Whenever I travel, I would always try to get a local prepaid simcard for my mobile phone for 3G internet access and to avoid costly roaming rates. 3G access in Malaysia is especially cheap; why pay RM25 (about USD8) for 24hrs wifi access in your hotel when prepaid 3G will only set you back by about RM3 (about USD1) per day and you can have it with you at all times. Using a local line to call overseas is relatively inexpensive too, if you do not use Skype or other similar services.
I recently visited Kuala Lumpur and was staying in the Bukit Bintang area so I looked around for a local prepaid simcard. For the record, this is my first time buying a mobile prepaid simcard in the area as I previously stayed elsewhere. Having used Digi previously, I found their prices transparent and easy to understand compared to the other mobile providers. However, it has been a while since I last came to Malaysia and I am not clear on the latest plans, pricings etc.
I visited the famous (or infamous I should say) Sungei Wang Plaza nearby as my hotel concierge advised that they have a plethora of mobile phone and related vendors and he did not exaggerate. I located a Digi Specialised Store on the Lower Ground (LG) floor of the building. I understand a Specialised Store to be an authorised dealer of sorts and so felt reassured to be dealing with them rather than a reseller.
Long story short, I bought a Digi Best Prepaid starter pack for RM25 with RM5 credit preloaded. This is not uncommon as my previous simcard purchases were similar i.e. preloaded credit is lesser than the face value of the package. I recalled paying a similar price the last time (about RM20) so did not question the vendor closely.
After paying and activating the service, I left and later visited the Digi website to understand more about my package. I discovered to my horrror, the Best starter pack was being sold on Digi's online store at only RM8.50. I had paid almost three times the price!!
I went back to ask the vendor if he had overcharged me and he claimed innocence and said the RM8.50 packs are sold out. He also insisted that the original recommended retail price is RM25. I did not want to start my holiday by marring it with a confrontation over a mere USD5 and so dropped the matter.
When I looked a bit more online, I came across a forum frequented by local Malaysians and a post by one of the users caught my eye:
The poster has an experience similar to mine earlier this year and I also read of other allegations of deceiteful methods used by mobile phone vendors in Sungei Wang Plaza to sell their wares on the same forum.
Although I am not local Malaysian, I am ethnic Chinese but the vendor did not bat an eye about doing this to me. For all other visitors who are obviously not local, do beware of such tactics. I was careless, thinking it was safe to deal with an authorised reseller (can you imagine Walmart doing a bait-and-switch?) but such is not the case. Caveat Emptor!