Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Did You Feel The Pain?

(Photo of Malaysian consumer who's been screwed so many times he's decided to take it lying down)

If you didn't feel any pain up your rear end but have been reading the papers over the last few days you might just have been awake enough to know that you've been screwed yet again. This time by the petrol companies and the retail petrol stations. After some hoohah about not wanting to accept credit cards for petrol purchases the usual committees were set up to "discuss" the matter. Then the government stepped in and made the mandatory statement about how things should not affect the poor raayat in a negative way. Those of us 'older' flers were expecting the next step to be announced which was "Screw the blaardy consumer. Again." And so they did. It was announced yesterday that the petrol companies and the petrol station owners had come to a mutually beneficial agreement. And notice I picked the word "mutually" very carefully. It's just between them and them. You and I have no say in this. Read this...

"Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal said the agreement was reached on Oct 19 at a meeting attended by petrol dealers, petroleum firms, banks, credit card issuers and representatives from Bank Negara.".......New Straits Times, Tueday, October 26 2005. Do you see you and me in that equation? Of course not.

Drum roll please......................From November 1, all petrol purchases with credit cards will no longer be eligible for reward points.

Now do you feel a little fire in your rear end? Well, maybe a little pinch. During good times we don't get anything special from these big businesses and when things go soft we are the ones paying to bail THEM out of their problems? I can hear some of you saying that it's nothing what. Just don't get a few points toward getting a free bar of soap or a free bottle of mineral water only what. That's true. With the system it will take some years of fill-ups before I become eligible for something as valuable as a box of chocolates. But that's not the point is it? If petrol companies need loyalty programmes it means that there is keen competition among them and they NEED our custom. So why are we letting them get away with it when it comes to losing a few sen profit per litre? And when you think about it what do credit card companies do for charging you a couple of hundred Ringgit a year in subscription fees? Ya, what? It makes it more convenient for us, the consumer to spend money and so we do and they make profits out of that. And we need to pay them for that???!!! What do petrol stations offer us other than a facility to get fuel? Their toilets are still filthy. Their so-called convenience shops sell crap at inflated prices and now they don't even offer to wipe your windscreens or inflate your tires. Service at service stations has become a privilege. Which you pay for.

Doesn't sit well with me I'll tell you. So what am I going to do?

Sigh. I must admit that I am also going to submit and hang my head in defeat. What to do? Don't buy petrol and don't drive ah? Take LRT and bus ah? Cannot lah. Inconvenient lah. I am ashamed of myself but I will still drive and buy petrol with my credit card and be F***ed up the ass. Cash? No I don't fancy carrying a thick wad of Ringgits just so I can add "mug victim" to my list of 'screw'-ups. If you know what I mean.

This is merely the latest in our long history of getting the shitty end of the stick as consumers. Think about it. How many times has this happened just in the last 6 months. No make that the last 6 years! Of course, it is no longer a surprise that the Malaysian consumer is another apathetic creature that is not going to become extinct in a hurry. And big businesses have learned this and are using it to great advantage in swelling their annual bottom lines.

Now I am going to do something gross. If you're squeamish or if you're under 18 please leave now. I shall not be responsible if you throw up all over your Imbi Plaza keyboard.

I am going to pull the shitty end of the stick out of my behind and read the ringed history of how I have been screwed. Ready? This is your last chance. Okay, here we go...........NGMMMGPH! There it is. Let's see........

1. I pay taxes, cukai pintu etc. but the water that comes out of my tap is not fit for drinking. And so I spend more money buying those water filters. Now that's become a "keeping up with the Jones' "fad too. My filter is better, shinier than yours. Mine costs more than yours. And big business is laughing all the way to the bank.

2. I go to see a movie. Pay the ticket price and then get screwed by scratched prints, bad sound and censor's butchering. But that has been the subject of another bellyaching session here. (Go to "Pay Money Orso Cannot Get Ah? Niamah!" below)

3. I pay good money to park in a parking lot so that I can patronise and spend more money in some shopping mall. Then I get accosted by signs that tell me the management is not responsible for anything that happens to my car while in that parking lot.

4. I pay tolls so that I can drive smoothly from one place to another. Then I get stuck in a traffic jam just to pay my toll.

5. I pay good money to get hooked up to a satellite TV network. Then I get out-of-date programmes that my Singaporean friends keep reminding me are so "last season" leh. Of course these satellite TV flers are constantly coming up with new "packages" which means that you need to pay more and more money for programmes that you don't want to watch. Simply because the programmes you want to watch will packaged with those that you don't.

I can go on with more examples but I think the smell is getting a little too much to bear. But I'm sure you get the picture.

I think we're so used to being screwed that we don't even feel the pain anymore and I swear that some of us really are beginning to enjoy it.

My prayer is that one day the Malaysian consumer will stand up and scream, "I'm mad as hell and I won't take it anymore!!!"

