User wages one-man war against 'overcharging' telco provider

Chan Eu Jin isn't interested in making a quick buck as a reward for ceasing his complaints to his telecommunications company.

Instead, the 35-year-old is more interested in waging a one-man crusade to ensure telcos don’t overcharge customers.
Chan’s Facebook Campaign “MAXIS: Overcharging customers and possibly pocketing monies that are not rightfully earned”, has been generating buzz among Netizens since December 2012. It has received over 1,200 shares and is causing Chan to receive over 100 messages a day.
Chan’s issue arose when he disputed a Maxis Bridge Data Plan roaming bill he incurred during a visit to Australia in September 2012. While he received a refund of the excess charges, he is still not satisfied as he says specific questions he asked the telecommunications giant were never satisfactorily answered, causing him to turn to social media to air his grievances.
Chan's lengthy email correspondence with Maxis senior management and customer consultants have been shared on his Facebook note, allowing other Facebook users to read in detail how Maxis and Chan dealt with the queries and the complaint (Editor’s note: We’ve not been able to get in touch with Maxis to verify the authenticity of Chan’s correspondence them. More on that below).

“The campaign exceeded expectations, I was overwhelmed and surprised with the support I received after I shared this Facebook note,” he said, adding that there were so many people sharing their experiences about using the roaming facilities and other issues with telecommunication providers.

Users like Azzad Hashim wrote that he had a similar experience.
“But please do report back to Maxis.  They'll investigate and who knows if your claims is(are) valid then can get something in return. Talking from experience dude,” he said.
Another Facebook user, Jaffri Joinnie wrote about his experience of being overcharged for internet services, adding he did not understand how using emails or general surfing could lead up to high charges.
Daniel Chee Zhen Hui also shared his bewilderment on how his mother's “archaic” Nokia phone with zero surfing abilities could be charged with roaming charges while in China.


Complaints against telcos doubled last year: Consumer group

“After ding-donging with them to reverse the charges, I threw the phone on to the Maxis counter and told them if they can go online on that phone, I will gladly pay the bill. Data charges reversed.“

We’ve been trying since January 31st to get in touch with Maxis regarding Chan’s claims. However, Maxis has still not responded to our queries, though they have promised to get back to us soon. In the meantime, here are some of the questions we asked:

1.  How has Maxis viewed Chan's move to make his complaint 'public' by using Facebook?

2.  Chan claims that Maxis ignored his questions which involved his roaming charges and bills. 

a. Can Maxis elaborate on the technical issue (on Aug 28) with detailed and structured explanation?

b. What’s the mitigation to ensure issues like this does not happen again?

c. Will Maxis launch an internal audit to re-check past billings for erroneous billings and provide refunds to affected customers within your 13.8 million subscribers?

3. Will Maxis be providing Chan with responses to these queries?

4.  We have also spoken to MCMC, who confirmed that they are monitoring cases of overcharged roaming fees and are investigating his claims.  We would like to find out if Maxis will take any steps to address this 'gap' in informing consumers about the details of technical glitches that may be causing the overcharging of roaming fees, as claimed by Chan.

5.  We understand that most of the complaints may be a result of customers not knowing how technology works or how telco service packages are priced. Would Maxis be leading any public education campaign to enlighten these customers?

6. We have spoken to several consumer tribunals and associations, and as you are aware there are complaints raised regularly against Maxis and other telcos on overcharging of roaming fees as well as service quality, among other concerns.  In general how does Maxis respond to type these complaints?

Editor's note: In an email response on Feb 8, Maxis Bhd replied to our queries with this:

" Please be informed that we value all our customers and their feedback, and are committed to resolving any issues that they may have through appropriate solutions. As a customer focused organization, Maxis respects each feedback that comes through our multiple channels. We also encourage all our customers to reach us directly to ensure immediate attention to each matter raised."

"In addition, we are continuously developing solutions to help ensure that our customers have the best experience possible through our innovative product propositions."

Meanwhile, Chan said even journalists from mainstream news publications have been in touch with him – but not to uncover the story.

 “They wanted to know how to overcome the problem of being overcharged when using a certain roaming facility.” 

 Chan, who is still a Maxis customer, said he was 'warned' by other Facebook users about the dangers of launching such a campaign, but insists he has no regrets using social media to educate as many users as possible.  Chan also admitted his wife switched service providers after having experienced similar complaints over her fees.

 He did not seek the help of consumer councils or tribunals to resolve his issues with Maxis as he doesn’t feel complaining to these channels 'has a point'.  He also didn’t file a complaint with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) as he had hoped Maxis would have 'done something' about his concerns when he highlighted it on Facebook.

 “I have already gotten my refund, what else can they do? I just want my questions answered.” 

 According to the correspondence posted on Chan’s Facebook note, he was offered a chance to meet up with senior managers of Maxis to discuss his queries, but he declined. 

 National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) deputy director Ravin Karunanidhi told us complaints against telecommunication firms over service quality and overcharged bills have been on the increase since 2011.

 He said there has been a 10 % to 20% rise in complaints on a monthly basis to the NCCC about poor services from telecommunication firms in 2012 as compared to 2011.  Ravin said the increase in 2012 could have been the result of the public being more aware of their rights and the functions of NCCC, resulting in more people making their grouses known. The NCCC is still tabulating their complete 2012 figures, which is expected to be ready in a few months time in time for the launch of their report later this year. Based on its 2011 Annual report, the NCCC received over 8,000 complaints against telcos.

 Complaints in the telecommunication sector ranked second as the most number of complaints recorded by NCCC.  Issues raised were poor network coverage, billing disputes and incompatible plans due to poor explanation by staff or untrained dealers.  NCCC also reported that the value of disputed services in this sector was at over RM100,000, with one complaint highlighting a RM7,800 being charged for roaming services during a three day stay in Australia.

 When we spoke to MCMC about Chan's case and the general trend of overcharged bills, its strategic communications head Sheikh Raffie Abd Rahman confirmed the commission is looking into the issue of overcharged roaming fees not only by Maxis but other telecommunication companies as well.

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