Friday, March 23, 2012

Agreement / Contract Scam with Hidden Clauses

All of us have to be honest that very few people would read terms and conditions other than those in a job, loan or business (B2B) contract. Sometimes we do skimp through, but at a very fast pace, which is as good as not looking at it at all.

Even when we are signing the contract for a new employment, the HR manager of the company would also summarise the contract for us. When we are signing any contract regarding real estate purchase or rental, the housing agents would summarize all clauses to us. When we are signing up for any mobile phone plan, the sales person would state that early termination would be subjected to penalties.

How about terms and conditions for entering a local school?

Generally, human beings are lazy. We also tend to let our guards down when dealing with Singapore schools and their associates - we trust them fully. Singaporeans, including us, have been making too much assumptions.

There is also another factor for causing the negligence - Singaporeans love "face". If you are going to stare at any "not-so-important" contract for long and try not to leave out any single word, you may eventually feel the pressure of others thinking that you are "kiasi" (afraid to die).

We refer to Yahoo!SG News on NTU Alumni Club’s ‘shady’ recruitment tactics anger students.

To summarise, NTU Alumni Club's (NTUAC) has a convocation package before graduation for NTU students to sign up. Each package at the price of $198 includes the graduation gown, a plaque and a solo studio shoot, which is reasonably cheap on the surface. Moreover, it comes with free membership in the NTUAC, which allows members to use its facilities and enjoy other perks. However, there is a clause hidden deep in the terms and conditions fine print that states that the student has to pay two years' worth of membership fees.

Many students who have signed up for the package are shocked when the $240 bill arrive around nine months later. Those who wished to terminate their membership before the end of two years would be subjected to a hefty penalty fee of $800.

Some of the most popular comments:
A scam in disguise!

Singapore Handicap Man:
this is ah long style kill you all from behind. he did the same thing to all poor singaporean too.

1 Student $240 , 1000 student = $240,000 , NTUAC = HUAT AH,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Laughing to the Bank

What's the NTU president doing ?

I guess in the future nobody will want to buy the package anymore. Serve ntuac right.

FYI, I was caught in this too and I graduated in 2009. After paying for 2 years, I was asked to pay for the registration fee, bla bla bla which added up to be $1000++ before I can terminate it. They claimed that it was in the clause when we signed the agreement.
gOod luck!

To me, its considered a scam, but its done "lawfully" yet utterly shallow. Its such a grey area. laws should be made for all terms and conditions with regards to money matters to be specified and made clear in only specific part of the terms and conditions of all the rest of the terms and conditions.

in singapore, you must always read the small letter at the bottom of the page more than the captial letters.

Hunt Seng:
Bold the fine print, make it bigger for people to see. When I sell things, I will tell people about the flaws of my product, if they accept it then they buy but if they don't accept it, they don;t buy. Please be honest to your customer. When your customer buy something, you want them to be happy with what they buy.

I truly believe that transparency is the key issue here.

Students should just boycott NTU and stop giving donations every year. Where and who are the donations going to?

its a bad long term strategy

an NTU graduate is still a 'child'. even adults can fall prey to many 'fine prints' trap. just be more careful during work and take this as a lesson...anyway, fortunately it is not an 'expensive lesson' ....

absolutely despicable and disgusting.and to come from a SG Uni, thats so shameful

The onus and responsibility for anything one signs lies with the consumer, and from a legal perspective NTUAC has done no wrong.............JUST BECAUSE IT'S LEGAL DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT.

LOL Everyone:
Hahaha, I thought they are smart. The club is even smarter. Make $$$ just a stroke of the pen

That's NTU's last lesson taught to all graduating students. In order to earn your degree, you must learn the lesson of "read the fine print"; "good deals should be scrutinized" and "there's no free lunch".

There is also a thread at Hardwarezone forum titled NTU Alumni club stopping low to make money regarding it.

Only after this news breaks out, we are aware that NTU and its alumni club are not associated, or rather, not run by the same management. Many NTU students would probably have the same misconception as us; therefore, they do not suspect anything wrong with the contract.

By law, NTUAC has done nothing wrong as the clauses are stated inside the agreement signed by the "victims". However, many people feel that NTUAC should be more transparent about this very important clause. Obviously, when victims sign up for the package, they are in for the cheap offer. The salesperson who has sold the package should have highlighted about the additional membership fee.

What if you have bought a house for your family to live in, but only to realise months later the agreement has stated that you can only move in twenty years later? What if you are new to Singapore and you buy a car, and only to realise that you have to pay COE when the salesperson should have advised you earlier?

CASE has long ago advised drinks stalls in Singapore to put up the prices of the drinks properly. This is an indication that Singapore government is expecting transparency in businesses.

Some people do state that $240 for two years of membership is considered cheap. However, the students seem to be not interested in using the facilities and little do they have time to enjoy the luxury lifestyle after graduating. Pace in Singapore is fast and fresh graduates have to start fighting for a foot in the competitive working society soon.

This incident has cast a very bad image to Singapore.

What we can learnt from this incident is that everyone should read through all terms and conditions before signing on the document - never trust any organisation no matter how established they are.

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