Errrrr...but no lah. Too inconvenient lah. Too much trouble lah. Hiyah! Waffor make trouble. Can make money enough lor. Or as my friend Jit Murad would say, "At least we're better off than Ghana."

Sigh. Kerana Mu Malaysia. Boleh.


TV Smith said...

Hey! Wasn't that the guy we saw outside Beach Club? Wah.. you told me you going shopping in KLCC and you came home with a blog.

With the consumer associations and so-called regulatory bodies screwing us too, what you expect my friend?

patrickteoh said...

Aiyah, Smith. What I expect is some fair play lor. Of course our consumer associations are toothless tigers and the regulatory bodies are more like cadavers.

Adriene said...

i so agree with number 4. I think that toll in Jalan Damansara, the one in front of Eastin is ridiculous for being jammed. And very unfair on the PJ residents who moved in and were using that road since decades ago.

Trashed said...

Baarger, no wonder I've been constipated so long.

mob1900 said...

The last time since anyone sponsor any 'Fair-play' awards was MILO and it seems eons ago. Now their parent company, Nestle has been taken to court for using Forced Child Labour.

It's the same old, same old and we always get the bitter end of any deal when it involves consumer awareness 'coz we're Malaysians, we malu nak boykott, malu to boykott for basic rights but champion when it involves other countries(Thailand Embassy, the latest case scenario).

Our tolerance level is exceptional High coz we drink recycle tea leaves Teh-Tariks.;P

Samy V said...

Where have you been living all this while, ah? Mars, ah? Don't you know everything in this cuntry has been Barisan-ed long, long, long ago.

The so-called 'power-sharing' is actually 'profit-sharing' among all the monkeys. And if they got a good thing going, and if they are on the gravy-train, why should they care for the less fortunate? Their bank balance keeps growing but the consumers can only fart, fart, fart. Just pay your toll la and let me collect.

Anonymous said...

Aiyoooo. Even this post is constipated. I mean it took the picture forever to load 1cm. And when I finished reading the entire post, even that 1cm shrank back. No pic!! Jia Lat!!

Samm said...

Aiyo, pat... y u neva pimp my services to thrashed?

midnite lily said...

eh, dun forget, pay road tax also still ve to pay toll...

prodigal said...

Patrick, I posted something yesterday but it didn'tcome out so I'm gonna post it here again plus revisions.

U said that "Parking at Suria KLCC is cheaper. I think. I am assuming that not many of you are fond of begging lah."

Your reference to begging reminded me of the beggars and rubbish strewn all over the walkway at the LRT station if u were to take the Putraline LRT to KLCC (KL City Centre), where the station is hidden away under the road infront.Surely that is NOT a good sight for the tourists who make their journey to this Malaysia Boleh site!

Let me just add one more to your list of lamentations:
We pay good $$$ for 1MB broadband and we get shortchanged with only 200-400 kbps.

Nonetheless, I wanna thank u for the all laughter that u have given me and I really enjoyed reading ur stuff in OPTIONS. I remember reading somewhere that Rowan Atkinson of Mr. Bean fame is a member of MENSA.

Here's something to reciprocate in that I wanna email this joke to you but don't have your email address-leh, so here goes:

After digging to a depth of 100 meters last year, Russian scientists have found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years, and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network one thousand years ago.

So, not to be outdone, in the weeks that followed, American scientists dug 200 meters and headlines in the US papers read:
"US scientists have found traces of 2000 year old optical fibers and have concluded that their ancestors already had advanced high-tech digital telephone 1000 years earlier than the Russians."

One week later, Malaysian newspapers reported the following: "After digging
as deep as 500 meters, Malaysian scientists have found absolutely nothing. They have concluded that 5000 years ago, their ancestors were already using wireless technology.

Malaysia boleh .....haha

lecram sinun said...

WOW, Patrick, that is quite a rant... and probably justified.

BTW - Just posted a NEW HNT... it's quite the production number. Perhaps it will perk up your Friday morning!


Anonymous said...

Hi Lecram. Oh is that what they call it, a rant? LOL. Of course it is justified;-) Going now to check out HNT. Those of you who have not had an HNT experience I highly recommend it to start your day, week, life. Go here and ENJOY!

patrickteoh said...

Okay, okay, okay, Trashed the next time you're constipated go visit Samm there. She promises to set you right or at least pump you out. 12,000 miles might be a bit far to travel for an anema.

Sharizal said...

patrick: how long do you think i can milk sympathy so that i get other people to drive me around rather than me drive and spend all that money on petrol? :)

suanie said...

everytime i think of how we've been shortchanged and how unfair it is, i think of our local food and i am happy.

stomach over riding my head. it's all good.

rkaru said...

