Ijah and Poor Customer Service Again

Of recent times I have become adept at writing complaint letters. After the back to back incidences with Nokia (in)Competent Centre, EON Bank and Courts Mammoth, I resolved to pursue every bad customer service experience to whatever end that I can.

In recent times I had the displeasure of running into rude and condescending staff AND management of Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel (they merit a special standlone blogpost of their own, which I will do soon) and a slightly more refined experience, albeit still an uncomfortable one, with The Carat Club at Pavillion.

But what I am writing tonight is a specific experience with the Building Management of my apartment complex. As I have to protect my privacy and cannot reveal where I live, I can only reveal the general location.

I stay in Sunway, in one of the apartment complexes that are clustered in PJS 10. There are about 5 different complexes altogether, namely Ridzuan Condominium, SubangVille Ehsan, Damai, Makmur and Kayangan and all are supervised by the same Building Management (I don’t recall the name right now but the Tel no is : 03-56315984).

Before the incident today, we have had a run-in with the guard about a year ago. We are given a designated parking space complete with the number of our unit painted on the spot. One night, my sister came home to find a sprawling Perdana parked there. She then parked her car beside it at the visitor’s parking area. The next morning, her car was clamped! The guard insisted that she could not park overnight and she had to pay RM50 to get the car un-clamped. She then pointed out that another car was illegally parked at our spot and the guard should take off the clamp and put it on THAT car instead.

This argument went back and forth several times, with voices rising higher and higher. In the end my sister insisted on speaking to their supervisor – and of course they said no. After a while they agreed to unclamp her car though under much protest. Strangely they did not clamp the Perdana that was STILL illegally parked at our spot!! The car didn’t even have the apartment sticker so it should have not been allowed to come into the compound at all. Grr.

The next day upon coming home from work at about 7-ish, I saw the same car still parked at the spot albeit at a different angle. That means the owner must have gone out and then came back and re-parked at the spot. I called the guard and enquired why he allowed the car to park there.

He confidently said, this is the tenant of that unit so he has the right to park here. I blew up immediately. I mean, if you want to lie, at least find a smart lie. I said, why don’t you follow me to the unit now and we’ll see who lives there. I also pointed out that the car didn’t even have a sticker. I then took photograph of the car, told the guard to stand beside the car so that I could take his picture, and then asked him for his full name and IC number. He started to stammer and looked around nervously and then assured me that he would get the car moved out immediately. The next morning the car was gone. I haven’t had any problems with parking since.

Now, as to the incident that happened today. Last night around 11-ish, a guy came to our door and introduced himself as En Hamzah. He demanded entry into the house claiming that he wanted to check our master bedroom’s bathroom. Apparently his unit that is immediately below us is having leaking plumbing that he believes is caused by my bathroom. Of course my sister denied him entry. After all, he didn’t have any identification, just a crummy business card that says Hamzah (no full name) and two handphone numbers. No address, no company name, no nothing.

As I was going to work this morning, my sister gave me the card. I texted En Hamzah and told him that we would like to resolve this but if he wanted to come and inspect, he has to come with Building Management because we will not entertain any tom, dick and harry that suddenly come to our door. He agreed to come at 11am and assured me that Building Management will be there. I then called my sister to let her know of the arrangements

Around 11am, my sister called and said the Building Management guy, this Herman fella, wants to talk to me. He said (in a very condescending tone) there is no drain cover in our bathroom so the leaking pipe downstairs must have been caused by our hair and other alien matters that flowed into the drain. He then instructed us to repair it immediately or he will cut off our water supply by 10am tomorrow (May 6). I told him to hold on and attempted to explain that we are renting the unit and that our landlord is very particular about contractors. Therefore we needed more time to sort this out with her as she may insist on using her own plumber and I could not control what time the plumber could come.

Herman rudely cut me off and said it is not his problem and he doesn’t care if I am the landlord, or the tenant, or if the house belongs to my cousin (yes he said cousins) et cetera, since I didn’t have any drain covers I am to fix the problem. How, he doesn’t care, as long as it is fixed before 10am tomorrow. I then asked him for the estimates and he said he doesn’t know as it is not his job to fix the problem.

At this juncture, 2 things came to my mind. One, Herman is a jerk – he was not trying to solve the problem, he just wanted to push his weight around. Two, Herman is obviously not qualified to make any assessment whatsoever of the plumbing situation coz his diagnosis was a stupid one. So I decided to end the call by telling him that we will get our contractor to come in immediately. My sister then made the arrangements.

This was what we found out: En Hamzah had done new plumbing works in his bathroom that completely bypassed the old plumbing system. The contractor then insisted on seeing En Hamzah’s bathroom as he could not find any problem with ours. Guess what, En Hamzah said he can’t come. He claimed that we can only meet up at 6pm as he was working. I told him I needed to resolve this immediately as I didn’t want my water supply to be cut off. Then he said something that shocked me. He said that the cutting off the water supply is HIS OWN PERSONAL ARRANGEMENT WITH HERMAN (the Building Management rep). I expressed my shock and asked him how he could do that when there hasn’t been proper assessment of the cause and damage to the pipes. Then he said, and I will remember this, IT IS MY RIGHT.

