Monday, October 26, 2009

Check you bill please - carefully!

Sometimes you wonder to what extent Malaysian companies would take to trick (read:cheat) the Malaysian public just to fill in their coffers.

They need to do it fast, before Malaysian public could be awaken.

I spent 2 hours at Ampang Puteri Hospital today. Nothing out of the ordinary I must say and nothing to be concerned about, I am glad to tell you. After informing the receptionist at the (specialist) clinic that we have been here (Ampang Putri) before albeit at another specialist clinic, she didn't have to register us, and within 30 mins, we were ushered in.

Not bad for a walk-in clinic without appoinment.

The doctor was chatty and more than I had expected. I mean we had been to another specialist here in the same hospital whose answers were one-liner so much so that I had to send an SOS message to a former colleague at Monash University for him to take our case or at least recommend us another doctor.

That Dato' doc at the specialist hospital thought that we the public could not comprehend medical terms and descriptions.

So we dumped him for another specialist, at the recommendation of my old friend at Monash (a professorial doc minus the title who had taken cases of utmost political consequence a decade ago) who unfortunately could only take adult cases.

Sorry I digress.

At the outpatient pharmacy, we were explained about the medications and then were told that it would cost us RM381.60. I didn't bat an eyelid, though I thought it was expensive. But you are talking about Ampang Putri and not Taiping GH here, so I would just pay up.

Given them my credit card and after I had signed the chit would they produced the detailed bill. By then, I had already paid my bill obviously.

So I scrutinized the bill while I was walking out, and what I saw was interesting. They had charged us RM15 as a new patient.

And we are not new patient.

So I went back and make noises about the charge. RM15 Alhamdulillah is not a fee I would normally baulked over, sometimes our lunch would exceed that amount, and I guess Arif's pizza bill would amount higher than that.

But she told me that the last time we were there was 5 years ago and that after 5 years we would be considered as new patient.

"How convenient!" I told her.

"So you would want us to come here every year or every month even though we are not sick?" the loyar buruk side of me was starting to talk.

She laughed. "No, that's the rule."

"But I can take it out for you if you wish."

Now she is talking.

I told her in no uncertain term that at hotel, we are always given the detailed bill before we sign the chit. Here they tried to con us by giving it after they had charged you.

So she reversed the bill and saved me RM15. She knew looking at this serious looking guy, that this is one guy willing to kill someone over that amount of money, if he feels that there is an element of cheating involved.

Here are my take on this:

1. Every 5 years you would have to renew you membership at the hospital. With computerised system that would record everything, it costs practically nothing for them to have you in the system
2. How convenient it is that we have exceeded 5 years since our last visit. If it were there say 3 years ago, the rules would be changed to 3 years and still they would charged us.
3. The detailed bill was given after we paid up. In this case, I would consider it a hassle to reverse the credit card charge and would have preferred to leave so as to avoid traffic jam (it was 5.30 pm by then).
4. You can ask for a policy reversal if you were to ask for it. Rules are after all meant to be broken.

I think Malaysian companies, especially the GLC, can always get away with murder. Tell me how many Malaysian companies are there in the Fortune 5oo list who rake in more than 60% of their revenue from overseas operations?

Other than this singular company, most other big Malaysian corporations who make at least RM1 billion a year would use this kind of trick. Maxis for example would charge RM3 per call to TM 103 line instead of RM0.30.

That's why I thought many Malaysian companies can get away with murder.

But at least, to their credit, Ampang Putri were willing to reverse the charges and I didnt go through too much hassle to get them do it. In fact she did it willingly.

EPILOGUE (Updated 8 am 27 Oct)

I just browsed the net and found an article on an alternative website entitled Getting Away with Murder. I just read this Tuesday at 8 am and hence my above article has nothing to do with this murder - so to speak.

I was talking figuratively and they were talking literally!


  1. Rahman,

    What you are lamenting about is chicken feed compared to what happened to my friend at one of those specialist hospitals.

    He was admitted due to piles but his stay in the hospital was eventually extended for treatment of super bacteria. So, on top of the normal piles surgical treatment, he was given emergency surgery for the super bacteria infection too.

    When he was discharged 2 weeks later, his bill amounted to RM16,000. What infuriated him is not the total amount, which is kind of expected for treatment at these private hospitals, but, upon scrutinising his bills in detail, he found out he was charged RM400 on the final day for consultation by four specialists, which works out to be RM100 per specialist.

    He didn't recall any further treatment given to him by any of the specialist on the last day he was there. The only thing he remembered them doing, are just to come by his room to greet him and ask him how he was doing that day and that was it.

    If that is not daylight robbery, I don't know what is. Normally patients admitted to these hospitals have insurance cover or their company are footing the bills and they don't really care how much they pay. It is only when you have to pay personally from your own pocket that you will take interest in these kind of things.

    And you can be particularly sure that that was not the one and only occurence.

    Your junior in KB

  2. Definitely mine is chicken feed. TO many it is not worth the hassles.

    But your story is even more juicier. I would love to become that kind of consultant. Saying hi to me would cost one RM100.00.

    You are right about the payment methods. We could not care less if it not coming out directly from our pocket. But in the end, we must all remember we would be paying the price in the future through hiked premiums.

    Did he manage to get it reversed? Or is the hospital always right?