Saturday, November 10, 2007

$6,000 broadband bill....

and the headlines on the New Paper is "Man gets $6000 phone bill because he went overboard". You might think that SingTel is has gone overboard for billing this customer but according to the New Paper this customer has gone overboard....not our friendly GLC.

When he signed up for SingTel's Broadband on Mobile service he was given a 10G limit for $22.42 per month. You might think that if you exceed this by 2-3G (G=gigabyte), you would be billed $60-$70 ...but no!!! The user exceeded the usage by 3G and was billed $12,000. SingTel gave him a discount of 50% for being such a good customer and his discounted bill came to $6,000.

The first thing I did when I signed up for my mobile line was to deactivated the GPRS packet services for web browsing. I had a friend with one of those Nokia phones that has a "quick button" to get to M1's homepage. Once every few times he pushed his phone into his pocket, he will accidentally press this button and download M1's homepage. He didn't realised how expensive until his bill came and he needed to pay for downloading M1's homepage a few hundred times that month.
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Caution, broadband lust
Man gets $6,000 phone bill because he went overboard
By Celine Lim
November 06, 2007


http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,146904,00.html


DOWNLOADING fever can lead to raised temperatures.

Take Mr Zhou Yong Liang for example, who got hot under the collar when he saw he was first billed $12,000 for exceeding his data downloading limit.
He had signed up on 13 Sep for SingTel's Broadband on Mobile service, which has a 10GB-limit, for $22.42 a month.
Two days later, the service was activated.
Mr Zhou checked his email, surfed the internet and downloaded episodes of a TV drama series onto his phone.
On 17 Sep, he got a call from SingTel at 10.45am informing him that he had busted the 10GB data limit by 3GB. He was to pay the excess charges of about $12,000 at a bank.
Mr Zhou raised his case in the Lianhe Zaobao letters page last month.
He said he got a second call at 2.16pm that same day from SingTel.
This time, he was told that he would get a 50 per cent discount on the excess charges, bringing the bill down to about $6,000. His account was suspended at about 5pm the same day.
A SingTel spokesman said: 'We have contacted Mr Zhou to explain to him the charging scheme of SingTel's Broadband on Mobile service. We have since resolved his matter.'
He declined to say how, but added that the account user was happy with the resolution. He said that there have been a 'small handful' of customers who had similar complaints to Mr Zhou.
Excess data download costs $3.80 per Mb so 1000Mb, or 1GB, would cost $3,800.
That explains why Mr Zhou was charged about $12,000 at first for downloading the additional 3Gb.
But that payment scheme applies to those who 'pay-as-you-use' while subscribers with a monthly plan, like Mr Zhou, get a 50 per cent discount off the excess charges. In other words, around $6,000.
Singtel monthly subscribers pay 0.19 cents per kilobyte in 2KB blocks for excess data download.
The spokesman said that the 10GB download limit is sufficient for the average person's needs.
He explained that the service is meant for users to access the Internet 'while on the move' for about 15mins at a time.
They can check their email or surf the Internet using their 3.5G phones or devices, which can stream videos, receive TV signals and send large files.
BEWARE EXCESSIVE USE
But some people use up more gigabytes than others.
The spokesman explained that some use their Broadband on Mobile service in place of a modem to download files and videos to their handphone, transmitting the data to their laptops or computers via infrared communication.
For example,downloading a five-minute video file would take up about 100MB.
Downloading a 50-minute long drama serial would use up around 1GB of data.
So downloading about 8hrs of drama would already use up the 10GB download limit for the month.
The spokesman added that SingTel is currently working on a feature to alert users of their data usage when they reach 'a certain threshold', which has not been decided upon yet.
A similar-priced plan with M1 offers a free 5Gb download limit for a $22.42 monthly fee. Excess data download is charged at $4.28 per GB, up to a maximum of 50Gb.
Starhub charges pay-as-you-use customers 1.07cents per kb for excess download charges and 0.32 cents per kb for those on their $5.35 monthly plan.
The maximum data charges are capped at $94.16 for both types of customers
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Nov 5, 2007

$1,064 shock SingTel bill: Why no warning trigger?
I RECEIVED a shock when I saw my daughter's latest SingTel mobile phone bill this month - a whopping $1,064.46 was charged to a single item called 'GPRS Data Usage Charges'.
There was no breakdown except an indication of '212892K bytes usage'.
I know I can't blame SingTel for the charges but what I would like to know as a parent and consumer are:
1. Why is the GPRS usage so expensive?
2. How does SingTel and other mobile operators inform their customers of the charges involved? For many, the indication of KB usage makes little sense. Do the operators alert the user after each session the amount that has been charged so that consumers (especially younger children) are aware of the implications of cost due to their actions?
3. How can a bill for a 'student account' run up to over $1,000 without even a warning triggered?
I am now waiting anxiously for my next bill, and I wonder how many parents are in the same predicament as me.
Chai Lee Fung (Ms)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nobody has written anything to this article by Lucky, so I thought I will add one.

Why does GPRS usage result in such exorbitant fees?

Well for one reason telcos in Singapore have paid lots of money to the govt including $100 million for a 3G spectrum licence for mobile phone.

IDA in charge of these issues had also proposed the implementation of a nationwide fibre optic network.

This either to be paid with taxpayers money or by the telcos. Whatever the case, the cost will eventually be passed down to consumers, such as illustrated in the subject 2 cases.

In either case, no free lunch from the system as some consumers might be naively hoping, even if the govt foot the bill for such a multi-billion network.

During the advent of the Internet in Singapore, some consumers chalked up Internet access bills as high as $500 a month due to their kids not knowing how their Internet plans work.

Some pay up. However some got so angry that they terminated their Internet subscription and refused to pay altogether.

Anonymous said...

This country is simply amazing. Ever woes can be easily solved by paying more and more...

Anonymous said...

You may wish to see the analysis of the breakdown of the mobile phone wap services offered in Singapore in http://singaporeviews.blogspot.com/2008/04/imode-vs-gprs.html.

seemon said...

yeah. I'm a victim of this problem too. I bought a Nokia E71, but i dont use push mail. Sometimes I hook onto a wireless network and start surfing or chatting over msn.
One time I didnt close an application and it automatically called the profile "Singtel E IDEAS" to get on the internet.

The bill came that month and it was 200 in access of what I normally use. Checked the settings and found that the profile in use was E Ideas, even though I was hooked up to wireless...

So guys, please check your profiles in use for specific applications in your phone. dont pay for an expensive lesson like me.

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