Customer Service is Dead in Malaysia

I have always known that the customer service level in Malaysia is appalling. Now, mind you, I am in the service industry so I am not just some jack*ss who’s mouthing off simply because I’m having a bad day. Today I decided I have had enough nonsense and decided to write several letters of complaints. And much to my annoyance, the letters worked. It merely confirmed my suspicion that in order to get your complaints to be attended to, you need to do something dramatic like raising your voice, or threatening to write to the relevant authorities. Why can’t customer service people provide the service at the first place without waiting for the customers to turn red, blue and purple in the face?

Here are a few incidents, in no particular order. All these are incidents that actually happened to me in the past couple of months alone.

1. Nokia Competence Centre.

More like Nokia Incompetence Centre. I own a E90 phone, a ridiculously expensive but worthless piece of phone. One day without warning or notice, the microphone broke. Since I need to carry 2 phones at any one time, one being my business number and one personal, I needed to get the unit fixed immediately. I carry an AP licence. A quick check with my dealer revealed that the phone can only be repaired in a minimum of two weeks because of CNY and the fact that the parts are not in stock. Since I was headed to Jakarta, I decided to take the phone straight to Nokia and pay for the repairs myself instead of using the warranty. This was about 2 weeks ago.

First, I went to the centre in Sunway Pyramid. The shop assistant told me that they do not do repairs, and that I have to go to Low Yatt Plaza, Level 13 at Jalan Imbi. So far so good.

The next day I went to Low Yatt Plaza and discovered that there is no Level 13. I then called 103 to get the number of Nokia’s HQ service centre (“Nokia”) and the receptionist who answered the phone told me to get my butt to Plaza Berjaya in Jalan Imbi. I called again to ask if the part is available as I didn’t want to waste my time chasing an elusive microphone that is not in stock. She repeated her instructions in a bored voice, i.e. I have to come to Nokia and find out.

So I went to Plaza Berjaya. The centre is on Level 3 but there was no sign anywhere. I had to ask the security guards and shopkeepers to find the damn place. Upon arrival, I took a number and sat down. There were 5 customer service people (“CS”) attending to various complaints. One of the customers was getting very agitated and started screaming but the CS was unpertubed.

After about 20 minutes, my number was still not called. There were 2 empty counters. Sensing my growing impatience, one of the CS waved at me and asked me to take a seat. When I did, she took a look at my phone and said that I have to take a new number coz E90 owners are, apparently, priority customers. Sigh. Ok, so I went back to the ticketing machine and took a new number. After waiting for ANOTHER 10 minutes, the same CS called me to her desk. The thing was, her desk had been empty all along! Why did I have to take a new number and wait an additional 10 minutes?

I explained to her my problem and she proceeded to explain to me what AP warranty means. I cut her off and said I know what it meant and I had seen my dealer but I wanted the phone fixed asap so I was willing to pay for the damages myself. Without looking at my phone or asking me for my details, she asked me how sure I was that the mic was broken. I told her that the repair guy at the dealer had taken a look at it and confirmed it was the mic. Then she said that they have no parts and they don’t know when it would be coming, all this without checking her computer, making a phone call or consulting a technician. I asked her, if you place the order today, when can you get the parts? She said, I don’t know. She didn’t even bother to find out, she automatically said I don’t know. I asked her to check with her warehouse or her supply guy or technician, she then stood up and went into a room. About 2 minutes later she returned and said no one knows.

At this point I was already very upset. I then asked her what would be her proposed solution. She just looked at me blankly and then said, oh maybe you can go to BB Plaza and see if the Nokia there have parts. I blew up and told her, excuse me but I think you should call BB Plaza and find out first before shooing me off to another wild goose chase. She said, I can’t do that, you have to go there yourself.

Ok, this is the freaking customer service HQ and they don’t know if they have parts or otherwise? What the f***. I stood up and went to the sofa and called my office. I asked one of my subordinates to call (in my own words) all damn Nokia centres in the city and check if they have parts. 3 minutes later my sub called to say the one in Amcorp has the part and can repair the phone in two days, provided the job queue is not full.

I went back to the counter and said to the CS, if my people can find this information in 3 minutes and she doesn’t even have access to the full list of Nokia cervice centres in the city, why can’t you? She just looked at me. No apologies. No nothing. I asked to see the supervisor and she said they have no supervisor.

There you go. And they have the nerve to call themselves the Competence Centre?!!!!

