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When communication fails - Yes, Astro Malaysia, we're talking to you

Nigel Morris-Co...

This is genuinely hilarious. Astro TV is supposed to be a communications company. Here's an epic fail or twenty.

Dealing with Malaysia's Astro TV is a horribly frustrating experience.

You can't go on-line and challenge a bill, you can't go online and reduce the programme packages, you can't moan at them for the fact that more than three quarters of their programming is repeats, cookery programmes, talent shows, talking heads, celebrity gossip and that every ad break (it seems) shows at least one and often more adverts for each of Trivago or Hotels.com or Colgate or some kind of fabric conditioner with the most annoying (and theoretically effective but I can't remember what the product is called because all I want to do is blot it out) jingle. You can't go online to complain that the good stuff, like BBC and ITV series, have now been moved into discrete pay-per-view packages while the paid-for packages are filled with the junk tv outlined above.

And that's before they break into live motorsport to advertise, yes, Trivago plus one of the major sponsors (we see it on the cars, on the drivers, on captions because it's the name of a front-running team: we don't need to have the event interrupted to see a full screen ad that lasts half a lap) or even trailers for other sports or, in some particularly stupid examples, trailers for the race we are trying to watch but can't because some idiot is running a promo for it.

Their invoices include two numbers, one of which is not, apparently, the account number. It says "account number" next to it. There's another number, which is, apparently, the actual account number. It has a hyphen in it. Sending an e-mail to Astro quoting that number results in an automatic response that says "Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for contacting us.

We regret to inform you that we are unable to trace your Astro account number from the details provided below. For further assistance, please provide us with your 10 digit Astro account number (without hyphen)."

But that's a lie. Just like the lie in the promo for some cop show about a "Special Victims Unit" that's always in repeat saying "the most watched show on TV." It's not. Look it up. It's 46th. Just like the lie that says that a film that's been on TV at least half a dozen times recently is promoted with the expression "Premieres..."

How is the reply to the e-mail a lie? Because there's an auto reply system that does recognise the account number and sends a response that says (haha, love the irony of this) "Please be informed...." Yes, we are.

Then, just to prove that communications are really not the company's forté, this is what arrived.

Dear Sir/Madam,
Thank you for contacting us.
We are experiencing high volume at the moment. Please be informed that your account is currently active in our system. Here is the bill summary for your reference:
Overdue :RM <$Error: Cannot evaluate method (AttachedData): com.genesyslab.icc.util.stencil.expr.EvalException: AttachedData.PassDueAmount null$>
Current : RM <$Error: Cannot evaluate method (AttachedData): com.genesyslab.icc.util.stencil.expr.EvalException: AttachedData.NewCharges null$>
Total Outstanding :RM <$Error: Cannot evaluate method (AttachedData): com.genesyslab.icc.util.stencil.expr.EvalException: AttachedData.TotalBalance null$>
Last payment received : <$Error: Cannot evaluate method (AttachedData): com.genesyslab.icc.util.stencil.expr.EvalException: AttachedData.LastPaymentDate null$>
Please settle the overdue amount to avoid service interruption. Do ignore this message if payment has been made.

Genius. Not.

The original e-mail, incidentally, was about repeated breakdown of the internet connection. A message about over-billing from some weeks ago has never received a reply.

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