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Warning to all seniors about banks
Published on: Monday, September 28, 2015
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I Am a victim of unscrupulous marketing. It all started when I received a voucher from Alliance Bank. It stated “Free Comprehensive Health Screening from the Golden Horses Health Sanctuary (GHHS) Selangor”. I was attracted to the word FREE. Previously, I was delighted to receive a free universal adapter from Alliance Bank for being a good customer. This time must be something bigger and better. I decided to attend the preview held at a local hotel to find out what was the reward.I was assigned a Sales Consultant who was very persuasive and slick. The Medical Screening was offered Free if I took up the following package:

1. One Free Health Medical Screening with One Free Night Stay at the Palace of Golden Horses Hotel.

2. 18 Comprehensive Health Medical Screenings for 18 years costing RM14,550.00

Initially I was hesitant to take up this as it did not sound right for me.

He went on and on telling me how many people had taken this so “very worthy package”. He quickly got me to sign an agreement which, in his words were standard terms. I was not provided with a copy of the agreement but was taken away by the sales consultant for stamping he said and I will get my copy by mail within one month.

He said that GHHS has an arrangement with Alliance Bank where the amount of RM404.17 will be deducted monthly for 36 months from my credit card. He took my card to effect this arrangement.

To redeem the Free Health Screening, my husband and I took a flight to Kuala Lumpur, and stayed in the Palace of Golden of Horses, using the Free one night stay included in the package. My husband was the one who underwent the screening. From the report of the screening , I found that it was a relatively standard package.

All this while, my bank statement was charged RM404.17 every month. I only received my copy of the GHHS agreement in my mail box 3 months after signing it.

The following year, I called GHHS to make my second Health Screening as agreed in the package I signed. The person then told me that the Health Screening will incur an extra RM598.00 which must be paid first. That was a real shock to me. After paying so much each month, I still had to fork out extra money.

I quickly took out my agreement to check and I then I realised the agreement I had signed was so terrible and costly. I was anxious with flying after two MAS planes crashed. I have to take the trouble and risk of having to take a flight over to KL in addition to having to incur extra money. As a retiree and with the never ending rise in the cost of living nowadays, that whatever pension money I have is not going to stretch very far and I need to reassess my financial ability. I decided that I better stop this contract while I still can.

When I signed up the contract, I was already a retiree, and I thought that Health Screenings would be necessary for me as I age. I thought that the RM404.17 a month was within my budget, which was why I took it up in the first place; But now the hassle of taking the flight to and fro, the hotel stay, and now with the extra air & taxi transport costs, I can only afford having Health Screening done locally and within my budget.

I quickly emailed Alliance Bank to stop charging my card for any more instalments as I am about to terminate the contract with GHHS. I did this quickly in order that I do not have to waste/pay more money than I already have. I thought that future instalments will not be charged to me upon my notification.

At the same time, I called GHHS by phone followed by an email requesting for immediate termination of the agreement and request for a refund for unutilised medical screenings.

I received a reply from Alliance Bank first and the bank gave me the shocking news that they had released the whole sum of RM14,550.00 to GHHS and I owe the bank the whole sum of RM14,550.00 plus interest! I never knew that when I signed up for this package! It was so disappointing that the bank that I have been a faithful patron to for many years, did not offer any advice or assistance or consideration to settle this outstanding amount which I never applied for but was asked to take up through GHHS upon signing up their package.

I got another rude shock when GHHS replied my email stating that I can terminate the contract but there would be no refund.

For GHHS, I had only utilised one Health Screening, and that was the Free Health Screening. I wrote again to request GHHS to consider to refund the money released back to Alliance bank. GHHS stood by their stand in not refunding any money in their reply to me.

I wrote back to inform Alliance Bank of the stand by GHHS regarding the termination of the contract but that I would still seek their consideration by another appeal. The bank replied to inform me I have to settle the outstanding and it is up to me to deal further with GHHS and not the bank.

I wrote for the 3rd time to GHHS but they maintained their stand in no refund despite my appeal. I decided to seek redress from GHHS through a claim with the Consumers Tribunal Court under KPDNKK. The Tribunal Court rejected my claim as it is out of their jurisdiction.

Alliance Bank is now suing me for the Sum of RM14,550.00 which they had released to GHHS.

What a horrible situation I got myself into just because I made a dreadful mistake in signing up a package and now I cannot terminate without losing RM14,550.00 just because I signed the package? Moreover I had only used one (1) FREE Health Screening and not the remaining 18 health screenings.

I was present at a Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) briefing held at a local hotel recently. When I enquired about my problem I was advised to lodge a complaint with BNM. I quickly filed a complaint with Bank Negara that Alliance Bank had used my personal data wrongly to organise a scheme with a third party GHHS in promoting their Medical Screening. The matter is now being taken up by Bank Negara Malaysia.

What should a retired woman like me do? The terrible mistake I made was falling as a victim to the ploy of marketing. Is requesting to end the contract wrong or illegal? Is it not reasonable for me to ask for the money for unused services to be refunded to me whether it is from Alliance Bank or GHHS or Bank Negara or any party.

There were many like me who were invited for the preview at the local hotel. There could others like me who have fallen victim to this scheme or similar schemes. If I do not take this matter to your esteem newspaper, many people will continue to be misled into such illegal/abusive/wrongful schemes.

I sincerely hope that my writing this will create public awareness to prevent more people from falling prey to any more unscrupulous schemes.



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