Consumers often find that they have been misled by advertisements — the offer is not what it appears to be. Many choose not to pursue the matter further but not Bryan Chua of Tawau.
In 2008, he took MBF Cards (M’sia) Sdn Bhd or MBF to the Tribunal for Consumer Claims for its refusal to give him his 37” LCD TV and won his case. (However, MBF is applying for judicial review to overturn the Tribunal’s decision.)
FREE with Got ‘5’
For Bryan Chua it all started when he decided to join the MBF Cards promotion called the “Get Smart, Get Three ‘5’, Get a FREE Samsung 37” LCD TV!”
To be the first 100 cardholders each month to win the TV the cardholder had to:
1) Charge a minimum of RM50 to his MBF card.
2) Retain transaction slips with approval codes ending with a “5” for purchases made within the same calendar month.
3) Only upon collecting 3 of these transaction slips, call 03-2167 0555.
On 20 June 2007, Chua called the number listed in the brochure as he had collected 3 transaction slips with the approval code ending with a “5” He had expected to hear good news but instead his claim was rejected.
According to MBF, Chua did not qualify for the TV because 2 out of his 3 transactions were carried out with the same merchant (Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd) on the same day.
He was then informed that under Clause 5 of the terms and conditions, “Each CardMember is entitled to claim only one qualifying transaction only with the approval code ending with ‘5’ from the same card acceptance terminal of a merchant on the same date of transaction.”
MBF further stated that the terms and conditions of the promotion were available on its website. However Chua felt (rightly we think) that such an important term should have been made known in the brochures and stickers promoting the competition and not made available to only those who have access to the website. (Brochures and stickers only mentioned that terms and conditions apply.)
In filing his claim with the Tribunal, he pointed out that:
“I have spent my money by using MBF card in order to be entitled to entries for the promotion/contest. ... I feel that this is very unfair to consumers to hide the important terms and mislead consumers to use their credit cards ....”
MBF should not assume that consumers know about their promotion in details, it should assume consumers do not know about the promotion and all the terms and conditions. And the important terms have to be printed on the brochure to alert consumers at a glance when they look at the brochure. Most importantly, not all the cardholders are Internet users. MBF cannot expect every cardholder to be knowledgeable about the computer or Internet.
MBF has violated the Consumer Protection Act 1999, ACT 599, Laws of Malaysia, item 1 & item 4 of Section 14- Gifts, Prizes, Free Offers, etc which read as:
Item 1. No person shall offer any gift or other free item:
a. With the intention of not providing it; or
b. With the intention of not providing it as offered
Item 4. Where a person imposes a condition on the offer, he shall:
a. describe the condition clearly;
b. ensure that the description of the condition is conspicuously placed near the expression “free” or “free offer”, as the case may be; and
c. ensure that the print of the description of the conditions is at least half as large as the print used for the expression “free” or “free offer”.
On 6 December 2007, the Tribunal awarded Chua the 37” LCD Samsung TV and MBF was to hand it over within 14 days.
However as in February 2008, he had yet to receive his TV. He has been told that MBF is applying for a judicial review of the case.