When the LDP was first opened, I cruised happily on my way to Bandar Menjalara, paid RM1 to the toll collector and ran smack into the then-notorious LDP/Jln Sungai Buluh jam. I called up the highway's hotline and berated the poor person handling the calls about, among other things, how traffic light junctions at the end of highways would never ever work. The poor guy never got a word in, and in the end just said;

"Terima kasih encik. Saya akan ajukan aduan encik kepada pihak atasan."

I knew my rants wasn't getting anywhere, but I was just letting off steam.

sherrina said..., my Real Reward card and Mesra card is now useless eh?

dhssraj said...

hmm interesting, im sure people that came up with this new credit-card-unfriendly policy have thought it through but..

im not sure if we should really complain. the whole purpose of a credit card for the companies that issue it is that we dont feel the 'punishment' of paying with cash. let me elaborate further this Punishment vs Reward theory.

when a person pays by cash, this is a form of punishment where he/she actually see's his money being taken away from him. now if u replace cash with a piece of plastic, the effect of 'punishment' is actually significantly reduced, and the person instead gets his new item/service (a "reward"). he doesnt feel the pinch of spending as much. hence the billion dollar credit card debt industry! people actually start spending a lot more than they need to because of this cause they dont feel the "pain" of spending. behavioural science research has actually found this out quite a while ago. smart companies employed these scientists to manipulate human behaviour to their advantage. so did casino's. thats why now days we get sooo many perks for using our credit cards.

so removing reward points should technically give us less reinforcement/"rewards" to use credit cards. hence some may use cash when previously they used credit cards. those that did use cash supposedly undergo 'punishment' and are more likely to be more careful with their money in the future. hence less spending.

i wonder if this new policy would benefit the petrol companies. maybe they are and still feel removing reward points wouldnt affect credit card use as much.

im sure they thought of their own pockets well before coming up with this law. so im probably wrong somewhere.

patrickteoh said...

Hi dhssraj. You're right of course about credit cards and their punishment/reward system. Of course they have thought this through. Otherwise, how can they fulfil their vocation of being in business to screw the consumer? So are we all going to stand for it? Sure. What to do? Hiyah! Too troublesome lah. Just do like we're told lor:-)

Sherrina, the answer is yes. If you use them to purchase petrol.

To Rkaru, "Terima kasih encik. Saya akan ajukan aduan encik kepada pihak atasan." is the one stock answer that really means, "Thank you, we shall forget about you the moment you hang up the phone. Goodbye."

To Suanie, I typed you a long reply but it got lost in cyber space somewhere. Not really true la what you said. Local food purveyors are also screwing us what. Remember how prices of a simple cup of kopi-o goes up with increases in fuel prices, electricity tariffs, water charges etc. Petrol goes up 10 sen kopi-o also go up 10 sen and so on. So how does make you feel better?

To Rizal, hiyah just keep looking your usual self and there will be no end of babes wanting to ferry you in and out of your wheelchair:-)

rkaru said...

I know Patrick, as I said, I was just letting off steam. But there was once when my phone-in complaint really had an effect.

At the beginning of this puasa month, a particular 5-star hotel ran a radio commercial for their Ramadan buffet. It featured 2 Malay-sounding guys going on and on about how there were too many food and that they might just have to book a room to savour everything. The way it sounded on air, it potrayed that Muslims have nothing else to do after breaking fast, but eat all night.

So I called the hotel, and not wanting to get the stock reply, demanded to speak to the person in charge of radio commercials.

The commercial was never heard again. Or maybe it was just I who didn't catch it again when it played.

Trashed said...

Wahh, Rkaru, power la you

Zsarina said...

Very true..consumer activism is sorely needed here in this country.

bayibhyap said...

an expatriate friend of mine went to a petrol kiosk to fill up (his tank was really, really empty). after filling up, he went to the counter to pay. this was when the card swipping machines weren't available then. the line was down and he did not carry enough cash.

the petrol kiosk staff refused to let him leave despite promises to pay later until they kept his spare tyre for collateral! LOL...

magus said...

Hi guys
what do you expect in Bolehland? The f#*king toll plaza of the LDP at Sunway is also damned f##ked!!! jam all the way in to pay the ransom and then jam all the way to get out. What the bloody fs! I cannot for the life of me understand how the authorities can approve a toll plaza at a location where there is not enough land for proper access and egress. Actually on second thoughts, I can understand how.
what about the cost of telephone bills? those years we get unlimited local calls, now we pay through our asses.
AS for the credit card cos, these are downright unethical and morally irresponsible in the way they push the cards to unsuspecting innocents and then seduce them to spend and get them into debt which they later may have to borrow from "alongs" to settle. Anyway, to show our displeasure, we can buy less petrol each time and pay with cash. If you spend 80 bucks each time for a full tank, cut it back to 30 and then pay by cash. Do it for a month and see what happens. It is about time we taught these unscrupulous robber barons a lesson. And like Patrick said, "Niamah"