Unfair and improper terms of offer in new Astro Emperor Package

Press Statement
by John Chung

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd, the provider of ASTRO services owes an explanation to subscribers for its unfair and improper terms of offer in the newly introduced Emperor Package.

In a March 2003 letter to subscribers of ASTRO Dynasty Package signed by Mr. Chia Boon Lim, Executive Director of MEASAT, subscribers are informed that they would be offered free viewing of three new channels under the Emperor Package. The three channels are Channels 37 and 38 for Shuang Xing and Channel 39 for Celestial Movies.

Subscribers are told that if they want to take advantage of the exclusive offer, they only need to fill up the enclosed response form and send it to MEASAT before April 21, 2003. However, subscribers are also asked to take note that if MEASAT do not hear from them by the specified date, their current subscription would be automatically upgraded to include the Emperor package with effect from May 2003 which would cause them an additional RM30.

Such automatic upgrading of the customers' subscription is unfair and improper as it is tantamount to imposing the new package on them without their direct or expressed consent. MEASAT cannot and should not conveniently assume that subscribers who do not inform MEASAT are agreeable to take up the Emperor package.

As a basic rule, customers should always be given the right to indicate whether they want to take up a particular offer and not the other way round. If the customer does not demand for a particular product or service, the service provider cannot simply deem that the offer is taken up. Silence does not mean consent.

Therefore, the notice to automatically include the Emperor Package is in violation of proper consumer practice. Moreover, it is unreasonable for MEASAT to charge RM30 merely for three channels not taking into account other rewards given to subscribers such as free decoder.

I have raise this issue following complaints from several existing ASTRO subscribers who have voiced their concern over the impropriety of such offer. I therefore call on MEASAT to provide an adequate explanation on the matter. MEASAT must also refrain from automatically upgrading customers' subscription to include the new ASTRO Emperor Package unless customers expressly demand for the package by completing the response form to indicate their acceptance of the offer.


* John Chung, DAP National Publicity Bureau Assistant Secretary