Tag Archives: Singtel

Starhub Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE Pre-launch Event Feedback

If you have seen my previous post on my experience at Starhub’s Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE pre-launch event, you would have read that I was going to write another post about what went wrong with this event and how it could have been improved. I’ve written the letter below to Starhub’s Customer Service department using the email address: customerservice@starhub.com.

I would suggest that all of you who feel the same way as I do to please contact Starhub at the same email address to voice your concerns and post a comment here as a permanent record for all to see.

Update: Oct 25 – Starhub have replied to my email. See bottom of this post.


Dear Starhub,

I would like to provide some feedback on your recent pre-launch event for the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE.

My existing HTC Desire Z was getting close to two years old and looked rather slow and outdated when compared with my wife’s Samsung Galaxy S III. Thus, when the Samsung Galaxy Note II was announced in August I was looking forward to the arrival of the phone in Singapore and hoping it would be available from Starhub. As soon as I found out about Starhub’s pre-launch event for the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE I registered online and waited for the confirmation email.

Upon receiving the confirmation email I was dismayed to see that I would have to queue with possibly thousands of other loyal customers and that the accessory pack would only be available to the first 1,000 in the queue. I understand that there was limited availability of the accessory pack, but surely Starhub could have allocated the accessory packs to customers who registered first? The people who missed out on the accessory pack could then decide to purchase the phone on the pre-launch day, or wait until a more convenient time.

I understand the desire for some photographs of long queues to show the demand for Starhub’s service and Samsung’s product. However, this could still be achieved by providing an additional incentive to everyone who registered, such as 5 chances to win a $200 Starhub voucher for the first 500 people in the queue. This approach provides an incentive to queue for the people who received the accessory pack notification and those who did not. What’s more it’s a case of under promising and over delivering. Whereas what actually happened was the exact opposite.

Further, the confirmation email failed to provide a few critical pieces of information:

  • Were there enough phones to cover the presumably more than 1,000 people who indicated they would like to get the phone?
  • How would the queueing system work?
  • In the terms and conditions there was no stated cost for the micro-SIM.

Luckily I was free on Friday and able to come to Plaza Singapura to check out the queue at around 3 pm. At that stage the queue had split into two parts, the first by the Starhub area in the atrium and the second along the old Carrefour entrance. I still hadn’t decided to join the queue, but I’d rather join a queue in an air conditioned shopping centre than being stuck outside, so I asked the staff monitoring the end of queue 1 what would happen when queue 2 filled up. The staff had no idea and said they would have to wait for instructions from management.

If Starhub is holding an event where thousands of people will gather at a shopping centre I would think it prudent to hold a staff briefing before the event. This allows everyone to understand what the plan is for the event, what their own responsibilities are and to ask questions to clarify any details. If everyone knows the plan then anyone can communicate the relevant information to customers, or at least know who can answer the customer’s question.

I decided to walk around Plaza Singapura for a while to determine how fast the queue was forming. Upon seeing that the second queue had already grown significantly when I returned I decided to do a quick head count and work out how long I’d need to wait. With twenty counters at the Starhub area in the atrium I concluded that at 15 minutes a customer the maximum processing rate would be 80 customers an hour. With more than 100 people in the queue I would have to join the queue now, at 15:30, or risk being at Plaza Singapura until the wee hours of the morning.

This begs the question, of how on earth Starhub planned to process a minimum of 1,000 customers with 20 counters? That’s twelve and a half hours! I’m sure that Starhub monitors the average processing times for different services at its service centres and would know full well that 15 minutes is probably being generous by the time you deal with customer questions, trade-ins, etc. Quite frankly, from this point alone, the planning team appears completely incompetent.

While waiting to purchase my phone a lady re-organised the queue with the help of junior staff. This was a positive step to try and maximise the space inside the shopping centre. Later on in the evening we were supplied with some food and water, which was thoughtful, but would have been unnecessary with better planning.

At around 18:35 a staff member started to hand out tickets with queue numbers and asked us to walk around the shopping centre until our number was called. This was an excellent idea that relieved sore bottoms, tired legs, full bladders and hungry stomachs! However, why couldn’t this have been done at 18:00 or even before hand?

I quickly ate some dinner and came down to see that the queue numbers were indeed being processed at roughly the rate I had calculated. I then sat down in a cafe next to a fellow Starhub customer who shared similar frustrations that I have expressed here, as did the majority of other people I talked to on the evening.

After overstaying my welcome in the cafe I decided to look at the length of the queue and whether it was outside. To my dismay hundreds of people were waiting outside Plaza Singapura. I talked to the people at the front of the queue and asked them if they knew what was happening. No one had talked to them, so they had no idea what was going on! I told them what I knew, including the current queue number and roughly how fast it was moving.

Eventually my queue number appeared on the screens and I received my phone at 21:28 (according to my receipt). The lady at counter 13 was very pleasant and helpful. Upon investigating my package I found, to my dismay, that the accessory pack was not even available at the event. This was the justification for waiting for 6 hours and I have to wait almost a month to collect it from Samsung?! How many people would have waited for such a long time if they had known that the accessory kit required another trip into town and another queue? I certainly would not have bothered.

This brings me to Starhub’s communication for the event. From the initial email to the responses on Starhub’s Facebook page, communication was unco-ordinated, incomplete or mostly non-existant. This resulted in thousands of people spending their valuable time confused and frustrated. From Starhub’s Facebook page I even noticed that someone received their phone at 5:30 am after queueing for 12 hours and another gave up after 8 hours! Better communication would have allowed customers to make informed decisions about whether it was worth it to join or even remain in the queue.

Singapore is a stressful enough place as it is and there have been demands from the government to increase productivity and try and promote a better work/life balance. Starhub has clearly disregarded this call and angered many loyal customers by wasting hours of their time, all for the purpose of creating a photo opportunity.

Starhub’s mismanagement of the pre-launch event for the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE demonstrates unprofessionalism. This is further highlighted by the successful execution of a similar event by Singtel. Starhub needs to learn from the poor planning and execution of this event to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Finally, I’ve found Starhub’s customer service has improved over the last two years, especially the technical support and commitments from staff to call back at agreed times. I trust that this letter has provided some constructive criticism which will result in ongoing improvements in customer service and satisfaction.

Update: Oct 25 – Here is Starhub’s reply to the above email…

Thank you for writing to us with your concerns.

We are sorry for the inconvenience you faced in this matter. For the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE pre-launch special event, we decided to explore a new way to serve our customers. We admit that our usual decentralised approach, where we allowed customers to make purchase at multiple outlets across Singapore, is more efficient.

Please rest assured that we have learnt from this episode, and will aim to offer our customers a better user experience with StarHub. We thank everyone for your patience and support for StarHub.

If you have any questions, please e-mail to this address or fax in to 6720 5000.  We will be glad to assist you.

That looks like a pretty standard reply for everyone who complained about this event, but at least there is an acceptance of a better way of doing the event and that they have learned from it. I would have to say it’s a typical statement that you would expect to see from a big company, where there is no fault or blame put on anyone, just the “not as efficient” nonsense. Everyone gets to save face, as they say.

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!