AUGUST 3 — If there’s one company that is the poster child for why monopolies shouldn’t exist, I think it’s Touch ‘n Go.
It’s cute that on the company’s landing page you get this description of what the company thinks it is.
“Touch ‘n Go is the cornerstone of the digital transformation within Malaysia’s mobility ecosystem, pioneering seamless consumer experiences for millions across the nation. At the forefront of the Fintech revolution, our every effort enhances how this nation lives, works and plays.”
My own summary would not be so kind. What do you call a company that monopolises tollgate fare and public transportation payments? A really bad idea.
Case in point: the nightmare that is trying to procure their latest NFC-enabled card.
My biggest problem with Touch ‘n Go is that you cannot reload the company’s cards online.
You either have to rely on their top-up machines that aren’t working half the time, like RapidKL’s escalators, or pay a surcharge to top up the cards at a retail outlet.
As a former frequent public transport user I have lost count of the times I have tried to top up my card only to be told at the RapidKL counter that Touch ‘n Go systems were offline.
RapidKL has also declined to join the cashless revolution and still insists on requiring (only selected) paper notes and coins to pay.
I do not miss digging for coins or buying way too many candy bars just to break up my ringgit notes.
Seeing how it’s been decades and neither RapidKL nor Touch ‘n Go have improved anything, I can only conclude whoever designs those systems never actually uses what they designed on a daily basis.
The new NFC card promises easy reloads via the TNG app but alas, you can’t actually order it via the app as it is perpetually sold out.
Somehow scalpers have been able to procure those cards and have been selling them at ridiculously marked up prices, the latest high being over RM200 when its original selling price is RM10.
The only way you can get the card is either pay those terrible prices or scrounge up an expired Touch ‘n Go card because I’ve been tipped that the company’s offices will exchange your expired cards with NFC ones for free.
Instead of trying to get the cards into the hands of more users, it seems the company is launching a prepaid Visa card.
How does any of this make sense? It doesn’t.
The true solution to this would simply be for Touch ‘n Go not to exist. QR codes are easy to deploy — let people pay for tolls and transit rides with their e-wallets or credit cards.
Nothing good comes out of a system that is more inconvenience than convenience and is as reliable as our politicians are at being ridiculous in Parliament.
Speaking of bad things in Parliament, it is a relief that the proposed anti-smoking bill has been sent back for further deliberation.
What I don’t get is how anyone with sense would fight for it in its current form and yet that is what so many in the medical fraternity, including our Health DG, did.
Why did they willfully ignore the part about letting cops treat potential offenders (smokers) as though they were drug kingpins — body and device searches, busting down their doors and all without warrants?
Who thought it was a good idea and not at all overreaching in allowing cops to body search minors?
Malaysians need to understand that with power comes responsibility as well as accountability — and that goes for corporate monopolies as well as law enforcement.
As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely and I am very sure that I am not the only one tired of living in the fallout of too much power.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.