Forum: Lack of empathy for intellectually challenged scam victim

A SingTel outlet at Ion Orchard.
A SingTel outlet at Ion Orchard.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

My sister-in-law is 50 years old and works as a factory operator earning less than $1,000 per month.

She was unfortunately tricked into signing up for two mobile phone lines with Singtel and another two with StarHub in April by a man she befriended.

He assured her that he would pay the monthly subscription plans. But he defaulted on payments and subsequently, all four lines were terminated.

Both Singtel and StarHub proceeded with legal letters demanding payments that amounted to about $3,780 for Singtel and $9,600 for StarHub. We were not successful in our appeals to both telcos to waive the outstanding charges.

We then decided to make a police report and sought help from our Member of Parliament to make an appeal to both telcos to waive the charges.

At the same time, we took our sister-in law to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for a mental capacity assessment and she was classified as a vulnerable adult with borderline intellectual functioning.

We submitted the medical report to the police and also to Singtel and StarHub.

StarHub, upon reviewing the medical report, decided to waive the charges on condition that she not be allowed to sign up for any mobile plans unless outstanding charges are paid.

We thank StarHub for its understanding in view of the circumstances.

Singtel sent us a letter to say my sister-in-law is still liable for the outstanding charges, and advised us to get in touch with its collection agent on payments.

I was surprised by Singtel's response as one of its customer focus statements says: "We listen to, and connect with, customers and treat them with dignity and respect."

Samuel Seck Mun Choong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2020, with the headline 'Lack of empathy for intellectually challenged scam victim'. Subscribe