In contrast, the service centre in Amcorp is owned by a dealer (N Mobile). I was attended to the minute I walked in, no waiting time whatsoever and when I explained my situation the first thing the CSP did was to check my phone and filled up a Repair Form. She then took the serial number, keyed it into her system and recalled my warranty information. After she finished inspecting the phone and filling up my details, she returned my SIM card, memory card and battery in a sealed ziplock bag with a service chit; and sealed my phone unit in another ziplock bag to be sent for repairs. After checking the job queue, she informed that the phone will be ready in 2 days. I spent a total of 7 minutes there and paid only RM50. When my phone was ready, I received a phone call to inform that I could come to collect it.

Moral? Shame on you, Nokia. Your CS people and its managers/supervisors should be fired or nailed to the lamp post as lesson to everyone else.

2. Courts Mammoth Home Delivery Service

On Feb 2, I went to Ikea to buy furniture. On our way home, Ina suggested that we pop by Courts Mammoth in USJ1 since it was having a clearance sale. I was about to receive my Wii so I knew I needed a new TV so I said yes. In the end I bought a JVC 14″ TV and a small SHARP microwave for my room, paid everything in cash and instructed for the electronics to be sent to my home. I paid the delivery charges, was given an invoice and delivery slip and told that it would arrive within 2 days.

On Feb 4 my sister told me that the goods haven’t arrived. I was about to leave for Jakarta so I could not be bothered and told her to just be patient. I came back on Feb 14. Imagine my surprise when there was still no TV or microwave! It’s been 2 weeks and no delivery? The store is not even 10 minutes away from my house!

So I called the number stated on the delivery list i.e. Courts Mammoth’s HQ. I was told to called a PJ number. When I called that number, the person told me to call the USJ number. I tried the new number no less than ten times but to no avail. I called the HQ again to ask if there is anyone else I could speak to. Without waiting for my explanation, the receptionist patched me through to the PJ number! Round and round we go. The same person answered, and in an annoyed voice told me to keep trying to call the USJ number. When I said I was not able to get through, she said brusquely “Just keep trying, we are very busy you know”, as if I have nothing better to do but call Courts in my free time.

After trying repeatedly I finally got through. The person in USJ did not leave me her name, but after I gave her the invoice number she said hurriedly that she would call me back. I asked her, how are you going to call me if you don’t know my name or my number? She went silent for a while, so I told her to take a pen and paper and write my contact details down. She said she would call me back.

After an hour there was still no call. I decided to ring USJ again. Same lady answered. She said they f*cked up my order (ok she did not use the word fuck but you know what I mean) and the products are now in the cash and carry warehouse and can I come and collect them myself? I could not believe what I was hearing. I told her I would not have opted for the delivery service if I could take the purchase home with me especially since I was in Jakarta the whole of last week. She stammered and said she needs to check with her manager. I asked her why she needed to do that since I am a legitimate customer and I have paid for the purchase AND the delivery? Why would I need her manager’s permission to get the products delivered to me? It didn’t make sense.

She spoke to someone over the phone and I could hear that someone insisting that I should come to the cash and carry. When she got back to the phone I told her that this was not my problem and as far as I am concerned, I want to products to be delivered, period. I should not be held responsible and be inconvenienced for an error that was on Courts part. In fact Courts should bend backwards to try to send the products to me as soon as possible. She said she would call me back.

Of course there was no calls and no apologies. Fuming, I went home, turned on the laptop, went to its website and wrote a complaint email using its feedback form. After writing the complaint, I hit Send and what do you know, there was a processing error. Of course there is. One would not expect its website to be functioning in tip top condition if its people are not. Luckily I had made a screencapture of the complaint letter so I pdf the file and sent it via email to its HQ, threatening (among others) that if the products are not delivered by 12pm tomorrow, the same email will be forwarded to Malay Mail, FOMCA and Securities Commission.

Then I made a drink and waited. Less than 15 mins later the HQ called to say that they received my email and this, ahem, misunderstanding will be attended to immediately. I told them there is no misunderstanding on my part, the error is theirs so they should do whatever they need to do to fix it. A few mins later, the PJ branch called to determine which branch took my order (despite me repeatedly telling them that it’s the USJ branch. I even put it in the email!). Then, voila, the USJ people called to say that they can deliver my products immediately (as in right away). I told them no one is home and I am at work so they have to come after 6.30pm. The delivery guy gave me his cellphone number and said he will call again at 6pm to confirm delivery.

