• Category Archives Malaysia
  • And They Wonder Why?

    I came across this article in today’s newspaper:


    This came as absolutely no surprise to me.  I am European and I am definitely overweight myself.  When I came to Malaysia first time in the late 90’s I was stunned by the beautiful woman here, but I have noticed that it has gone downhill very quick since then.  A few month back I was spending a few nights at a resort in Port Dickson, and it struck me during breakfast – I reckon there was about 100 people at the breakfast and I reckon about half of these were woman.  With the exception of one girl (around 7-8 years old) every single woman at that breakfast buffet was overweight and I guess about half of them severely obese (including all of the kids with the before mentioned exception).

    I shot the photo of the article above in today’s newspaper.  Now, let me zoom out a bit:


    And there you have it.  I am overweight because I don’t exercise enough and happen to love good food.  Malaysians are obese because they have taken up American junk food like I have never seen anywhere else.  Kuala Lumpur, and everywhere else in Malaysia, is packed with McDonald, KFC, Pizza Hut and a bunch of local rip offs that definitely does not improve the situation (in fact as written elsewhere, one of these, the Secret Recipe, is downright dangerous).

    It is scary and it has over the past 10 years turned Malaysia fat!  Oh – and for the record – Malaysians usually get really defensive when criticized, but before you go ballistic on me do yourself a favor   Next time you walk on the street pay attention to kids.  Count the first 10 kids you see and let me know right here how many of those were overweight.

  • Creative Ways of Pissing off Your Customers

    I have written before about restaurants in Kuala Lumpur with poor service, poor quality, poor hygiene and general poor value.  Don’t however think for one moment that Malaysian companies will limit themselves to such simple means of pissing off their customers.

    La Bodega seems to take this to a whole new level.  For the past year or so they have literally bombarded my email inbox with spam advertising.  We are not talking an occasional email – we are talking in average about 8-16 a month – no kiddin’.  They all end with this disclaimer:

    The Privacy Policy link, which at least appears to be working, will display the following page:

    It appears that the owners of La Bodega is using some third party service, and they claim not to be spamming.

    I have written emails to aliya@gastrodome.com.my, I have written emails to postmaster@gastrodome.com.my and I have clicked on the links to no avail.  I am STILL receiving countless emails.  In fact I got a sneaking suspicion that each time I click those “click here” I just get more emails as a result.  I sincerely hope that “aliya@gastrodome.com.my” end up in every single spam filter on this planet (and I have reported this to spamcop for a start).

    I have also written several times to info@gastrodome.com.my – the email listed on their web-site, but I guess they already got so much spam on that one that it is a waste of time to even mention that here.

    The first link with their privacy policy, appears to be working:
    It mentions that you can write to abuse@weblite.com.my – I have done that too.

    Trying to get removed result in a page like this:

    Well – it state that I have been successfully removed, however take a look at the top left corner.  I would not go so far as to claim that was a success.  And notice the campaign named “LB Set Menu 090712″.  What is the point of getting removed from a campaign that you already received the spam from, when apparently a few weeks later they make a new one and put your email into that too.

    Trying to get removed completely is even worse:

    This time TWO SQL errors – and need I say – the emails keep coming.

    I tried to call the phone number in the email, only to be asked to call another number to talk to the people responsible for marketing – someone named “Shani”.  However, Shani was conveniently on leave.  I did however talk to some assistant who informed me that when people call to complain she would “USUALLY” (I am not kidding – those were her words) remove them from the database manually.  In other words – I am not the first and they are very aware that their system does not work.  I asked the assistant how Gastrodome intended to compensate me for my wasted time – but to this she had no reply.

    Well – screw that – I will punish them by never again spending any money in any of their outlets.

    Update July 10, 2012:

    After 2 calls and still receiving spam I published this blog post and send them the link.  THAT at least provoked a response.  I received the following mail from them:

    RE: Link
     From: “Aliya”
     To: “‘Lars Boegild Thomsen'”
     CC: “‘Matthieu Lartigue'” , “‘shanee'”

    Hi Mr. Thomsen,
    Your email has been removed from our database. You will no longer receive
    any email from us in the future.
    Thank you.

