Thursday, March 23, 2006

StarHub - Bad website, bad service

I recently activated SMSemail on my mobile phone account with StarHub. This is a free value-added service that allows a subscriber to receive an email sent by Internet to his phone. Most mobile operators provide this, and the addressing is usually something like mobilenumber@operator.com. In the case of StarHub, I received an SMS telling me the service was activated, and to use the format mobilenumber@starhub.com.sg.

Only one problem. It doesn't work. The same SMS told me to look at a web page for further instructions. It doesn't exist.

By using search, I found a web page where there are instructions on how to use SMSemail. It says to use the format mobilenumber@starhub.net.sg.

This does not work.

I called the 1633 helpline, a fancifuly named facility which specializes in music on hold, and eventually spoke to the call agent. It took a couple of tries, but she finally got the point and said she would check. She came back on line after a few minutes and said the service was down for maintenance.

Since it had been 5 hours between my first and most recent attempts, this sounded bogus. I suggested that this was not a correct answer. She then said she would log the fault and have an engineer call me back. That was the last I heard from 1633.

Since intellectual curiousity had been stirred, I gave it another shot during the following business day, and managed to reach a live tech support guy. He immediately said the correct format for SMSemail was mobilenumber@shsms.com.sg, and explained how to send an outbound email by SMS. I told him the introductory SMS was wrong, and the web page link was wrong, but he didn't seem particularly interested. I have no idea if any action will be taken.

In a fit of civic duty, I attempted to report all this using StarHub's cleverly constructed self-defense system, also known by the confusing name of "Customer Care". This diabolical system is designed to prevent any contact with the company. It requires many fields to be filled out, has drop down menus that don't drop down, and if you get past all that and actually press the submit button, you get an SQL/OLE error and are dumped.

Nowhere on the entire StarHub web site are there any contact details for departments, management, phone numbers, fax numbers or any other evidence of human life. The sole way of contacting them is through the voice call centre at 1633, or the non-functioning "Customer Care" form.

I really wonder if this form of commercial enterprise could exist anywhere else in the world other than Singapore or some sort of communist dictatorship.

Oh, and in the hope that no one else has to go through all this nonsense, you can send an email by SMS using the phone number 7801, and the format -

S#emailaddress#subject#emailbodytext


However, and this is just great, the return address on the email is mobilenumber@starhub.net.sg
which, inevitably, does not work.



2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mail your complain to this address chandra@starhub.com. He suppose to be in-charge of all StarHub website. Or call him at 90620505. If you cannot get through him, tell this person ptan@starhub.com.

Balaji Dutt said...

Hey thanks for the info - I tried getting the SMSemail working once as well but it went nowhere. The 7801 approach is faster and seems to work properly.

It is bloody pricey though - 10c per SMS!