Home Thinking Aloud Opting Out of Opt-Out Schemes

Opting Out of Opt-Out Schemes



I was shocked when I received my M1 phone bill this month.

The amount somehow ballooned to three figures and it was only after scrutinising the bill that I realised the telecommunications service provider had charged me almost SGD$20 worth of opt-out services that I had not asked for.

I finally recalled that, some two months back, the customer service representative had mentioned a free one-month trial use of these new services (3G Video Buffets, Bye Bye Ring Ring) when I was upgrading my service plan and that I could cancel them if I so choose to. I wanted to opt-out on the spot, but she told me it couldn’t be done at the shop and I had to call the hotline to cancel them. After going home, I promptly forgot it.

And now I pay the price. My bad.

But I do still feel cheated.

For those who may not know, an opt-out scheme is a marketing tactic where a service provider will automatically introduce a new good or service to its customers – unless the consumer chooses to “opt-out”, or get out, of the scheme. It’s different from an opt-in scheme, where the customer decides whether he/she wants to sign up for a product or service before he gets it.

Opt-out schemes are controversial even for automatic organ donation purposes; in marketing it smacks of desperation.

Marketers who come up with such schemes hope that customers, after trying it for a while, love the new service so much they choose to continue. In most cases, however, these marketers just pray that unwitting consumers are either too lazy to opt-out, or like in my case, they forget to.

Until these customers get their bills and realise their mistake. That’s when the goodwill and trusts evaporates.

You really don’t want to force customers into choosing. Because they will – with their feet.

Just as I will when Singapore finally introduces true number portability for telecommunications services.

Bye Bye Ring Ring? It’s bye bye, M1.


PS: The Customer Association of Singapore (CASE) had already expressed to M1 its disappointment over a previous opt-out marketing tactic introduced by the telco in 2004.