct the mistake.

Unfortunately, Amazon dropped the ball by telling me I had to wait four more days before they can do anything. They gave me reasons like that the parcel could still show up because the courier had mis-scanned the parcel, or that it may somehow still be in the delivery vehicle, etc.

Now, if you were thinking that the wrong door must be one of my neighbours’ so I could just go pick it up myself? Well, I tried to search. First, the photo was far too zoomed in for me to identify the unit number. Regardless, I searched the units on my floor, the ones above, and the ones below, including combinations of unit numbers that could be mixed up. Basically it was not likely my block. I gave up.

This problem is certainly that of the courier not checking that he had put the parcel at the correct unit. Which leads me to complain a bit more about the state of courier services.

I’ve complained about couriers a couple times. Some readers have responded to defend the couriers, that their job is hard, that they face difficulties, etc. I don’t disagree. But I’m just asking simply that they do a reasonably decent job. Because, you see, I was thoroughly annoyed with a Grab Food delivery fella recently.

I ordered food that had soup. It came in a stack of bowls tightly secured in a plastic bag. That stack of bowls was left outside my door lying sideways. When I saw it, at first, I thought it wasn’t a big deal, perhaps the packing was so good that the soup wouldn’t leak out. So, I brought the bag into the house, placed it properly on the table, and then realised that the soup had all drained out into the bag.

Yeah, I didn’t kick up a fuss with Grab or complained to Grab or demanded anything from them. I did not contact Grab at all. I just gave up, because complaining to Grab would likely be even more frustrating. Says a lot about how resigned I am to this level of service.

So that’s my rant this time around. I don’t think I’m asking a lot, or anything unusual. The way things are happening, some day we are going to have to accept that substandard service is the norm. Just asking to get the job done would be an exceptional feat.

Here’s a reminder for those who got the Disney+ free and don’t want to continue with it, do get your subscription stopped before 22 Feb 2023.

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