The hunt for a smartphone, and a data plan: Page 2 of 2

The hunt for a smartphone, and a data plan: Page 2 of 2White is cool
I really wanted a white phone simply because I have been having black phones over the past five years. And with BlackBerry offering white as an option for the Z10, I was miffed that Maxis felt their customers did not need the choice of white.
Device Advance Payment/Plan Advance Payment/Upfront Payment = Stiff the customer
This part really got under my skin and was almost the deal-breaker for me in my choice of DiGi.
If the device is supposed to cost me RM699, why the heck do I have to make a ‘Device Advanced Payment’ of RM1,000, which will just come back to me over five months? I guess this is where our telcos are ‘borrowing’ our money and earning interest off it. This was the Maxis deal.
This is apparently a global practice all telcos use.
There is also the Plan Advance Payment. Maxis disburses this rebate over one month. It also has the clearest explanation of the three when it comes to this item. Kudos to Maxis.
In DiGi’s case, its misleading ‘Upfront Payment’ was nearly the deal-breaker for me because unlike an ‘Advance Payment’ option which can be for phone or monthly rate, this ‘Upfront Payment,’ according to the customer service agent, is a combination of device and services plan.
In other words, DiGi is the only operator among these three to charge its customers twice, for the device and the services!
And worse, DiGi does not tell you how your Upfront Payment is dealt with. I had to call its customer service to find out that it deducts RM20 off your bill every month over the period of the 24-month contract. I really give DiGi an ‘F’ for transparency here.
And, just like Maxis, it is ‘borrowing’ my money to earn interest off it.
Celcom does a good job here, just like Maxis, and clearly tells you that your Advance Payment will be used to offset charges from your first bill onwards until the full amount has been utilised.
Contract period
It was interesting that Celcom is the only among the three to give consumers a shorter contract option of 12 and 18 months, while DiGi and Maxis only offer 24 months.
I used to chafe against the 24 month lock-in period, but somehow it does not bother me anymore as I was mainly fixated on the data amounts and monthly cost I would be paying.
The hunt for a smartphone, and a data plan: Page 2 of 2Contract termination fee
This can be a real sucker punch to any consumer who decides to finally call it a day on their relationship with their telco, because it could cost you over RM1,000 to cancel your contract.
Talk about a double-whammy. You finally can’t stand the poor service anymore and find it will cost you a small fortune to end the relationship!
But now DiGi have improved and under its Terms & Conditions, it clearly states that a pre-mature contract termination penalty of RM200 (inclusive of RM100 administrative fee) applies to the plan I am keen on.
But then I find out at the point of buying the phone that any unused portion of my advance payment will also be forfeit. That was sneaky of DiGi!
At least Celcom was transparent about this and states it in its terms and conditions where in the event of early termination, maximum penalty charges of RM500 shall be levied and any remaining amount from advance payment shall be forfeited.
At this point I just gave up and thought to myself, “They are all the same.”
Coming up: After one month, is Karamjit a happy customer, or is he pulling his hair?
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