So, it took a village and no less than 20 phone calls all around to get a small 14″ TV and a 23L microwave to be sent to my apartment that is not even 10mins away from the store.

3. EON Bank Customer Service Centre.

I own an EON Bank MOL Freedom Prepaid Credit Card. The main purpose for me to apply for the card was to do online purchases. I was involved in a long drawn credit card fraud before so I am very wary of using my normal credit cards for online transactions. With this card, I only load the exact value whenever I want to go online so no one can steal the card number and abuse it since it will literally have zero credit. If I run out of money it is just a simple matter of going online to transfer some funds from Maybank to EON Bank (EB). The premise sounds good and practical, right?

Ok, so here’s what happened.

On Feb 7 and Feb 10 respectively, I effected interbank transfers via and the MOL website coz I wanted to have some ready credit for my trip to Jakarta. When I checked my account balance on Feb 11 i.e. the day I was supposed to check out of my hotel, much to my surprise both transactions were not credited into the account. Both transactions were recorded as “successful” in my maybank2u internet transaction history.

I called the EON Bank customer care (“EONCC”) on Feb 11 at 4.25pm to enquire about the transactions. I was being told that since my transaction was done on a public holiday, EON via MEPS would only clear the money the next day i.e. on Tuesday (Feb 12). I informed the officer that I was in Jakarta and needed to use the credit card to settle my hotel bills and purchase airline tickets on Feb 11 itself and requested to speak to a supervisor. After being put on hold for more than 30 minutes and despite telling the officer that it was an international call, the officer informed me that his supervisor refused to speak to me and that there was nothing they could do. I then asked for the supervisor’s name and was told that it is one Ms Kristina Malar (Team Leader).

I settled my bills with cash but I was worried and a bit upset over the missing money and the shoddy treatment by EONCC. Today (Feb 15), I checked my account and found that the monies are still not credited. I called EONCC again at 9.59am and was told that this was not their problem and that I was to call MOL Customer Care. I enquired why do I need to do that and the answer given was that it was not EONCC’s problem. I asked about the flow of chain of fund transactions so that I could understand where the bottleneck was but the officer does not know how it works.

I subsequently informed the officer, En Mohd Nazim that I would like to lodge complaint on 3 matters and would like to speak to his supervisor. The complaints were:

1) I am given the runaround and inaccurate information regarding my account that resulted in inconvenience, embarassment and financial difficulties. If the problem lies with MOL, I should have been given this information when I called on Feb 11.

2) I have previously requested for a Secure Code PIN. On Feb 7 I logged into EON Bank website to change the pin and was locked out. When I called EONCC I was told to call back during a work day. I informed En Nazim of this problem and he said he could not help me unless I could tell him specifically what was the error message given. I told him that the error message came up after I tried entering the code 3 times, however I could not remember what it was exactly. I was informed that EONCC could not help me then. No offer was made to re-issue the Secure Code or unlocking it, I was not offered any apologies either. I asked him to just re-issue the code since that would resolve the problem and he said no. He said NO, HE CANNOT DO THAT. No other options were suggested to me.

3) I also complained that on Feb 11, instead of assisting me, the EONCC officer put me on hold for more than 30mins despite knowing that it was an international call. At no point did the officer asked me for my name or contact no, the supervisor also refused to speak to me despite my direct request to do so.

Just like what happened on Monday, En Mohd Nazim refused to put me through to his supervisor, claiming that he has many bosses. When I told him that I am writing a letter of complaint to bring up EONCC’s poor customer service level to the authorities, he quickly gave the name of one Mr Wan Iskandar (Team Leader).

I subsequently called MOL and was informed that there was a problem with their servers hence the transactions had to be done manually.

So what do I do? I sent a complaint letter to FOMCA. Of course EONCC called me back. En Mohd Nazim called me at 11.58am to inform me that MOL is taking care of the problem and it has been resolved. I had to laugh. All these happened AFTER I had suffered the runaround and had to make many phone calls to find out what happened to the transactions; and, more importantly, after I spoke to MOL and MOL resolved the problem. Not only EONCC was completely unaware of what’s happening (thus blaming other things like it’s the public holiday, it’s MEPS problem etc), they were also the last to know. In other words, everyone and his grandmother knew what was happening before EONCC has a clue.

