Note 1: Article was first published at 2pm, 14th September 2016.
Note 2: Updated at 4pm for more clarity on M1 and StarHub’s stance.
Note 3: Updated at 5.20pm with more inputs from Singtel, and an additional option to avoid the admin fee.
Registered interest for the new iPhone 7? It’s now time to reserve your preferred variety and collection arrangements.
Keen customers of our local telcos would probably have registered their interest to pre-orderApple’s new flagship smartphone. Singtel customers who’ve indicated their interest would probably have received an email to remind them to reserve their phone today (14th September) from 3pm. Through the reservation process, you can specify the iPhone 7 model, colour, capacity and preferred method of purchase/collection options.
While all sounds well, we noticed a small note in the T&C section of the email reminder sent out to reserve the new phone that raised our eyebrows:-
Yup, that highlighted text in green is new.
Let’s face it, nobody likes admin fees, but it is part and parcel of a business organization to add a cost to such admin tasks and its related maintenance matters to quantify the related backend paperwork. So it’s understandable if you’re signing up a new mobile line, depending on the prevailing promotional terms, you may have to cough up an admin fee.
However, if you’re already an existing customer of the telco, we find it hard to justify yet another admin fee of S$10.70 to be levied just to re-contract with a new phone; it’s almost as if you’re paying a penalty to be their customer. More so, you’re tied to the telco for another two years and the cost isn’t absorbed as part of your monthly payment obligations. Yet that’s exactly what Singtel is doing it seems, starting with the new iPhone 7.
Looks like this new admin fee will be effective from 15th September, just when the new iPhones are about to be launched.
Just to be clear, the usual expected norm is you pay admin charges + any handphone offset charges should you change to a lower tier plan when your contractual period isn’t over.
The new rule effectively makes you pay the admin fee regardless of the state of your existing plan when you want to re-contract with Singtel – whether your previous contract has expired, or you’re at the 21st month (when telcos usually allow you to re-contract) or if you’re still half-way through the current plan. As long as there’s a change to your current plan, you pay the admin charge. Should you downgrade the plan prematurely or end the contract altogether prematurely, other charges will come into play to recover the mobile phone offset offered for your ongoing plan – these aspects don’t change. Here are further inputs from Singtel on this matter:-
The S$10.70 administrative fee covers the handling and processing cost for the purchase of a subsidised handset for recontracting customers. It will not apply when customers upgrade to a higher tier Combo Mobile Plan (example, upgrade from Combo 2 to Combo 3).
According to inputs from Singtel and as seen in the above exchange on the Singtel’s Facebook page, there are a few escape options where Singtel’s re-contract admin fee won’t apply though:
- Re-contract to higher tier plan
- Re-contract online (via singtelshop.com or easymobile.sg)
- If you are a Singtel Circle nominated keylines, Red Prestige customer, or a Singtel UOB credit card holder
So if you’re a Singtel customer, the easiest way moving forward to avoid the admin fee is to re-contract online.
Our HardwareZone community members have also caught wind of this change and there’s adiscussion thread dedicated to the mandatory admin fee over here.
Does this admin charge for re-contracting also apply to other telcos?
In short, no.
We quickly reached out to check on the policies from other telcos and we are glad to confirm that that M1 and StarHub don’t levy an admin fee for eligible re-contractual periods (when your old contract has expired) – no matter whichever plan you will be signing up next. You can also re-contract before your contract expires and not incur any charges – so long as you don’t downgrade your plan since it will affect the handset subsidies provided for the former contract.
For more iPhone 7 related stories, follow us here, and do factor the admin fee consideration along with the expected telco price plans across all the three telcos.