Brand Spot

Here's hoping for a better tomorrow ... better products, better services, better experiences, BETTER BRANDS! A blog for ranting and raving about the stuff around us.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's in your hands?

Whose hands did Celcom mean when they created their tagline?

From personal experience, I don't think they meant the consumers' hands.

When Celcom relaunched its brand image a couple of months ago, I was hopeful for an improvement - that they might have changed from the old school government office who follows slow ineffective internal processes filled with red tape to a modern-day telecommunications company who cares about giving their customers a good experience. (Yes, I am a foolish hopeful!)

When I saw the new Celcom minutes plan promising an attractive flat 15 sen per minute to any number nationwide, I thought I could make a smart move by applying for a corporate account to consolidate our users under one mobile provider and cut the costs of our mobile phone expenses. Little did I know that it would cost me much more in time and health...

The pains of dealing with Celcom became obvious at a telecenter in Mega Mall where I was told I didn't have the relevant documents for a corporate application. (Mind you this is after I'd spoken to careline several times before about getting an account with Celcom). To save time, the telecenter advised me to register a few numbers under personal accounts that belonged to my name which I can later transfer to a single corporate account, at no extra charge. And there the real pains began.

On the second day of using one of the three cards, my company was greeted with a tone that signalled a deactivated line. We checked the second SIM card and again, the same tone. The cards didn't work! Unlike other companies like HSBC, Celcom doesn't call subscribers to inform them if there has been suspected fraud. They just bar the line and wait for you to call their poorly equipped and even more poorly trained careline operators whose single purpose in life is to ask you for your mobile number and name which they somehow loose track of in the course of your conversation. (Is it too much to expect Celcom to have Caller ID? Is it too much to expect the call center operator's pop screen to show your name after they've entered it? Anyway, I digress.) After explaining the situation, the voice on the line coolly said, "Ma'am, where did you buy your SIM card? You need to go to our Celcom telecenter to show your IC." Great! Another trip to Celcom.

Meanwhile, a separate call to the careline verified that a charge of RM70 will be imposed for every personal line that is transfered to a corporate account! You can imagine how thrilled I was by this time. RM150 down, 3 SIM cards that didn't work, another RM210 payment required and yet another trip to Celcom! Plus no mobile number to use!

Couple of days later...when I found some time to meander to the mall again, the telecenter staff told me that the SIM cards can only be activated at the branch! Take your pick...PJ or Taman Tun! Another 20 minute drive each way (at least) and more parking fees!

(If you're already tired of reading about this, you can imagine how drained I was by this time.)

Here I must mention that the poor sales executive at the telecenter was told by his manager(s) that he had to bear the responsibility of misinformation although his company training clearly did not equip him to provide accurate information to the customer. (Gives you an insight into how Malaysian employers treat their employees.) The poor guy offered to compensate me for the transfer cost (which is much more than the total subscription amount) out of his own pocket. So I thought, "wouldn't it be easier to just cancel the lines that Celcom barred and start afresh with the corporate account I wanted in the first place?" Big BIG mistake!


So I go to Celcom in Menara PKNS at State PJ. The branch felt very much like the all too familiar old government offices. 9 counters, 5 opened. The stale smell of its age hung in the air. No happy smiling faces to greet you like you see in Celcom commercials. If it wasn't for the RTM channel playing on a TV screen placed in the middle of the vacant hall and some brightly coloured new TM buntings, you would think the place is completely lifeless.

After searching around for a queue machine (there are no signs to indicate where you might find it), I took a number and waited my turn (sitting through 2 uninspiring RTM1 music videos which are nothing like the stuff you see in the Celcom commercials!)

When my number was called, I met a rep who looked as inspired as someone who is on a life sentence. Ok I must qualify here that he seemed to have a cold and sore throat. I explained my situation. He proceeded to dish out standard red tape responses. After about an hour of to-ing and fro-ing, the rep and his colleagues basically summed up the point that not only are they NOT returning the RM150 which I paid them for defunct cards, I owed Celcom over RM250. Nevermind the fact that the cards could not be used because Celcom barred the lines, their careline tried to reach me but used a wrong phone number (their Taman Tun branch entered a different number from my application form!) and their telecenter misinformed and misguided me during the application.

