Becareful when buying Pre-paid card in Malaysia

You most likely know that I’ll need to be put on life support if I’m disconnected from the internet for too long. That was one of my greatest concern when I was invited to attend the launch of Nokia N97 at Kuala Lumpur. So before I left for KL, I did some research on the autoroaming data charges and found out that its better to get a pre paid card there. In fact, Celcom has the best data plans for pre paid card in Malaysia. RM$6 for 24 hours of unlimited data access.
So my plan was to buy a Celcom pre paid data card the moment my plane land. That didn’t really work out right because I couldn’t find any shops that sell prepaid card in KLIA. OK, I didn’t really have a chance to search the entire KLIA since its rather big and we are traveling in a big group. Can’t expect everyone to wait for me. So I went searching for the Pre paid card again after checking into the hotel. After searching high and low, I finally found a shop that sells pre paid card. OK, I sure there are a lot of places that sell pre paid card. Just that I’m not familiar with KL since this is my first visit.
Before I went to Malaysia, quite a number of friends warn me to be careful of pickpocket and conman at KL. I admit I let my guards down because it is a big shopping mall and I’m making a purchase from a proper shop. It is not those push cart type, so I thought it should be safe. (Mistake Number 1) I asked if they sold the pre paid data card that I wanted but the salesperson said he doesn’t sell that. Since the normal pre paid card can also access data, I decided to get that. The person told me he only has the RM$ 45 card. It’s quite expensive. But since I’m lazy to search the entire mall for better deals, I decided to get the card. (in fact, I bought 2 more for Nicholas and Bernard) But I forgot to ask the salesperson how much credits the pre paid card has. (Mistake Number 2) I thought it would have at least RM$30 to RM$40 value. I didn’t really care actually, I just want to be able to use it to pay for 24hr worth of unlimited data which cost RM$6. The salesperson passed me 3 pre paid card which doesn’t have a price tag or the credits printed on the package. I took them without asking much. (Mistake Number 3) Paid for the item and left the shop, no receipt issued. (Mistake Number 4) And I started using the card without checking the amount of credits on the card first. (Mistake Number 5)
Seems like a perfect recipe for a moron tourist being conned. And it never occurred to me that I’ve made so many mistake until I sit back and think about it.
I discovered that something is wrong after about 1/2 hour of using when I found out that the pre paid card is running low on credits. OK, although I’ve been using it a lot, I couldn’t have finished the credits so quickly. So I called the help desk and discovered that I was conned by the salesperson. That pre paid card that I was using is supposed to retail at RM$8.50. The salesperson sold me at RM$45, almost 5 times the actual value. I checked with the help desk and was told that the retailer are not supposed to mark up the price of the pre paid card. But the help desk guy can’t do anything about it other than advising me to ask for a refund from the shop.
So I went back to the shop with Bernard and Nichola to confront the salesperson. He insist that the cost of that card is RM$45. I told him that I called up Celcom and verified that the pre card is supposed to be sold at RM$8.50. But he still insist that his company sells it for RM$45. After arguing for quite some time, he made a call to his boss and came back to me saying that it is RM$45. At this point, I was quite pissed off already. I turn on my iPhone voice recording feature and record the entire conversation. Nicholas too out his camera and started taking photos of the shop. I told the salesperson that if that is the case, I’ll lodge a formal complaint to Celcom and make sure they revoke their retailer license. I think this scared the salesperson quite a bit and he called his boss again on the phone. And he finally decided to refund the pre paid card in full.
The whole entire ordeal took up so much time that I didn’t had any time to explore the rest of the city.
I must say that I’m not entirely fault-less. If I was more careful, I wouldn’t have landed myself into all these. But having said that, Celcom should print the retail price and credits of the pre paid card on the packaging. That would have prevented their retailers from marking up the price.
I thought I could try out the 3G capabilities of Celcom’s pre paid card during this KL trip and review it. If the speed and service is good, I could recommend it to all my friends and blog readers when they are traveling to Malaysia. But due to this unfortunate incident, I end up writing a warning blog entry rather than a recommendation. Sigh.
I hope everyone will be careful when purchasing a pre paid card, especially when you are in a foreign land.
Here is some tips if you are going to buy a pre paid card oversea:
1 ) Do your research first. Know the pricing of the pre paid card in the country.
2 ) Ask about the amount of credits in the pre paid card before buying.
3 ) Look out for price tag printed on the packaging if there is any.
4 ) Get a receipt as proof of purchase.
5 ) Check the credits in the pre paid card before using
6 ) Do the above checks even if you are making a purchase from a proper shop inside a big shopping mall.
Note: While this happened to me in KL, similar incident could also happen anywhere in the world. Including Singapore.


  1. You can lodge a complaint with the National Consumers Complaint Center. They have been rather efficient in taking action, and effective in making companies respond. I got a new replacement Nikon camera after sending a formal letter to both Nikon and NCCC – long story of getting defective camera 3x in a row from a shop called Pixel.

  2. Vic: Just becareful when buying. I’m sure this is just a black sheep.
    It is really useful to have a pre paid card to access data. Can use google map and go online to search for stuff.
    Bernard: Wah. Thanks for the endorsement. 🙂

  3. ChingYee: I didn’t lodge a complaint since they refunded me everything. And its just a very short trip for me, not worth the trouble.
    Let’s hope they won’t do it again.

  4. it’s really unfortunate that this had to happen in KL. I feel ashamed that Malaysian conman are still taking advantage of those who are not aware. It’s a good thing that you did some homework before coming here. Can you imagine the number of people who are not so tech savvy who don’t? Anyway, I feel you should disclose the dealer’s name and location so that people would actually know not to get it from there. Think of it as a public awareness campaign 🙂

  5. if i were you…
    i would rather tweet around or just ask malaysian fellow bloggers about prepaid cards before even come to malaysia…
    or even better ask people that know better…
    but its a wise decision for you and your friends to threat the salesperson a lil bit…and getting a full refund for doing it..
    prepaid cards in Malaysia are all price printed actually…
    i think what you are trying to focus here is the starter pack right..
    hope this will not be a reason for you to not be stopping by KL again later…

  6. Hillary: Ya lor. Thought you will be there to show us around. Hee hee. Hope you feeling better already. Take care of your health. 🙂
    demonick: I thought about it for a while. I guess there isn’t really a need to name the shop. Just in case they decided to change.
    Zelo55: Actually, I did some research and ask some Malaysian friends before coming. I guess my research wasn’t good enough or I was just plain careless. Nevertheless, I don’t think this will be a reason to stop me for visiting KL again. I want to go up the Twin Tower sky bridge, Times Sq and Low Yat Plaza.

  7. ah, I finally bought the same SIM card for RM8.5 (which they were selling us for RM45) at the Celcom shop at Pavillion! Thanks again bro, it was fun hanging out!

  8. Noteworthy blog post. 3 google searches later and I somehow still end up at your blog. I shalt bookmark this site.
    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that you could buy a “portable wireless 3g router” and share a single data sim card.
    I have a friend who does this in Singapore because he has an iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, Macbook, another macbook and an iPad… and a Nokia e51 “smartphone”… and more importantly, he brings ALL of them with him everywhere he goes.
    Devices like these:

  9. Fusionstream: I bought a Huawei E585 recently. Haven’t have the chance to blog about it. Soon… soon.
    But yes, it’s great to have a mobile 3G router when oversea. Can share 1 prepaid SIM card across several devices. And good for iPhone 4 users since it’s hard (or impossible) to find prepaid MicroSIM card.

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