Another Weekend Fiasco with OCBC

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I thought my last run-in with OCBC was bad. Apparently, I thought wrong. Two months have lapsed since my last purchase at OCBC and I have paid 2 installments on my Simmons purchase.

While shopping at Marks & Spencer in Plaza Singapura on Saturday morning before the boy’s music class, the wife spotted a pair of waterproof leather boots that was ideal for her use during our Japan trip at the end of the year. As the outlet did not have the size that she wanted, she got the staff to reserve a pair at Centrepoint for collection on Sunday. The year-end trip is with the in-laws, so my wife decided to bring her mum along the next day to see if she would also fancy a pair.

On Sunday, we made our way to Centrepoint. While the wife and mother-in-law were shopping, I decided to deposit some extra cash in my OCBC Savings account, in case I needed to top-up my credit card account, based on my previous experience. I walked over to the OCBC branch in Orchard Point to deposit the cash.

As anticipated, the total purchase price after shopping will exceed the limit that I had on my OCBC Robinsons Card, I tried to top-up my account via Internet Banking, as I did previously. After trying for 15 minutes and getting several “Service Not Available” messages on the Internet Banking site, I had to resort to topping up via the ATM at Orchard Point.

After the top-up, we proceeded to make payment for the purchase. To our surprise, the credit card purchase was declined. We requested the Marks & Spencer staff to try both my main card and my wife’s supplementary card again, but the transactions were declined.

Hence, I called the OCBC hotline and spoke to a customer service officer named Aidi. He checked on both my accounts and verified that the deposit I did, and the top-up I performed was reflected in my accounts. Puzzled, he had to check with his credit card department to understand why the transaction was declined, and asked if he could call back once he got to the bottom of the matter. Reluctantly, I agreed.

10 minutes later, he called back and explained that while the accounts reflected the top-up, the amount was not available until a batch run was processed. For those unfamiliar with such systems, a batch run is basically done to reconcile accounts. When I requested to know what time the batch run will be performed, he told me it was only done end of day. He told me that if I wanted the purchase to go through, I had to request for the Marks & Spencer staff to get a manual approval. To his credit, Aidi stayed on the line and waited for the manual approval to be done. Kudos to the Marks & Spencer staff for their patience and understanding too, throughout the whole process till the manual approval got through.

Based on these two incidents that I experienced, I have many questions to “Ask OCBC”. Since all the accounts are within the bank, shouldn’t the transfers be real-time? Why is there a need for an end of day batch run reconciliation? Why was this top-up different from my previous top-ups?

I suspect that my questions will go unanswered, as I previously suggested, “Ask OCBC for what?”

Going Prepaid with Virgin Mobile in Australia

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Just came back from a great trip from Melbourne. Will blog about it more with photos in the coming week.

After getting my N97, iPod Touch and upgrading my phone plan with M1 to an iPhone Lite plan, I’ve been so used to being online anytime and anywhere. I wanted the same accessibility during my trip.

Did some research on Google and found a promotion by Virgin Mobile where an extra 1GB of data is given on each prepaid card purchase or recharge. The promotion is till end August. What luck!

So during lunch on the first day of my trip, I made a quick detour to Elizabeth Street to buy a Your Cap 19 SIM Card Starter Pack. The instructions that came with the pack was pretty sparse, so I had to call the Customer Service. The CSO was friendly and patient and helped me through the registration process over the phone. She even told me I could use the prepaid credits to make IDD calls. One thing to note though, to register you will need a local address and land line on hand. The CSO informed me that I can use the hotel details to register since I was a tourist. When I was done, she informed me that the line will be activated within an hour.

After a few hours, I was still not able to access the Internet or make phone calls, not even to the Customer Service hotline. I had to resort to using my M1 line to call.  The CSO, I think his name was Mika, was very helpful. Apparently, my account had zero balance. This was the reason why I could not make any calls with the SIM card. He activated the account on the spot, and told me to check. As I had to swap my SIM card, I asked him to call me back in 5 minutes, and he obliged.

I still had issues accessing the Internet, and when he called back, I highlighted it to him. After doing some checks on my account, there was an issue with the pack I bought. It seems the prepaid mobile number that came with the SIM doesn’t match with the starter pack. He proceeded to log a case for me and told me I had to either fax or email the details on the starter pack and my receipt (Thank goodness I asked for one). He also credited $3 into my account for me to get by. I had to wait until I got back to the hotel to email the details, and by then it was after office hours.

When I tested it the next day, I was able to access the Internet via all the usual channels, FaceBook, Hotmail, Twitter, FourSquare, etc. Not too sure how much data I used in all, but I was able to access the Internet for the rest of my trip. I also managed to make about 25 minutes of IDD calls back to Singapore during my trip, which was an unexpected bonus! Access in Melbourne and outside the city was quite ok, unlike some of the reviews I read which said that signals outside the city was bad.

With the additional 1GB data promotion, this is definitely a worthwhile deal if you need mobile data access. Too bad the promotion is till end of August. I doubt they will make the additional data permanent, but I seriously hope they will revise their plans to provide more data.

Pros:

  • additional 1GB of data (till end August 2010)
  • able to make IDD calls with the call credits
  • friendly and helpful Customer Service

Cons:

  • additional 1GB of data (till end August 2010)
  • Lack of in pack instructions and details for registration