Category Archives: Travel

Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE – Starhub Registration and the Queue!

After receiving the email yesterday and deciding to come down and check out the queue today I can say that this would have to be an absolute disaster in terms of Starhub’s organisation of the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE registration process. If you have read Starhub’s Facebook page it would appear that a large number of people are agreeing with my assessment!

At first appearances it doesn’t look too bad. As you can see from the photo below there is a special Starhub area in the middle of Plaza Singapura at taxi stand end. To the right you can see the queue of people forming. Alas, that is just queue number 1!

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II Queue One at Plaza Singapura

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II Queue One at Plaza Singapura

Starhub has a couple of staff checking people’s paperwork and directing them towards the 2nd queue.

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II - Front of Queue Two at Plaza Singapura

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II – Front of Queue Two at Plaza Singapura

I went to get some supplies, which I wish included a chair because the floor is damn hard and I haven’t had to sit like this since I was in primary school! Anyway, this is the view of the registration area.

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II - Registration Area

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II – Registration Area

Supplies in hand (two bottles of water and some chocolate!) I joined the queue. I can’t believe I am doing this, but I guess at least I can tell the grand children that I queued up to get one of those devices when we are taking them around the museum!

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II - My View of the Queue

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II – My View of the Queue

The queue has of course grown massively since I joined. There is a pattern of the people slowly sitting down the longer they are in the queue, so most of the people you see in this photo are now sitting!

I just had to have “words” with a chap who decided to occupy the gap between where I am sitting and the lady standing in front of me. I think he got the hint from the glares of everyone else who was looking at him while I pointed him to the back of the line.

For some reason we are now all standing and starting to move in the queue. I can see the registration area now, but nothing is happening there. I think they are just rearranging the queue. Now I see queue 3! We have been rearranged with some extra helper staff to send people in the right directions.

15:45 – I’ll update this post as the day goes on.

17:00 – Not much to report. People are leaving the queue for toilet breaks and to get food, asking their queue neighbour to remember them when they return. The registration area is a flurry of activity with staff all at their laptops. The screens are on to display the queue numbers and allocated counter. Meanwhile we just wait for our chance to get our hands on the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE.

17:45 – The queue is moving!

18:05 – We have moved a couple of times now, but I can’t see where the people at the front have moved to. I guess they just joined queues one and two together. Here is an a photo I just took of everyone standing and waiting.

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II - Queue at Plaza Singapura at 6 pm

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II – Queue at Plaza Singapura at 6 pm

Cameras have been flashing at the registration area, but there isn’t much action on the screens showing the queue numbers.

Starhub did provide some simple snacks and water which was thoughtful.

18:10 – The queue numbers are filling up the screens slowly, so it looks like things are moving!

I am almost out of battery, so I’ll have to post again when I get home later tonight.

19:40 – Well I’m sitting in Gloria Jean’s cafe having a cup of tea and recharging my laptop without my new Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE from Starhub. That might sound like a disaster, but Starhub actually did something sensible finally and gave out queue numbers in advance. Thus, I had the time to grab a bite to eat at Thai Express and rush back to see that they had only processed around 25 people. I think they started at 8000 on the ticket numbers and mine is 8135. That means I have time to sit down, enjoy a cup of tea and admire the scenery.

The queue must have gone all the way outside the building, but I haven’t bothered to wander along it and see where it ends. I’m just thankful I’m not at the end of the queue!

Here are the Starhub staff hard at work!

Starhub Employees at Work - Samsung Galaxy Note II Pre-Launch

Starhub Employees at Work – Samsung Galaxy Note II Pre-Launch

I’d better go and check the queue numbers!

20 Oct, 11:50 am – I have my phone, but the experience to get it was totally unsatisfactory. Starhub have really annoyed a lot of customers with their inept planning and execution of the pre-launch event. I’m going to write another post specifically about what went wrong and how it could have been easily rectified.

I paid for my phone at 21:28 pm, which means my queue number must have come up at around 21:15. I must say that the lady at counter 13 was very professional, pleasant and deserves to be praised as a wonderful Starhub employee. Unfortunately I didn’t get her name. That 15 minutes of good customer service momentarily appeased my fuming anger and frustration at the worst planned event I’ve ever attended in my life.

Unfortunately that anger and frustration resurfaced as soon as I opened the letter explaining how to retrieve the accessory gift pack. I have to go to the Samsung Mobile Phone Customer Care Centre in Orchard Road between November 17 – December 16, 2012. That is nearly one month after I’ve purchased the Samsung Galaxy Note II!

In every communication it was implied that the accessory gift pack would be available at the pre-launch event and was the main point of even queueing to be the first 1,000 elligible customers. If they had made it clear that the accessory gift pack would not be available until the middle of November I simply would not have even bothered to turn up.

Here are some photos of the queue outside Plaza Singapura that I took while I was waiting for my queue number to appear on the screens.

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE Pre-launch - Start of queue outside Plaza Singapura

Start of queue outside Plaza Singapura

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE Pre-launch - Queue outside Plaza Singapura

Queue outside Plaza Singapura

The people in the queue had no communication of what was going on inside, or what the overall process would be. A complete and utter failure of customer service and communication.

I’m very happy with the phone so far, but I must say that I’m seriously considering my loyalty to Starhub after this fiasco. I believe my cable television and internet is now out of contract, but I am tied to this new phone and my wife’s Samsung Galaxy S III for another two years. I think I might re-contract my internet soon, so that in 2 years time I can move everything to another provider if Starhub doesn’t issue a formal apology and compensation for this ridiculous event.