    To which I replied:

    Re: Link
     From: Lars Boegild Thomsen
     To: “Aliya”
     CC: “‘Matthieu Lartigue'” , “‘shanee'”

    On Tuesday 10 July 2012 11:15:55 Aliya wrote:
    > Your email has been removed from our database. You will no longer receive
    > any email from us in the future.
    That would be appreciated, but it is simply not good enough.  I just counted
    and I have received exactly 473 spam mails from you over the past 3 years
    although I can guarantee you that I have never signed up for anything.  473!!!
    I have on several occasions clicked on the “Remove link” which have failed for
    years.  I have on several occasions written to you, to info@gastrodome.com.my,
    to postmaster@gastrodome.com.my and asked to be removed, I have for the past
    weeks copied your messages to spamcop.net – all to no avail whatsoever.
    Not until I made a blog post (for all – AND Google to see) and spend time
    calling you (which I had to make several calls since calling the number on
    your web-page I was asked to call another number) did I get a reaction.
    YOU are sending unsolicited mail – a.k.a. SPAM! and you are doing so using a
    broken system that will not allow the recipient to get removed automatically.
    That is NOT responsible and ethical email marketing practices as you claim in
    the email.  It is annoying and it’s a huge waste of time for the people you
    want to attract as customers.  I have now wasted more than an hour on this
    crap and I expect to get compensated significantly.
    And the fact that you – during our conversation on the phone – said that you
    have received many emails asking to be removed, and that you usually do so -
    strongly indicated that I am not the only person you have annoyed to no end.
    Responsible and ethical email marketing practices my butt – irresponsible and
    unethical is what it is – period!

    It is just not good enough!

  • Customers? Well, Fuck ‘Em

    I wrote yesterday about the incredibly inconvenient convenience stores of Kuala Lumpur.  Today, when out for lunch, I saw another good example.  This time it was the local 7-Eleven receiving new stock:

    There is plenty of space to park a little to the side, so that potential customers doesn’t have to squeeze by the truck (the door is behind – very close behind), but no way the staff would be that considerate – screw the customers – they are obviously not very important.

  • Most Inconvenient Convenience Store (or: Fraud in Broad Daylight)

    A few years back there was a few 7-Elevens around in KL and some typical Chinese “convenience stores” but not much else.  For some bizarre and completely incomprehensible reason, 4 or 5 years ago, new ones started popping up everywhere.  I would guess I currently have at least 15 of them within 5 minutes walking distance.

    They all have one thing in common: they are all inconvenient.  A common trait seems to be that they are staffed with complete morons and the managers are appointed from the least moronic of these.  The staff is without exception rude, slow, lazy and the shop managers wouldn’t dream of ordering new stock before they have run out of the old one – with the result they are constantly out of the most popular items (but got plenty of whatever crap nobody want to buy).

    However annoying these shops are in general, a few month ago a new one opened about 50 meters from where I stay and this one appears to have taken the “inconvenient” part to a whole new level.

    I don’t even know exactly where to begin.  On the surface they are exactly like the rest of the shops, and yet – they appear to have somehow managed to find staff that are even more clueless than the usual stock.  A few weeks ago I entered the shop and they were playing music so loud the staff couldn’t hear what I was asking them.  Instead of taking that as a clue to turn down the volume, instead the staff tried to make me shout my order.  The only thing I shouted was asking them to turn down the volume, but the staff shouted back that the manager had told them to play at this level.  Needless to say I gave up and walked to the nearby 7-Eleven (which at least don’t play music at nightclub levels – that one only stinks like a sewer).

    Another thing I noticed in this shop was that they always gave wrong returns, but up until yesterday I never really thought about it.  Out of general habit I always make an estimate in my head and if the amount requested is more than a few Ringgit of my estimate I know something is wrong.

    Yesterday is the first time I figured out the staff’s approach.  Notice the following receipt:

    The first 3 items on this receipt was from the previous customer.  In other words – the staff punch in the items and have the cash registry show the sub-total, then they let that sub-total carry over to the next customer.  If it works – presumably they pocket the money from both transactions – if not they just apologize and alter it (if the owners ever read this check the security tapes – the exact time is on the receipt above).

    Immediately following the above example I was talking to a French couple who just left the shop – and they had been cheated in exactly the same way several times.  I have also seen people be short changed – and as mentioned – I have experienced it myself a number of times (only – yesterday is the first time I kept the false receipt).

    If this had happened once or twice over a long period, it could possibly be considered an honest mistake, but not so – let me stress that this happens often and consistently.  It is absolutely amazing that a scam such as this can run for as long as it has run already.  The before mentioned French couple had contacted KK several times through their web-site with no obvious results.

    I will send a link to this blog entry to KK and see if they get back to me.  If they do I will add their comments here – if they don’t (which is more likely) I will mention that too.

