Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ripping off customers

In 2002, we (my wife and I) finally decided to make our heaviest investment together. We decided to buy a high cost apartment, which was then being developed in Damansara by a well-known developer.

The location was great and had a lot of future potential due to its proximity to the Ikanao power center, the Curve, Tesco and One Utama. My wife was enthusiastic because the company has a good reputation and is probably the biggest and only Bumiputra developer of major projects in Malaysia. We obtained Islamic (so called) financing from one of Malaysia’s biggest banks, which was not so easy but that is another story all together.

Whenever we passed the place, we could see the structure slowly growing and imagine the days when we could finally move in. The apartments were due for completion in November last year. The dealine passed but construction was still in progress. My more experienced friends told me not to worry as it was considered normal for developers to miss the deadline. They comforted me by saying that the developer usually will pay compensation if they passed the deadline.

Two weeks back, we received a letter from the developer saying that the apartment was ready and to collect our keys as soon as possible.

We were so happy that we were finally going to own a place of our own. So off we went to their office. Really disaapointed to find out that we are not eligible for compensation as we they had delivered vacant possession of the property within thirty six months (3 years) from the date of our agreement. Damn!

Moreover, we found out that we had to settle various dues. We noted that one of them were late payment fees. We were like, “what late payment fees?” It turned out that the bank delayed payment to the developer a few times and even though it was not our fault, we have to pay the fees. What I found amazing is that this is considered normal in Malaysia. Yeah! Real Islamic banking.

One of our friends informed us that her developer had waived their fees and so we wrote an appeal letter to the developer. The lady attending to us said that we may appeal and so we did. Accordign to her, we would receive the reply a week later.

We then drove down to the apartment and had a shock.

Our building was not even ready yet. Workers were still working on the upper floors. The lifts were not working and they told us that even the utilities (water) had not been connected yet. One of the workers took us up to our unit, which we found unlocked. However we were happy when we found that we had a great view of the hills and the lake. The squatter huts (workers) were an eyesore but I am sure they will go as soon as the buildings are complete.

Fast forward to last week, Saturday. We drove down to their office and straightaway went to their credit control department. Was really disappointed when we found that our appeal for the waiver had not been approved.

I mean its not fair.
1. When we delay our payment to the bank by even one day, we pay late payment charges.
2. When the bank delays on their payment to the developer, we still have to pay late payment charges (this time to the developer).

Now, we have to talk to the bank. One guy gave us some hope when he told us that Citibank helped their customer to get their interest fees waived. Going to contact our financing bank and see what they have to say. Will publish their reply here.

Disappointment turned to anger when I found that we also had to pay maintenance charges for the month of July.

How can they charge us maintenance fees when we have not moved in yet – when the building is not even ready yet?

The lady at the office tried to push some legal stuff in our face – “according to the agreement *blah, blah, bullshit, bullshit*”

Yes, on paper the building is complete. However, the fact is that the fire safety stuff (pipes, etc) have not been installed, construction still going on the top floors, water not connected, and most important of all - the lifts are not even working yet. I am not sure whether the buildings have even received the Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO).

In other words we can have the keys to the house but WE CAN'T MOVE IN YET.

This is how some developers try to rip of their customers in Malaysia. I am wondering how many of you have faced these problems or is our's an isolated incident.

Will inform you about the ongoing saga in full detail later. We still want to give them a chance.


Anonymous said...

yes, does not make sense. if the payment is one daylate, and even through no fault of your own, you have to pay late fees. If the *developer* is late by three months or even more, then they don't pay you a cent.

I feel your pain.. how can they, especially a reputable developer, hand over possession when the building is not complete? Really ridiculous.

And to think this is implicitly sanctioned by the government through inaction and lax enforcement!

Yeah, keep talking about 30% must be in Bumi's hands, AP protectionism, NEP - but where is the *real* value created for the nation?

Lrong said...

Man, I shake my head again for Malaysia... surely there must be some place to lodge complaints against such shoddy work and practice... what country do we have, anyway...

Strizzt said...

Hm, that's not right. How can a consumer be made to pay for something that has not even been finished or ready for use yet?

Surely you are not the only victim here. I wonder what happened to the other buyers...


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