Madhavi Rai: After moving away from Kuala Lumpur my husband and I have never subscribed to Astro. Since we don’t spend much time at home to be able to watch TV, we were using Hypp TV. Recently, my husband and I thought that it would be good to subscribe to Astro since he misses having the luxury of watching live sports at home.
Last Monday (3/7/17) I submitted an online application via Astro’s website to subscribe and open a new Astro account.
The next day, Tuesday (4/7/17) I received a call from someone from Astro (I assume was a telemarketer) to inform me that Astro has received my application for a new account.
She then proceeded to share with me the different packages and what are the package options I have if I were to subscribe to Astro.
Now here comes the twist, of what would have been a normal sign up process.
Next she highlighted that since I’m ‘Indian’ (assumption made from my name), Astro has a policy for Indians and foreigners to compulsorily sign up for auto debit payment method. (No other payment option).
I was puzzled. The conversation went something like this…
Me: Okay… I will think about it. But I’m not an Indian neither am I a foreigner… So that means I can decide later on my preferred payment method right?
Astro: But the name stated in the application is Madhavi Rai; that means you are Indian right?
Me: No I’m not. I am of mix parentage (Malaysian Nepali + Malaysian Chinese) and I’m Malaysian too.
Astro: Okay… If that’s the case I will put you as a Chinese so you can change your mind later
Me: But why does Astro have such ruling?
Astro: I know it sounds like racism but it has nothing to do with it… Astro…err…it’s just like that.
I could sense how uncomfortable she was because she sounded like a Malaysian Indian girl over the phone because obviously this is a purely racist policy.
Next day (5/7/2017) I received a call from a Ms Devi from Astro. She told me that my application to subscribe to Astro has been rejected.
I asked her Why? Her reply was…
Devi: “Because ma’am you don’t want to pick auto debit; Indians and foreigners MUST choose auto debit”
Me: “But I’m not an Indian…”
Devi: “Ma’am you are ‘others’ right? Lain lain? Well then you are considered a foreigner”
(Lord have mercy…)
Me: “I’m not a foreigner; I’m a Malaysian!”
Devi: “Yes ma’am but you see…you are considered others as you are not Chinese or Malay or Indian so you are a foreigner”
Me: “How can you say that I’m a foreigner when I’m a true blue born and bred Malaysian? Are you telling me that simply because there is no option for my race on your application form you say and assume that I’m a foreigner?”
Devi: “Ma’am I’ve got no time to argue with you; whether you want Astro or not I don’t care”
HANG UP ON ME!
My thoughts on this experience.
- it’s a shame that Astro has biased racist policies and stereotypes Malaysians based on the racial backgrounds.
- When the whole world is rejecting racism and racist policies, it is sad and disgusting to witness a giant corporation (Astro in this case) and Malaysia, a country that is proud of its ethnic diversity composition regress to such policies.
- Astro should really and I mean REALLY spend some serious time training and improving their customer service personnel.