    Update July 10, 2012:

    I did send them an inquiry through the web-site.  Apparently it just generates an email of which I received a copy and the other copy went to: enquiry@kkgroup.my. Needless to say that now, after 1 week, I have not heard anything back and by now it’s probably too late to check the security cameras anyway.

  • See No Evil

    From today’s news:

    What is interesting here is why on earth this is news worthy.  Just outside KFC on Bukit Bintang is a police truck parked just about 24 hours a day – just across the street from a shop selling loads of fake jerseys.  Go to Petaling Street or Central Market and they could shut down every single shop – they are ALL selling fake goods of various kinds.  Go to Sungai Wang (large shopping mall on Bukit Bintang) and you can’t kick your way through the place for “Angry Birds” branded fake goods.

    I am not complaining about the fake goods – I couldn’t care less, but I do find it amusing when an article like this pop up in the local news.  What they are really saying here is that someone forgot to pay.

  • Cheap Cock

    First of all – let me apologize for the title of this posting.  Honestly – it was not my idea, but really – it is what this post is all about:

    Personally I would probably have gone a bit American on that one and called it a “Fuel Valve” – but never mind – a cock it is.

    First a tiny little bit of background.  I was having a problem with a bike leaking fuel when parked on the side stand.  I took the fuel cock apart and cleaned it up but there is a tiny o-ring in there that had gone a bit brittle, so I went out hunting for a new one.

    I had a hard time finding that o-ring in Malaysia, however I did find it on an American web-site specializing in Kawasaki parts (the motorcycle is a Modenas Jaguh 175 – which essentially is a license built Kawasake BN125 Eliminator honed up a bit) and they did indeed have the o-ring and the complete fuel cock – albeit they called it a tap.  In this example I have added both to illustrate the pricing:

    $65 for the tap was a bit expensive and the thing is damn heavy, however $3 for the o-ring wasn’t too bad, so I tried to order it.  The problem was they wanted $120 – I am not joking – $120 to ship the darn thing to Malaysia.  An o-ring!

    Never mind – back to searching and eventually I actually did find a shop with an OEM version in stock.  Here comes the killer – RM 20!  I am NOT joking – 20 Malaysian Ringgit, which right at this moment is US$ 6.51 – complete with o-rings and all.

    Trust me – I can live with it being a cock rather than a tap or a valve.  Here’s some close-ups:

    If that was all I probably wouldn’t have bothered writing this post, but seriously – look at the thing!  Here is an exploded view from the Kawasaki BN125 service manual:

    Think about this for a while.  The darn thing consist of 3 rubber seals, 1 rubber diaphragm, a handful of screws, 4 pieces of metal that is both molded and machined, 2 fairly complex injection molded plastic pieces and a few washers.

    So – someone in Malaysia or China (more likely) actually went through the trouble of taking an original apart, carefully draw up each piece, create injection molds, produce the thing, put it together, ship it to Malaysia, store it in a shop for a while and then sell it to me.  And I am pretty sure they did that for a profit – not to save me a 100 bucks in shipping.

    $6.50!!!!! – how on earth is that possible?  It is mind boggling if you think about it and it is a thing of beauty!

  • Once a Third World Country Always a Third World Country

    I just experienced a prime example of why Malaysia still is a third world country and will be for the foreseeable future.

    Malaysia got a few companies manufacturing motorcycles.  One of these are called “Syarikat Motosikal dan Enjin Nasional Sdn. Bhd.”, a.k.a. Modenas.  Modenas in turn is owned by DRB-HICOM, which is the largest conglomerate in Malaysia with an annual revenue of over RM 6 billion.

    Now, one of the bikes Modenas produce is a license build Kawasaki Eliminator, called the Modenas Jaguh.  I have considered getting one of these but most of the ones for sale on the second hand market are quite worn down, so I considered buying a new one.  According to Modenas’ web-site:

    RM 6000 is really not too bad.  Especially considering most of the second hand ones goes for around RM 2500 and are 12-14 years old.

    Unfortunately calling the local resellers didn’t prove very productive, so I went back to the web-site:

    So I decided to give their sales and marketing office a call.  This was on a normal Tuesday at around 2.30pm.  I think I called 2 or 3 times and nobody bothered to pick up the phone – nothing – nada.

    Then I decided to give the factory a call and got through to some receptionist that actually proved quite helpful.  She gave me a mobile number for “someone in sales”.    So I called that mobile number a few times and again – nobody picked up.

    By this time I had already started browsing Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda’s web-sites, but after half an hour – much to my surprise – I actually received a return-call from the mobile number I had called earlier.  Unfortunately all he could tell me was that Modenas stopped making the Jaguh years ago.

