The Straits Times
Published on Jan 25, 2013

'Free trial' and 'free promotion': What's the difference?


FOR new sign-ups, StarHub often provides many free upgrades for up to six months. However, it assumes that customers would continue with these upgrades upon their expiry.

I found this out after making inquiries when my monthly cable and fibre-optic broadband bill jumped from $78 to $123, due to the automatic continuation of the upgrades at full price.

I was told that I had to e-mail or call StarHub's customer care hotline to remove them.

I highlighted to the customer service officer that I should have been given a reminder notice upon expiry of the upgrades, according to rules set out in the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.

However, the officer argued that the free upgrades were provided "on a promotional basis and not on a free trial basis", and hence the Act did not apply.

Clearly, StarHub is playing a word game.

It is not difficult to substitute "free trial", which is covered under the Act, with another word in a contractual agreement, thus rendering the Act meaningless.

I hope the relevant authorities can look into this issue.

Soh Yew Peng