Call on the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs to take the requisite action against ASTRO for its unfair, improper and unethical sales tactic
Media Conference Statement
by John Chung
(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): Together with DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) National Secretary Loke Siew Fook, DAPSY National Assistant Secretary Kuan Perk Siong and DAP Consumer Bureau Secretary and Political Secretary to MP for Seputeh, Khong Chee Seng, I had today presented a memorandum to the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs requesting the requisite action to be taken against ASTRO for its unfair, improper and unethical sales tactic. The memorandum was accepted by Press Secretary to the Minister, Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman.
In a March 2003 letter to ASTRO customers signed by Mr. Chia Boon Lim, Executive Director of MEASAT Broadcast Network Systems Sdn Bhd, the customers were informed about the introduction of the new ASTRO Emperor package.
In the letter, customers were told that if they wish to subscribe to the new package, they need only to complete the enclosed response form and send it to ASTRO before April 21, 2003.
However, they were also asked to take note that if ASTRO do not hear from them by April 21, 2003, their current subscription would be automatically upgraded to include the Emperor Package for which they would have to pay an extra RM30.
Such automatic upgrading of the new channels under the new Emperor Package is unfair and unlawful. Under the law of contract, silence does not amount to consent. As such, MEASAT cannot conveniently assume that customers who do not reply are consenting to the automatic upgrading of the new channels. To do so is not only unlawful but also unethical and unscrupulous.
As a normal practice, it is only logical for ASTRO customers who wish to subscribe to the new package to reply. Why should those who do not wish to subscribe be made to reply as well, failing which the new package would be ‘forced’ upon them via automatic upgrading of their subscription?
Such a requirement is unfair and customer-unfriendly especially when there are many customers who may not be aware of the notice or may have overlooked it or may not even have received such a notice. There is no need for ASTRO to resort to such sales tactic, which is only detrimental to its reputation.
DAP has decided to highlight this issue in view of the many public complaints from ASTRO customers who expressed their dissatisfaction, displeasure and anger over the automatic upgrading of customers’ subscription.
I had earlier issued two press statements on the issue, the second of which I had called on ASTRO to explain and revoke within 48 hours both the requirement on customers who do not wish to subscribe to reply and the automatic upgrading of the Emperor Package in the case of customers who fail to reply, failing which I shall lodge a formal complain with the Ministry of Trade and Consumer Affairs.
As ASTRO has failed to respond, I have no choice but to lodge a formal complaint with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. I hope that the Ministry can immediately look into the matter and take the requisite action to direct ASTRO not to carry out such automatic upgrading of customers’ subscription in order to safeguard the rights and interests of consumers.
* John Chung, DAP National Publicity Bureau Assistant Secretary