My questions are:

  1. If the problem has not been determined, how could a representative from BuildingManagement threatened me, in such a rude manner in fact, that my water supply will be cut? Wouldn’t it only be fair that an independent contractor is called to inspect both units and confirm what the problem is?
  2. How could Herman and En Hamzah make the decision to cut off my water supply by 10.00am tomorrow at their own discretion? En Hamzah told me that it was “his right” to do that. Does a tenant have a right to demand for another tenant’s water supply to be cut off and why did the Building Management’s rep agree to this? The Building Management should have properly investigated the problem then act as a neutral mediator instead of siding with one party.
  3. Is a tenant allowed to do their own plumbing works that bypasses the old main plumbing system without the consent or approval from Building Management? If yes, and this new system causes leaking or blockage to the old system, it is my opinion that we should not be blamed or penalized for it. The responsible tenant should bear the cost of repairs himself as well as the cost for inspection by the independent contractor.

I immediately called my sister and asked for the Building Management’s number. My phone call was answered by a lady named Izan. I asked to speak to the manager but she refused to put me through, saying that “saya takutlah” (I am scared). I asked her why would she be scared. I have a valid complaint and I should be attended to. So she should either put me through to the manager or I will go down to her office and kick down his door (exaggeration. I didn’t actually say that but you know what I mean).

She then gave me his name, but refused to give his full name until I raised my voice and told her not to fuck around with me. I got her to spell the name out (it was LOW TONG YOU) and she (reluctantly) gave me the fax number. I then proceeded to write a complaint letter, cc it to FOMCA and printed a copy to put in En Hamzah’s mailbox so that he knows that I am formally investigating this matter. I also text him to tell him the gist of the letter. My letter states that (I copy and paste from the actual letter):

  1. If the problem is verified and confirmed to be caused by us, we will bear all cost of repairs and inspection and get it rectified as soon as possible. However since we are unable to inspect the unit below until later in the evening, I would like the Building Management’s assurance that my water supply will not be cut at any point whatsoever until we can resolve this problem amicably.
  2. If the problem is caused by the tenant’s new plumbing works, I would take necessary and available recourse to get them to pay all fees incurred in the matter including the inspection and repairs, if any. Should the tenant refuse and/or delay the payment, I would request for Building Management’s assistance in ensuring prompt action is taken such as issuing them a warning letter and/or cutting off their water supply until all payment is made.
  3. In addition to item (2), if the new plumbing works were indeed made without the consent or approval of Building Management, I would request for Building Management to take appropriate action against the tenant for abuse of shared services and inconveniencing other tenants in the block.

In less than 10 minutes my mobile phone rang. I was on the other line so could not pick it up. I returned call immediately and the person who answered (who did not give me his name by the way) said Mr Low would like to speak to me but he’s in a meeting. That is suspicious coz I returned the call like 5 seconds after it stopped ringing. He then said asked for En Hamzah’s number (I pointed out that I had put in En Hamzah’s number in the letter) and said that the Building Management will investigate this matter fairly and will be there to accompany the inspection by the contractor at 6pm.

At 6.52pm I called my sister to follow-up. She said BOTH En Hamzah nor Building Management did not turn up, citing that they have emergency meetings (both have emergency meetings on the same evening at the same exact moment. What an amazing coincidence). No surprise, right? The contractor then inspected both bathrooms. Here are the findings:

  1. Their plumbing system was damaged a long time ago and not recently. The tenants claimed that the have complained to En Hamzah many times but he did not take any actions. They got very angry a few days ago when the spillage intensified and became smelly. It was only then that En Hamzah proceeded to talk to us and demanded for us to pay for the damages.
  2. There were modifications to the plumbing and bypassing of piping. The original parts were nowhere to be seen.
  3. There were cracks in the plumbing that could have been caused by the unit upstairs hitting the plumbing system during blockage, but the cracks also appeared to be old. As we have only occupied unit above in the past 2 years, such cracks could not have been caused by us.

Verdict? I’m supposed to pay for THESE?!! The problem lies with the unit itself. I then called En Hamzah. No answer. Of course. I then texted him the findings. No reply as well. I wrote a follow-up letter to Building Management, again cc FOMCA with a printed version stuffed into En Hamzah’s mailbox. The letter states (actual copy):

With the findings from the contractor:

  1. We believe there are no basis for the claim ergo no grounds for us pay for any repairs or whatsoever to Unit 312C as so claimed by En En Hamzah. If he still would like to pursue this, we invite him to put forward his case to the Claims Tribunal and use whatever legal actions or means necessary for him to get damages to be awarded to him through the tribunal system.
  2. With reference to above, we insist for an OFFICIAL APOLOGY from the Building Management and Herman for being rude and threatening to cut off our water supply based on hearsay. It is shameful and inappropriate for Building Management to resort to such tactics without even properly investigating the case and for having such poor customer service level. People like Herman should be re-trained or prohibited from dealing with tenants as he did not display any courteous manners or common sense. His behaviour was tantamount to harassment and showed great disrespect towards women.
  3. We invite the Building Managemen and En Hamzah to appoint their own contractor to do the inspection if they would like to get a second opinion. But all future communications must be in writing so that it is properly documented.

I haven’t heard a peep from either En Hamzah or the Building Management since then. I consider that a victory, although an apology would have been more satisfying.

So? Customer service is STILL dead in Malaysia. Unfortunately, so is courtesy. People are rude and stupid when they speak when they think they are superior to others. Whether my mama taught me manners or otherwise, I have enough sense to know that things can be resolved without shouting or name calling. I wish more Malaysian would learn that. Or have that driven into their dumb skulls. But the night is young so this may not be the end of this drama. But at least tonight I scored a little victory and that is good.

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