Ben’s Burger has closed shop in Ipoh Parade

Haven’t eaten at Ben’s Burger before. It was very visible from the road and located next to one of the main entrances to Ipoh Parade (opposite of Sam Tet secondary school).

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Drove past it about a week ago, and it looked rather dim from the outside. Suspected that it is no longer in business. Happened to be in Ipoh Parade yesterday. Took the effort to walk over there just to confirm (there is actually no entrance to Ben’s Burger from Ipoh Parade). Saw a few Snow Mountain workers outside. They were there to take an extractor fan away.

So Ben’s Burger is indeed closed. Tables, chairs and other bits and pieces are still there. From what I heard, it was closed about a month ago. Ben and Lynette however is still in business, located on ground floor, inside Ipoh Parade. BTW both of them belong to the same company, The Secret Garden (TSG) group. The take up of vacated lot in Ipoh Parade seems rather quick, as there is already a banner outside Ben’s Burger indicating an ice cream shop, it seems, is going to take up the space. Better than any of the AEON it seems.

Public Bank SecureSign device how-to

Finally got our SecureSign device from Public Bank for online business e-banking. Looks similar to HSBC’s security token:
SecureSign PBB
However the way it is used is very different from HSBC’s. There are two stages in carrying out an online transaction. The logic behind is there may be more than one person who can access the business bank account (logging into the account does not require the SecureSign device). But not all of them have the authority to carry out online transactions. So the first stage involves creating transactions, e.g. to pay for utility bills. Subsequently, the person with SecureSign device will approve these transactions, presumably one by one (haven’t tried this out yet).

In the first stage, I made payment in a similar way to how I was accustomed to. But when I was expecting to key in a secure code from the SecureSign device before I confirm a transaction, I managed to confirm without one. But the transaction was then put under “Pending” status.

In the second stage, I needed to click on the “Transaction Approval” tab to proceed:
Transaction_Approval_PBB
On the left hand column, there were “Maker Transaction Status” and “Authorizer Transaction Status”. I could view pending transaction under “Maker Transaction Status” or “Authorizer Transaction Status”. To authorise transactions, I needed to click on “Authorizer Transaction Status”, followed by “Approve/Reject Transaction”. There I was required to search for the transaction to approve, which in my case was just one pending. Here came the unintuitive bit, after clicking on the transaction that I wanted to approve. I was required to key in the secure code. The secure code was to be generated from the SecureSign device. However it wasn’t entirely clear from the Quick Guide that came with the SecureSign device how it could be generated:
SecureSign Quick Guide

First, I keyed in the PIN number into the SecureSign device when prompted. Then I pressed the “1” or “Sign” button on the device, before keying in the first set of data. This first set of data was actually the first line of numbers on-screen in red. After keying in the numbers followed by “OK” on the device, I keyed in the second line of numbers in red (it was the amount figure, but remember to omit the decimal dot) followed by “OK”. Then only the secure code appeared, which I entered on-screen to approve the transaction.

Now do you understand how the SecureSign device facilitates online business transactions for Public Bank?

Updated on 4/12/2015:
Just found out today that if your pending transaction is not authorised within 7 days, the transaction will vanish by itself. Yes, vanish, because it will not show up anywhere, even if you try to search for it. It is not rejected nor deleted. It will disappear from you, or even the Public Bank staff. Initially I thought I can just keep creating transactions, let them stay pending, until I authorise them at a later date closer to actual payment due date for my bills. The reason I did that because Public Bank do not allow transactions to executed on a future date. Absolutely rubbish. Maybank can do that. And how difficult can it be to keep a record of expired (pending) transactions, so that I don’t have to dig out transaction details again to make the payment. Basically their commercial online payment system is just not very well thought out to me. It is appropriate to describe it as rubbish.

Updated on 1/2/2016:
If you damage the device, it will cost you RM50 (plus GST) to replace. Don’t put it in your pocket, especially if your jeans is tight, like mine, with lots of things inside too, as mine cracked. Replacement does not take long, I got mine replaced in 2-3 days time.

TGV cinema tickets discount with Maybank cards

It is one of those things after having a child. We very rarely go to cinema. The last time we went we were given free tickets to watch Mission Impossible as a BMW white card member. Didn’t have to buy tickets. Few days ago we went to TGV Station 18 to watch 007 Spectre to only then realised that it is much cheaper to buy tickets using Maybank cards! (In fact we went to queue at the pop corn counter to buy tickets, not knowing there are separate ticket counters!) A ticket that costs RM15 or RM17 (standard or preferred seats) will become only RM10 with Maybank card (see details here). And every Thursday buy 1 free 1. Massive savings! I have a bank account with Maybank but has been dormant for many years, and I have been paying RM10 every year. So went to Maybank Greentown to activate my account today, and converted my yellow ATM card to a Maybank debit card, for RM12 one off charge, and activated my Maybank2u online bank account too. The card will come in handy for our next movie, Hunger Games Mocking Jay Part 2 hehe.

Such cheap credit available in the UK

Before I came back to Malaysia, I was clever to raise some cheap capital in the UK to start my business in Malaysia, via personal loans and credit cards. Particularly from credit cards. At the time, the best deals were offering 0% balance transfer for 2 years. I only needed to pay the one off handling fee and that would become the interest to pay over the two-year period.

When the two-year period was up, somehow I was able to roll the debt to other credit cards. Deals were not as good anymore as I was only able to take advantage of promotions given to me by my existing credit cards having moved back to Malaysia. And this goes on for almost three years now. Lately I even managed to transfer cash into my current accounts, again 0% interest for a period of time with a low enough handling fee! It is so much easier to get credits from UK credit cards, almost beyond belief, when I can’t even get a credit card yet in Malaysia.

Problem with record low interest rate in the UK is a lot of the consumer spending nowadays is fueled by such easy credits from credit cards. And credit card companies are making it so easy for us to roll debt around. All we need to do is fulfill 0% interest minimum payment to service the debt, which is normally a small sum relative to wages in the UK.

The U.S. has been threatening to raise interest rate for many months now. And the UK is monitoring the situation too. But I seriously doubt they will raise it anytime soon. The implication on consumer spending is going to be huge, and it is going to hit the banks as bad debt rises.

Good news for me, as I can still keep myself afloat as a result. Otherwise with the weak Ringgit, I would need to take a massive hit if I were to repay the credit card debt by early next year! And raising capital in Malaysia is so much harder and more expensive. Double whammy!

AEON Big Falim, the largest in Malaysia

AEON Big Falim
Here we go, AEON is opening another mall in Ipoh, on 18th December 2015. This time is AEON Big located in Falim, apparently the largest in Malaysia! As I wrote in my earlier post that the recently opened AEON Klebang couldn’t fill up all their retail spaces on their opening day, I think we are going to see even more empty spaces there. With a population of not even close to 1 million, at around 700k, yet Ipoh is going to have four AEONs (Kinta City, Station 18, Klebang and now Falim), a Parkson Ipoh Parade and countless supermarkets cum retail spaces, the retailers are going to be the biggest losers since customers are more and more spread out amongst these places. A recent article on The Star highlighted the similarity between the overcapacity problem in China and Malaysia. Shoppers in Ipoh are not stupid, convenience will ultimately be key after the initial excitement of new shopping malls wane. We shall see which of these shopping malls do worst. My bet is AEON Station 18 will suffer the most.