Anyway, the thrill of some of the advantages here – by the way, you don’t pay for quite a few digital channels here as it is included in the TV licence; you don’t have to pay for hooking up more PCs to your home modem; and you are not forced to buy a redundant package of channels to subscribe to channels that you want on cable – got me thinking of the frustrations I had dealing with ‘cons’ in singapore. The following is just a reminiscence of one such occasion with a major company in singapore.
I always thought, given overwhelming evidence, that singapore comes up with lots of ‘rip-off’ deals confused for great ones simply because one does not know better, or knows how to think past the obvious. I recall the time when one ISP (SCV when it mutated into ‘Starhub’ I think) in singapore attempted to flog off second hand modems at first hand prices by offering the consumer ‘a great opportunity’ to own their current modems at cheap prices. I think they even offered us the opportunity to not have to respond to this ‘great offer’ and that they would just help themselves to our money for it.
Being more ‘Indian’ than ‘Confucian’, I noticed this con straight away. (by the way, my usage of ‘Indian’ and ‘Confucian’ is not a ‘race’ thing but a perspectival one as I’ve met many Indians whom were ‘Confucian’ as well and many Hong Kongers I met whilst I lived there for a couple of years struck me as highly non-Confucian and quite 'Indian'(oppositional-minded). ‘Confucian’ is, amongst others, being subservient, awe-fully respectful of authority, unquestioning, going by tradition as opposed to reason, conformism, etc. One just has to peruse core Confucian/Legalist principles to appreciate these points and consequences of abiding by such a mindset.) I wrote them and told them that the modem was firstly, supposed to be maintained by them and that if it ever conked out, the initial agreement was that they would have to replace it. But now, not only did they just ignore this commitment, but were attempting to sell the non-cogitating public the existing modem at just about first hand prices. I told them that it was ‘second hand’ by virtue of it first being legally owned by them whilst I was using it, and that if I was expected to buy it, then I would be the 2nd user, and hence expected a 2nd hand price. And even if they were to give it to me at the said 2nd hand price, I wanted to know what they had to say about their initial commitment to service the modem? As I already had it for a couple of years, the wear and tear of daily use would certainly require a replacement sooner than not.
Of course, living in singapore, ‘troublemakers’ are just ignored as they know very well that most people would be happily owning 2nd hand products at first hand prices that would be automatically deducted from their back accounts. Thus, my growing appreciation that I was living under the tyranny of mass stupidity that served as the midwife of top-down opportunism. How else can such gross a con be engaged in nationwide. Just because every good little ‘singaporean’ was adept at playing ‘follow the leader’, I was expected to as well because that’s what everyone did. There was no place for reason, and the queue was reason enough to value what was at the other end.
This, by the way, is just one of the many instances of how ‘getting screwed’, is passed unnoticed. I suppose that is why people might be inclined to think it’s a ‘great’ country as they have been quite perspectivally disabled enough to not smell the backed-up toilet for the exorbitantly-priced air fresheners. Well, after being ignored time and again by the said company, whom, after my umpteenth email, responded by stating that I could return the modem – and my being expected to return it is itself evidence that they are the first owners of the modem and not myself, which, in case the reader didn’t get it, makes it a 2nd hand product if I was to purchase it, and myself, a first-hand fool if I didn’t realise it. This ‘never mind lah, it’s like that one lah’ mentality never quite sat well with me as I respected myself as an intelligent and cogitating individual a bit more than the average joe.
Well, I can go on about the many types of cons in singapore which I’m quite sure missed the attention of just about every ‘intelligent’ individual inhabiting the country, but the point of this is that in comparison to the UK, being a ‘consumer’ here is not, most of the time, synonymous with ‘being consumed’. If you’ve got reason on your side, companies tend to agree with you as opposed to singapore’s, ‘It’s like that one lah’-cum-‘It’s company policy’. I suppose s/he who focuses on fairness has her/is reasoning capacity expanded as opposed to states where there is enough mass apathy to leave the question of ‘fairness’ unaddressed, and as a consequence, the reasoning capacity incapacitated, or at least active within severely contracted arenas.