    So – a conglomerate with an annual revenue of more than 6 billion Ringgit, owning a motorcycle manufacturer that have apparently produced in excess of one million bikes (2008 figure) –

    1. Can’t afford – or couldn’t be bothered – to update their web-site
    2. Can’t afford – or just can’t be bothered – to pick up the phone – IN THEIR SALES OFFICE!

    As a result I probably wasted almost an hour chasing something that doesn’t exist. Ok – I just called local, but say I was located in Europe and wanted to import motorcycles – my next call would be to China – not Malaysia and most certainly not Modenas.

    It is incredible that someone can be that uninterested in making themselves convenient for their customers.

    Not only is this third world mentality incredible rude towards potential customers, it is also plainly illegal in Malaysia.  The Malaysian Consumer Protection Act 1999 clearly states:

    Considering Modenas no longer produce the Jaguh, I think it’s clear that they “do not intend to offer for supply”.  I think I’ll consider filing a complaint.

  • Better Options

    Dome in KLCC has got the dubious honor of being the only place repeatedly mentioned here (see: here and here).  You could accuse me of being an utter moron for going back to a place that is that certifiably bad, however, they do have quite a nice location outside KLCC overlooking the park and well in my defense, I have never before been there at breakfast time.

    Their menu advertised a “Big Breakfast” for RM 25.  One thing I noticed is that while it seems fairly cheap in fact this does not include coffee or juice.  Most outlets in KL is serving a big breakfast including coffee and juice for around RM 30++.  In reality Dome’s offer would come up to RM 40 or so – if coffee and juice was to be included.  The “Big Breakfast” included “Eggs as you like” and other stuff, so I went ahead and ordered one.  When we got around to the eggs, I asked – as I always do – to have them made as an omelet.  This caused some confusion and the waiter explained: “we only serve eggs as sunny side up or scrambled”.  I explained that I don’t like that, but really wanted my eggs made as an omelet, and the waiter went to fetch the manager.  A few minutes later the manager arrived and explained to me that their customers only “liked” either scrambled eggs or sunny side up.  He also explained that in the past they had customers who liked omelets but that was years back and definitely not possible any longer.

    This may not seems like a bit deal, but think about it.  Why would they not want to serve an omelet?  There can really only be 2 or 3 possibilities:

    1. They train monkeys to do the “cooking” – not qualified kitchen staff

    2. They prepare everything in advance and nothing is actually cooked when ordered

    3. They couldn’t care less about what the customers want

    Needless to say that I decided to walk to the next outlet (that is probably less than 30 meters) and have my breakfast at Chinoz (I think the full name is “Chinoz on the Park“).

    Chinoz is actually quite a nice place.  They had a breakfast buffet (various bread, cereals + some local Malaysian favorites) with coffee and juice included for RM 23, and for RM 33 an item from the a la carte menu could be included – for example – an omelet.  In other words, Chinoz was not only cheaper than Dome, but also had a significant better choice, and more to the point – they was able to serve the eggs as I like them not as they dictate their customers ought to like them.

    But that is not all really.  The staff at Chinoz are, and have always been, quite switched on.  They are attentive, courteous and generally seem to enjoy working there – which is in sharp contrast to Dome where nobody – from manager down seem to give a hoot about the place or their customers and all the staff seem more busy chit chatting than actually paying attention to their customers (in fact, they have taken “ignoring customers” to a completely different level).  Also Chinoz actually leave so much space around their tables that you can walk to them without bumping into 10 people on the way, whereas Dome have squeezed so many tables in that it is quite impossible to reach them without annoying the other guests.

    It is beyond me why anybody would spend a single Ringgit at Dome when Chinoz is right next to it.  Both offer the same view of the park, Chinoz pretty much serve everything Dome can come up with and then some.  But most important – as a customer at Chinoz I have always felt quite welcome, whereas the few times I have visited Dome I mostly had a feeling they would prefer if I left as soon as possible.  Well, no worries – I have in fact walked out the last couple of times I have been there, I did walk out this time and I will do so in the future.

  • Why?

    One of the latest monstrosities on Bukit Bintang is the oddly named Fahrenheit 88 (see pic).

    Never mind Fahrenheit is exclusively American these days, but 88?

    If I am not mistaken, 88 Fahrenheit is roughly 31 degrees Celsius and I find that somewhat odd. What are they trying to say and what’s the bloody point?  It’s not as if 31 degrees is sort of not cool – and not really hot too – just sort of lukewarm really.