Whining of a Singaporean on charges imposed on 4G Service
Not sure if any of you are informed of this piece of news on Yahoo!News (https://sg.news.yahoo.com/starhub-4g-users-to-be-charged-from-june-as-promo-ends-084526543.html).
Are you on the 4G or LTE mobile data network under StarHub?
If so, you’ll have to start paying for the service. StarHub, Singapore’s second-largest mobile service provider, will start charging its 4G users $2.14 a month for the service from 1 June this year.
This price, it says, is a promotional one that will last indefinitely, meaning that there will likely come a point when users will have to pay the full monthly charge: $10.70 a month.
Here’s a little-known fact to most users on 4G, though: it’s actually a value-added service that had been offered free since the telcos first introduced it a few years ago. For StarHub, it was since September 2012.
StarHub says it initially intended to start charging for 4G usage from the start of this year, but decided to extend the ongoing free promotion till 31 May. Its spokesperson also told Yahoo Singapore that the company has updated the information on its website and brochures advertising its mobile price plans for all its customers, with the intention of giving customers more time to decide whether or not to stay on 4G.
What about the other telcos? M1’s website lists that 4G will stay free until the end of this year. A clause on SingTel’s website says “4G Value Added Service is offered free till a date SingTel determines (emphasis added). Usual price is $10.70/month.”
This piece of news have received sufficient lash back from the community which resulted in the intervention of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) to stop Starhub on its attempts in imposing the additional charges (Reference: http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/starhubs-bid-charge-4g-blocked).
|Lash Back from the Netizens|
So what is my take on this?
Let me begin by telling you an interesting fact on how the term “Daylight Robbery” come about.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Window Tax was introduced in England and other European countries as a type of Property Tax based on the number of windows a house has.
In order to avoid the tax, some houses have sealed their windows with bricks and these bricked-up houses were still pretty prominent during our visit to London some years ago. The taxpayers felt that they were “robbed” of their entitlement to “daylight” as they were compelled to seal their windows in order not to pay the additional tax imposed and hence this became known as “Daylight Robbery” which means blatant and unfair overcharging or extortion in short.
|A house in Portland Street, Southampton, with bricked-up spaces in place of windows|
Photo Credit: www.wikipedia.org
What our telcos are doing now is equivalent to “Daylight Robbery” in those days.
In this technologically advanced era, we tend to rely on smartphones to communicate and receive new information. Gone were the days where we used the Short Messaging Services (SMS) to communicate after the introduction of data plans – we started to use social media apps like Whatsapp, Viber, WeChat, LINE Messenger instead to avoid the SMS and TalkTime charges. Telcos in Singapore have discovered this loophole and further limited our data plans – from the 12GB in the past to only 3 – 4GB.
I bet most of us who have just renewed our subscription plans would be rather upset over this.
4G a Value-Added Service?
Moreover, advanced technology doesn’t mean that it is more convenient – in the case of 3G vs 4G. I personally do not think that 4G is any faster than 3G. Instead, I ended up refreshing my browser / Facebook Newsfeed a few times before I can see the page in its entirety (not sure if the other users have experienced this frustrating technical glitches). And.. I believe that by doing so, we consume more data usage and hence I ended up paying more than what I usually would pay on top of my fixed monthly subscription fee. This is terribly upsetting! I really do hope we can get this problem fixed with more wifi hotspots available (functioning ones please!).
So if you were to tell me that 4G is a value-added service, I am sorry because I cannot appreciate what kind of “value” is added in it after reducing our data plan from the 12GB to 4GB.
Hidden Terms disguised in Fine Prints
|Verbal Omission & Hidden Terms|
Many consumers were not aware that 4G is a “perk” – instead, we have always regarded it as an “entitlement” in our contract.
I remembered the frustration of being charged for the additional “value-added services” which I was being automatically subscribed to when I re-contracted my plan. These value-added services were the free perks given for the 1st month of re-contracting / subscription for you to try out but if you do not unsubscribe from them after the 1st month, you will be charged for them from the 2nd month onwards.
I heard from a friend that his Dad (being illiterate) had been paying for these so-called value-added services for years without knowing why was he paying the extra bucks after being harassed by SMS updates on the Toto Winning numbers etc etc. It was only discovered (a couple of years later) after my friend happen to come across the bill after wondering why is his Dad paying more than an average plan would cost as he only uses his phone to make calls most of the times.
This is a very realistic example as to what the uninformed and ignorant consumers (especially the elderly) would be suffering from if they do not probe further in why are they paying for the extra costs. They end up paying a lot more for NOTHING in the long-run.
As consumers who need to use the data plan, we feel helpless at times when the telcos start finding excuses to impose charges on their value-added services.
This is akin to daylight robbery and the final result will lead to us blocking our windows out by opting for the 3G service instead as we do not find a need to use the 4G since it is not significantly more efficient.
|4G not necessarily more efficient than 3G|