Now that I have “collected” more bizzare real-life conversations with Singaporeans, I’d like to continue my series on it, just for fun, and just to make a point that Singapore’s organized, efficient, speedy image is overrated.
A phone conversation between my friend, who is about to move out of Singapore, with Singtel customer service:
My friend: Excuse me, I would like to pay the rest of my cable TV subscription in advance because I’m leaving the country for good in three weeks’ time
Customer service then asked her name and account number to confirm the subscription …
Customer service: Ma’am, our record states that your contract will not expire until three months from now. This means you are breaking the contract, and a S$600 fine will be imposed if you do this.
My friend: But this doesn’t make sense! I know I have three months left in my subscription, and I’m happy to pay $60 monthly subscription for three months in advance. Charging S$600 fine is just baseless!
Customer service: Sorry Ma’am that’s the rule….
My friend: Oh, well, in that case, since you’re not willing to take my advance payment on my remaining three months subscription, I will just not pay anything. Zero!
Customer service: Ma’am, you can’t do that
My friend: Oh yes I can! I’m leaving the country anyway
Customer service: Ma’am, you cannot! It is a CRIMINAL OFFENSE to do it!
My friend: Oh, well, then, take my &%(#*@# $180 payment, or I will just leave the country without paying!!!!!
Customer service: Sorry Ma’am. As I said, if you break away from your contract early, a $600 fine will be imposed. The system wouldn’t let me to do anything but that.
My friend: LOOK! One more time…. I am here not to tell you that I want to cancel my subscription three months early. I want to give you advance payment for the remaining three months of my account. My subscription costs $60 per month, so I WANT TO PAY $180 in advance, before I fly off! WHICH PART OF THAT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND??????
Customer service: Ma’am, it is a CRIME to avoid paying the $600 fine!
My friend: Well, fine then! Call the police, tell them to stand by at the airport on the day that I leave because this is ridiculous and I’m not taking anymore of this c##&*p!!!!!
She hung up the phone, deciding that she won’t bother paying, until a few days later the Customer Service Manager of Singtel rang her, apologized profusely, and said to her that making an advance payment is not an issue at all
A conversation I overheard between a visa officer in the Korean embassy and a Singaporean man:
The Singaporean man is applying for visa for his whole family to visit Korea. He was at the counter, showing various documents, and then the visa officer said:
Visa officer: Sir, you need to also submit your bank statements for the last three months
Singaporean man: Whaaa??? What for aahhh?
Visa officer: it’s stated in our requirement, Sir, to prove that you will be able to fully pay the costs of this trip
Note from me: In my 20-years experience in applying for visas, just about every single embassy requires bank statements, especially when you come from Asia, Africa or Latin America.
Singaporean man: THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!! If I can pay for my family’s tickets and the tours, of course I have enough money to cover the trip!!!!!
Visa officer: Sorry sir, I still cant’ accept your application without it.
Singaporean man: What rule is this hahhh???? I have never heard of such foolish rule!!!! …
He got angry to the point where he pointed finger at the soft-spoken visa officer and even hit the glass wall that separates the visa officers and the visa applicants. The visa officer just sat there quietly, not returning a single word. After this man got tired (and his wife got really embarrassed), the wife hurled the man out of the room, bringing peace and quiet back 🙂
And I, who was standing at the next counter to collect my visa, thought, “He either has never been overseas before, borrowed money for the trip, or maybe he keeps all his money under his mattress and has no bank records ….”
And from just the two examples above, I can’t help but thinking, “Funny how Singaporeans make all kinds of outrageous rules and tell people that they can’t deviate from it, but go berserk when other authorities impose their rules on them ….”