4/09/2008

Another ugly case of monopoly

Nets charging $5 not refundable for a new card that has an expiry date. First, why must there be an expiry date if the card is in good condition? Many people bought more than one card, some kept as spares and hardly used. Secondly, is the $5 justified? Why allow only one organisation to monopolise the sale of such a card to the public when usage is almost unavoidable or near compulsory to some? Shouldn't there be some control or regulation over such a monopoly till alternative suppliers are in the market? It is like asking car owners to take MRT when there is only one MRT while better alternatives are not ready or available other than the snail buses.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

What to do? We have only one choice in everything, be it electing the President or taking public transport.

Some people were in fact asking, years ago, about the card deposit which were placed with a bank and earning interest. Who benefitted from it?

So, to resolve the issue they probably thought it is best to have an expiry date for the cards and no one will have any reason to ask about the deposit. Brilliant isn't it.

It's happened!

redbean said...

more brilliant is that if there are 2 million cards out there, at $5 a piece, you can collect $10 mil every 5 years.

Matilah_Singapura said...

> Why allow only one organisation to monopolise the sale of such a card to the public when usage is almost unavoidable or near compulsory to some? <

This is great question to be asked of parliament, and asked over and over again until the state gives a reasonable answer. (if at all the govt ever answers "reasonably")

> Shouldn't there be some control or regulation over such a monopoly till alternative suppliers are in the market? <

No, because I never believe the word "until" when it comes to legislation. If one is going to make legislation, why waste time in making regulation? Since you are already going to do it, just legislate the monopoly away. It won't be long before competing systems emerge. The banks will jump at the opportunity, for example. Even if they come in at $3, that's a lot of cake there.

Anonymous said...

if you dun want to pay the $5, then dun take the trains.

Anonymous said...

I am also puzzled as to why one needs to pay $60.00 to replace an old Identity Card. It is something that one had carried in his wallet for the past 25 years. We have to have it with us at all times, and oftentimes security guards, government officials and other organizations require us to take it out for checks and run it through their machines. We all know that plastics will deteriorate after some years from exposure to sunlight. Paying $60.00 is a bit too much to pay for something that is no fault of ours.

Anonymous said...

If 4 million people here pays $5 every 8 years to get a new transitlink card, SMRT wud collect 1/4 billion over their lifetime; and if everyone changes their ic twice in their lifetime, the card issuing authorities wud rake in 1/2billion dollars, without risks or marketing budget.

redbean said...

it is another way to keep the economy vibrant. just like buying cars. every 10 coe expires, must get new one. or in practice, every 3/4 years, change cars.

then cars in very good working conditions got scrap in less than 10 years.

Anonymous said...

EZlink cards are not issued by SMRT, but by a company owned by LTA, it can be used for most public transport.

Anonymous said...

Why call the $5 a deposit when it is not what it is? I tell you what I would do. Just before my 2 cards expire I am going to use up as much of the deposit as possible. At least they cannot take away all the $5. I believe the expirty date is on the receipt given when we top up the cards.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Apparently this "monopoly" has extended it reach beyond bus and train fares. Doesn't 7/11 accept EZ Link as currency to pay for purchases?

Anonymous said...

Just for all to know -

HK also has the Octupus card (or MTR card, MTR being Mass Transit Rail) which is widely used by the general public for different kinds of purposes including public transport, retail payment, access to condo compound etc. Yes, even as security access for condo...!

There's totally no confusion as only 1 card is used. It may be 'monopolised' by MTR Corp, the issuing coy but it's totally FREE and there's NO EXPIRY!!

(my own card is 8 years old and still being used)

Sure, nothing is free, but at least MTR recover the cost of the card indirectly thru usage. But it certainly make me feel good that I don't have to 'PAY' for the 'freehold' card!

A tourist can also use it immediately without rifling thru any instruction manual or conditions. After his last trip, he can easily get the refundable deposit at ANY MTR staff counter.

Co0nvenient, efficient, hassle free, no smashing of cars, and totally no confusion or headache.

I really don't understand why S'pore, home of the super-efficient & super-effective, can't adopt the same approach!! Simple matter that don't require parliamentary approval.



BH

Anonymous said...

i noticed in singapore, they like to charge things whenever they can.. previously they used to charge for driving licence renewals... and they charge the tv licence for free to air programmes, which i heard in some countries like china are free...

Matilah_Singapura said...

There is no such thing as a "free" economic good.

The cards and licenses are produced by HUMAN BEINGS. And also require other resources like plastic, paper, ink etc. - again all produced by humans.

One the one hand people on this blog complain about themselves not earning enough to cope with the increasing costs of living.

Then all of a sudden you get the ideas that it is somehow "immoral" to charge money for a good, implying that the people making the good should do so for free—and therefore not get paid.

Contradictions, folks.

redbean said...

hi BH,

thanks for sharing. singaporeans are too used to being told and told to pay. they think this is normal and they can't do anything about it. and they accept anything that is thrown at them.

they will wake up one day.

redbean said...

we are talking about monopoly, about competition, about providers that are willing to absorb the cost of producing cards while making from other sources.

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as a "free" economic good.

In the case of the free to air programmes, billions were made from the big ticket advertisers, royalties from international markets and sponsors of the many specialty programs, as such the authorities shud tax the tv operators for their landslide windfalls, instead of going after us peanuts.

Anonymous said...

matilah, you got fucked up reasoning. what you are saying is as good as to say when you go to an eatery for your food you should also pay for your seat becos whoever put the tables and chairs there had incurred some expenses and therefore should not be free. Maybe even the space that the owner rented it should be charged too.

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