Saturday, September 5, 2009

Credit Card Purchase Verification / Liability

I recently got a bill for my HSBC credit card and it included an annual fee charge of more than a hundred dollars. So I called them up to ask them to waive it. I always say, 'would it be possible for you to waive the charge?' when really, we all know that this is not only possible, but something that the banks are more than happy to do.

Sidetrack: UOB has an interesting twist to this. When you call them up and get the automated 'press 1 for credit card, press 2 to.. ' they include a 'press x to waive your credit card annual fee'! So I tried it once and it was processed without any human intervention. However, some time later, I forgot that I had done it, and tried it again. The funny thing was that it also processed my second request for the annual fee waiver! So in the next bill, I got more than a hundred dollars in credit for the second waiver. So I called them up and told the person to remove the windfall. She said 'thank you for your honesty.'

Anyway back to UOB. The lady of course was very nice and more than willing to waive the annual fee. However, she also said I needed to use the card at least once. I said, sure. She said, 'OK I'll waive it now.' It's just a formality, I didn't really need to use the card. But just for the sake of completeness, I decided to use the card to buy a $10 gift card from for my Kindle book purchases.

Now this is new. An hour later, someone from HSBC called me up and asked whether I had just used the card to spend at Amazon for a gift card. I said, yes. He said, good, just a routine check.

I like this routine check, especially since we were told recently that we aren't going to get much protection from banks if something goes wrong with our credit cards. (Yesterday, the banks announced that there will be a $100 liability cap if no negligence is involved. I'm not sure of the details, however.) I never worried about my overseas purchases as I'd assumed that the banks would always reverse the charge if it was fraudulent. I'm not so sure now. Hopefully the 'consumer watchdog' in Singapore and the banks clarify things soon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

GMail Updated!

Those were fun times on the Internets. When Google announced in March 2004 that it was giving out 1000mb of free email to users, it changed everything. Harddisk space then became 'free' and not a cost concern anymore. People became so excited about having so much free space on the Internet.
Google had a limited release of 'invites' for people to try out the service, and they were doing crazy things just to try out the service. I myself paid I think 10USD to buy an invite from someone on eBay, and in turn sold invites to others after I got my GMail account which included free invites for anyone.
The most fantastic thing about GMail was, and still is, its interface. Everything was so seamless, so natural. Emails had a new metaphor: conversations, which strung discreet emails into one coherent whole. Everything was so forward looking and progressive. It became the best email service available.
However, all these years, there had been one feature that GMail lacked, and this omission was most glaring because it was supposedly a very simple feature that most email services provide: the ability to select your email's recipients by choosing from your contact list. It only offered to Autocomplete the email addresses of your recipients which was okay if you could remember how the email looked like, but this was of course not ideal. So I couldn't understand how this supposedly 'simple' technical issue couldn't be solved. Most interestingly, this issue was absent in the Google Apps version of GMail. It's most incredible and just blows my mind.
So it's with great joy that I read today in GMail's blog that they have successfully rolled out this feature for the 'normal' GMail users! At last GMail has taken care of the 'feature request' that people have asked for so long.
From Gmail blog