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE Promotion

Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE – Starhub Registration and Price Plans

I was lucky enough to see a post on a local forum (Xtremeplace) about the registration of interest announcement for the new Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE. The post included links for all three Singapore telecommunication companies, so I clicked on the Starhub link and filled in my details. The confirmation email mentioned I would receive an email with further details in around a week’s time and today I received that email! Starhub also sent out an SMS alert to notify me about the email a while after I received the email.

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE Promotion

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE Promotion

Here is the text of the email:

Dear ,

Thank you for registering your interest in the new Samsung GALAXY Note II LTE with StarHub. We are pleased to inform you that you have been given the opportunity to be one of the first to own the phone with a 2-year mobile phone package. To qualify, simply be the first 1000 customers to be in queue at Plaza Singapura Atrium on 19 Oct, Friday, from 6pm.

What’s more, you’ll get an accessories pack worth $202 absolutely FREE!

Accessories Pack includes:

  • Flip cover
  • Protective back cover
  • Car adaptor
  • Portable battery pack

Plus, stand a chance to win a pair of SMTOWN LIVE WORLD TOUR III in SINGAPORE concert tickets worth $336 in our instant lucky dip.

To enjoy this exclusive offer, please bring along a print-out of this mailer with your NRIC/FIN and present them to our sales consultants at the point of purchase.

Once again, thank you for your interest. We look forward to serving you soon.

The pricing information can be found on Stahub’s website, but I’ll reproduce it here:

SmartSurf Lite $38/month SmartSurf Value $58/month SmartSurf Premium $98/month SmartSurf Elite $205/month
$568 $298 $98 $98

Now surely Starhub have made a mistake here by not offering the phone for $0 for the SmartSurf Elite plan? It definitely looks suspicious when you compare SingTel’s pricing:

Flexi Lite $39.90/month Flexi Value $59.90/month Flexi Plus $99.90/month Flexi Premium $205/month
$568 $288 $98 $0

Looking at Starhub’s terms and conditions I see that there will be some extra charges to change from my regular SIM to a microSIM, but the fee is not listed!

Now, I don’t know how many people actually registered their interest for the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE, but I’m sure it’s more than 1,000 customers! That means that I’m going to have to interrupt my day and queue for hours to make sure I get this deal. Oh well, I guess I can go into town for lunch and hang around Plaza Singapura while doing some work. Luckily I can work anywhere, thanks to the internet.

With respect to the lucky draw, I honestly had no idea what SMTOWN LIVE WORLD TOUR III was all about, so I had to google that. It turns out that SMTOWN is the name of a music label and they get a few of their acts together for a world tour every now and then. Girl’s Generation seems to be a certain feature, which would be enough to get me going in more ways than one!

I’ve been looking forward to changing to the new Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE since it was announced. My HTC Desire Z is still a reasonable phone for day to day use, but it can’t run the latest version of Android and lacks LTE, NFC and other general improvements found on the latest models. While I love the physical keyboard, some of the keys are starting to fail, so it’s time to try the dreaded touch screen keyboards and the handwriting recognition with the stylus/S-pen. That means I’ll be in the queue with everyone else tomorrow to get my new Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE!


Improving Singapore – Consumer Pricing Policies

When living in any country for a period of time you will find some things that start to annoy you. This is especially so if what you experience in your current country of residence has already been “fixed” in another country that you have lived in. Soon you find yourself wishing that the government would change its policies or introduce new ones to improve your own life and hopefully that of other residents.

After eight years in Singapore I have a few things on my list of possible improvements that I’d like to share on my blog. Hopefully a local politician will read this and think my ideas make for great policy! Well, maybe not, but since I can’t vote, it’s the best way to voice my opinion that I can think of.

I’ll create separate blog entries for each idea, enabling comments to remain focused on an individual subject, rather than involving a few suggestions in one post.

The first problem is around pricing of goods and services related to hotels and F&B (food and beverage) outlets in Singapore. When you first arrive in Singapore you will hear the term “plus, plus” in reference to prices in these establishments. One “plus” refers to the 7% GST and the other to the 10% service charge. This means that you can find what looks like a great deal at a restaurant, but then realise you have to add 17% of “plus, plus” charges to the bill before making a comparison.

The interesting this is that all other GST businesses that charge GST have to show GST inclusive prices, but because hotels and F&B outlets include the service charge they are exempt because of “operational difficulties.”

Singapore recently forced travel agents and airlines to include all taxes and other charges in the advertised price which makes life much easier for the consumer. Therefore, I fail to understand what the “operational difficulties” are for hotels and F&B outlets that force an exemption for displaying consumer friendly prices.

The second problem is about the use, or rather lack of, unit pricing in supermarkets. Consumers can save time and easily determine the true value of a product by comparing its unit price on the displayed shelf label, rather than calculating it on the fly. This is useful because competitive products in the same category are often of different weights/volumes, making price comparisons more difficult than they need to be. For example, if one brand of orange juice comes in a 2L carton and another in 1.89L then the unit price can be displayed as $x.xx per 100 ml.

Even the same product can have different sizes that seem purposely created to make price comparisons a mental challenge. I’ve seen a couple of situations where specials have made it cheaper to buy two of the small volume product rather than one larger volume product! So much for saving the environment with less packaging and waste.

Unit pricing has been introduced in Australia and clearly makes it far easier to spot a bargain when comparing the products on a shelf.

If Singapore would introduce these two pricing policy changes I think that it would help reduce my personal annoyance level and hopefully that of others living in Singapore too. Although my wife says “that’s useless for us Chinese, because we are all good at maths anyway.”