Until now I have not received any apologies or explanation from EONCC or EB. I am also upset with the fact that I will be saddled with an enormous mobile phone bill due to EONCC’s lackadaisical attitude towards customer care and their breakdown in communications  with their own freaking SUPPLIER. They should have known of the problem from the very beginning. How can several secure servers (plural, yes) that are used for massive online transactions be down for more than 2 weeks and no one knew about it. Saying “It’s not our problem” is not an acceptable explanation, so is putting a customer on hold for more than 30mins only to be told that the supervisor refuses to attend to the call. Why should I be made to pay? So, I am effecting a consumer tribunal complaint to demand EB to pay my phone bill. It would easily run up to hundreds since it was a roaming call. Well, even if it was only 20cents, it’s the principle that matters.

There is a lesson in all these. I don’t mean to raise my voice, or go to such dramatic lengths to get my cases to be attended to. While I am not exactly the most patient person in the world, I’d like to think that I am fairly reasonable. If a problem in outside one’s circle of influence, I know enough not to create a scene. But, don’t give me such bullsh*t response like “It’s not our problem, it’s _________ problem” or “I don’t know” coz it’s their job to know and to find out. Service oriented organisations should have a Shame Board (instead of just the Rewards Board) and name individuals that have failed in their tasks to provide an acceptable level customer service (let’s not even talk about exceptional level of customer service). If they improve, keep them. If they throw a fit and start giving excuses, all the more reason why they should be on the Shame Board. If they leave, they would have done your organisation A FAVOUR! These 3 are not small organisations, they are public listed companies with thousands if not millions of customers. They should buck up and take responsibility. Isn’t this part of good corporate governance? If this weren’t Malaysia, I would have gone all Republican and demanded the resignations of the Managers in charge.

Think about that.

Ijah, OUT (hungry and still a bit pissed)



Filed under Go Grr...

10 responses to “Customer Service is Dead in Malaysia

  1. rooby

    well ijah i have to agree with you that the customer service in MALAYSIA do suck to its extreme! i just faced a huge disaster which sort of ended yesterday with Courts mammoth n it took them 5 months to resolve the issue…or shall i say not resolved but i gave up on them!! i surely do need to lodge a complaint as well..

    • did you try like what I did with courts? Write directly to the management, its customer service is very slow. I got a response in 10minutes after I did that.

      • The other thing that I wanted to say is, there is an ‘art’ to complaining. I found that sometimes when we are angry, we forget to take down details so when we submit complaints, it seemed like we are being petty because we can’t provide proper information. So always:

        a) Look at your watch to record date and time

        b) Ask the name of the person who attended to you AND the name of his/her supervisor. If he/she is unable to help you, ask to be transferred to be supervisor. If the call is dropped, or the supervisor refused to answer the phone, go further up the chain and ask to speak to the head of customer service. Record the length of time the matter has been ongoing.

        c) Keep the camera function of the mobile phone handy, take pictures – especially if it is a face to face thing.

        d) Put your complaint in writing and send to them, and (important!) cc it to NCCC.

        e) and lastly, DO NOT tolerate or accept bad service. They are paid to provide the service ok, they are not doing it for free.

  2. noor

    ijah, i would like to have the courts mammoth’s email address. I in the same situation which they did not mentioned to me the tv plasma i ordered not in stock. when i called them after 5 days then only they informed me that the item no stock. I bought cash for the tv.

  3. Hi Noor, I don’t have it anymore coz this was 4years ago and I hv terminated the webmail account that I used then. What I remember is I went to the corporate website and searched for the customer service manager (or anyone from the corporate affairs/comm/PR dept) and got a generic email address – but I sent it there nevertheless, knowing that if the email drops into a manager’s inbox, s/he will spring into action because I threaten to fwd the complain to the papers the next day if there is no response. Maybe you can try the same. The courts website was down just now so I could not browse it :-(

  4. Philip

    Great writeup. I agree with you. I have had similar experiences with all kinds of service providers.

  5. CS in Malaysia is still dead in 2013… especially nokia center…

  6. Pingback: Customer service is practically shit in Malaysia. – vsmh96

  7. xiaomei

    I’m Malaysian. I agree that Malaysia cs is dead especially whenever i’m back to country, touchdown the airport, i will have to get use to our rude custom officer.
    All the way util i reach exit of the airport,
    – no staff welcome,
    – never smile and can even keep talking and laughing while settling my bill for duty free items.
    – smelly and dirty toilets

    This poor service really slowdown our productivity. What a shame! I even hope tourist don’t enter our washrooms.

    Sincerely HOPE we will improve one day.

  8. Ahmed

    Bad service still going strong in 2016!(;
    I’m a tourist by the way

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