Some, or maybe most of us, are bound with mobile plan contract with Starhub for up-to 2 years, where during this contractual period, we are NOT allowed to make any changes, especially downgrading our mobile plan. I believe such binding also applicable both subscriber and provider. Hence, it is only FAIR if the new changes "1 minute MIN local call charge" only applicable for those who no longer has contract with Starhub.
Starhub must honour all contracts signed before 1 May 2013, including its exisiting per second billing, because it is also part of the contract, and that's what we signed for. If now Starhub unilateraly changes from per second to 1 minute MIN charge, then in my opinion, Starhub has breach its own contract. Therefore, am I right to say that the contract will be voided and subscriber will then have the same right to terminate the service without any penalty?
My point is very simple:
This minimun call charge is not stated inside my 2 years mobile plan contract which I signed on Dec 2012. What stated in that contract is per second billing and it should stay that way until Dec 2014, when the contract expire. Any changes with the contract, should only applicable after its ended, otherwise considered as breach of contract.
Like boen, I too am disturbed by the high handed manner Starhub is behaving with regards to the new minimum 1 minute call charge.
I have been a Starhub customer for over a decade, starting back when I was a Singapore Cable Vision (SCV) user. In the early days, there was no tier or groups to choose from; you paid a basic subscription and got all the channels except for the premium channels like HBO.
Later on, after Starhub acquired SCV, the channel groups model was introduced. While one could save some money on their monthly subscription with the new scheme, the tradeoff was that you actually end up paying more if you watch channels across the different groups. Starhub then allowed one to maintain their legacy subscription if they wished to.
Fast forward to 2012, when the 3 telcos decided en masse to reduce our data entitlement from over 10GB to around 2-3GB. None of the telcos dared to unilaterally do so for fear of consumer backlash and probably attract IDA intervention (like the ongoing EPL soccer saga). The new data limit only came in if one signed up for a new contract with the new terms.
In a reply to Straits Times Forum on 10 May 13 (and in this forum), Starhub claims that they are forced by business costs to do so. More tellingly, they referred to their General Terms and Conditions and stated that regardless of what the public thinks, they are actually entitled to raise charges and tariffs as and when they saw fit.
If so, why did Starhub allow cable TV subscribers to keep their legacy plans all those many years ago? And why did they not strongarm subscribers into accepting a lower data cap in 2012, if they have such strong legal grounds?
If Starhub was challenged legally, the contractual clause giving them carte blanche to vary their tariffs and charges unfairly may not be upheld and they would be forced to back down and very likely pay costs and damages.
The issue should not be confused by issues like if business costs are really rising, if other telcos will soon follow suit or if taxi fares are going up. This is an issue about Starhub's contractual agreement with their subscribers.
It is true that no one forced the subscribers to sign on the dotted line despite the clause allowing Starhub to increase their charges at their whim and fancy. However, similar onerous clauses have repeatedly been struck down during legal suits all over the world.
While I cannot predict if this will be the case for Singapore, boen's point is that this is a matter of fairness and principle and subscribers should fight for their rights. If not, who will do it?
I have been with StarHub since Day 1, when they started Telco business & I started having a handphone line. I ever had 4 mobile lines, 2 cable broadband lines, 2 digital voice lines & 1 cable TV. I enjoyed the benefits that came with it including regularly redeeming HubClub reward points. But during recent years, StarHub have quietly taken away the benefits we usually enjoyed before one after another. You guys may not be awared of it, here are some:-
- Started charging for Digital Voice, which was free for hubclub members even though they are earning from VAS.
- Took away early recontract benefit for higher-tier plans.
- No more free modem rental. They gave you free and once out of order, you have to buy one.
- Made you to pay more reward points to redeem the same item as before. And worst for me, they made almost 90% of those reward items out of stock for my redeeming. (Maybe they hate the customers who redeem regularly)
- Now, 1 min minimum call charge.
- Worst of all, poorer and poorer customer service both at 1633 hotline and customer service centres. They treat you like someone coming for free lunch.
- I never receive any vouchers even though I have a couple of higher-tier plans (I know friends using other telcos regularly receiving vouchers)
There may be more. I felt like StarHub now hates having loyer costomers like us. That is why I am migrating all my subcriptions one by one to M1 who seems to be dolling out much better offers nowadays including remains staicked to per-second billing, a feature which used to be the hallmark and winning formular of StarHub before and pulling hundreds of thousands of subscribers to them. Bye bye, StarHub.