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Telco Singtel will be taking disciplinary action against a retailer after lapses were found in the way it handled a woman's transaction.
The situation came to light when the woman's daughter, Yeo Hui Ting, posted what happened on her Facebook page.
Her mother had visited Novel Communication, a Singtel exclusive retailer located at Northpoint City, to have her mobile plan re-contracted.
She came home with a Samsung J3 Pro phone, happy to have paid just $48 for it.
As Hui Ting helped her mother to set up her new phone, she grew puzzled as to why she had come back with a lower-end Samsung model with a smaller screen compared to her mother's previous Samsung Note 4.
She then decided to take a closer look at the invoice.
It showed that the unit price of the Samsung J3 Pro was $198 and the amount paid was $48.
However, the total amount at the bottom of the invoice was $1,346, which did not tally.
There was also a trade-in form that showed a cashback amount of $198 which further perplexed Hui Ting because her mother had not traded in any phone and told her she had not received any cash back from the retailer.
When Hui Ting flipped over to see the re-contract details, a note is handwritten on the side: "Customer agree [sic] to trade back Apple iPhone X 64GB."
She went back to the outlet with her mother to speak to the manager who told them that the iPhone X was in the contract because the Samsung J3 Pro is not offered under any Singtel plan.
The staffer they spoke to said that they offered it because her mother wanted to get a free or cheap phone that came with a re-contract plan.
Hui Ting wrote in her post:
"Given the above scenario, Novel Communication took the opportunity to use my mum's recontract plan to get an iPhone X 64 GB (highest value phone in the market) from Singtel and pushed the kuching kurak phone to my mum!"
"Using her plan, top up is at $1,100 for iPhone X 64GB. After deducting the $150 recontract voucher, nett top up at $950. Sell the iPhone X 64GB at market value of $1,598. WOAH! $648 PROFIT FROM ANOTHER CLUELESS AUNTIE!"
The shop's staff said that this way of dealing is called a "trade back agreement" and Singtel is aware of this practice.
In the end, they returned the Samsung phone and got back a $48 refund.
However, they still had to pay for the new SIM card and service activation fee which cost a separate $48.15.
In response to a Stomp media query, a Singtel spokesman said they have investigated the matter:
"Protecting our customers' best interests is our top priority.
"To safeguard the sales process, customers at any of our shops are required to sign an agreement that clearly states all the transaction details.
"They will also receive an SMS alert that provides details of the handset model, price plan and date.
“We have investigated the issue raised by Ms Yeo Hui Ting and found lapses in the way our appointed retailer, Novel Communication, handled her mother’s transaction. We will be taking immediate disciplinary action against the retailer.
We regret the inconvenience caused and have since been in touch with Ms Yeo to redress the matter.”
Novel Communication has also issued a public apology to the customer on their Facebook page.
"We apologise to Ms Yeo for the confusion and inconvenience caused by our inexperienced salesperson who attended to her mother, Mdm Lim, when she recently visited our shop to re-contract her mobile plan.
"During the transaction, our salesperson did not provide clear explanation to Mdm Lim and made mistakes on the invoice.
"We are sorry that our staff did not follow our standard operating procedures to help the customer and have taken corrective action."