When I challenged their ridiculous conclusion, they showed me samples of the registration forms that every customer signs and pointed to the fine print - suggesting that I should have graduated in law before applying for their services.

Then the issue was deemed too complex and I was ushered to the branch manager's office. There I met the branch manager briefly (he slipped out of the room after 2 minutes) and his customer service executive who gave me the feeling of speaking to Celcom's lawyer rather than service executive. I almost felt the need for legal representation. Upon completing his line of questioning and investigation, the executive bade farewell and promised further investigation before responding as soon as possible with a [verdict].

Within 15 minutes of leaving the branch, I received a call from the executive promptly confirming that I owed Celcom, that I was at fault. By this time, I was fuming and some f*** words entered the conversation to his and my surprise. One more phone call later, some positive actions were initiated.

After a 5 day ordeal, we now have 3 new SIM cards that actually work!

But the 'case' remains unresolved. Apparently, it could take them 6 months to resolve any disputes. Imagine. RM150 per customer multiplied by a few thousand people nationwide over 6 months. That's a lot of ringgits to roll in the bank, isn't it?

...which leaves me much is in whose hands?


At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 9:15 PM, Blogger patrickteoh said...

You should do I always do in cases like you described. I go to the top. If the branch top doesn't yield results. I go further up. I will camp outside the CEO's office if neccessary. You'll be surprised how many things I have achieved using that system. But of course, being an out of work actor sometimes, I have the luxury of free time:-)

I have never had any pleasure dealing with CELCOM. From the old days of 010 until now with all their snazzy TV commercials they remain a lumbering behemoth of red taped inefficiency.

Recently, my old friend, Dato Shazalli took over the reins of CEO. He's the Malaysian whiz kid of branding. So let's hope he doesn't just produce more TV commercials but will improve life for CELCOM subscribers.

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous samm said...

I had an ordeal with them once and i'm not exactly the type of person one can leave me waiting at the counter whilst they take their own sweet time locating the person who's supposed to be attending to me in the first place.

I charged hubby's celcom bill on auto-billing to my credit card (the card for utility bills) so that it'll make life easier for the both of us because Celcom's very prompt at barring lines.

Instead, their billing system screwed up and i ended up with some whopping billings on my credit card. which is clearly not his.

So, the ding dong battle between Celcom and I started. After a LOT of verifications procedure, endless phonecalls and MUSIC on my part, the amount was finally creditted back to my credit card after about 3 months. And that i'd say is their level of efficiency. They suck big time and hubby's still using their line because the whole world calls him at that number. Hassle to change.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Mel T said...

Hi Samm. I didn't think the experience with Celcom could get worse. A telco that has a billing system that screws up. A comforting thought for subscribers as well as shareholders! And those guys just asked me if I wanted itemized billing for RM3 a piece. YES!!!! May be I should consider switching us to Maxis, the number 1 mobile provider in Malaysia. At least their tagline doesn't lie. They just practice creative accounting in their published rates.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Mel T said...

I hope your friend Dato Shazalli had his mind on the average consumer when he made this statement, "Celcom customer knows that he is POWERFUL! The power of True Connections and to shape his world is in his hands" - Dato' Shazalli Ramly on his 1st day at Celcom as the new CEO, 1st September 2005." Or was he thinking about the large customers i.e. government accounts?

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous shazalli said...

Thank you for all the comments and I have taken serious views on our customer service level. Given time, I will try my best..Shazalli..your friend at celcom.

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Sazzali - FYI, prepaid subscribers not able to roam in Japan, need your help in this lah friend.

Err.. Website also slow.. you guys used dial-up kaa??

At 10:33 AM, Blogger afiq said...

cool.. unc Lee was here.. Celcom had been doing commercials and ads that revolves on teenagers and their likes but it seems that its fighting a losing battle. The approach was hugely successful like the Peterpan concert and the public booth at malls but most (about 95%) of my friends do not use celcom so calling out would be super expensive since they are using digi and hotlink.

Celcom- for the next generation??? Do more hajat prayers...


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