Category Archives: Money matters

Energy consumption stays the same with just one air cond!?

Bloody hell, following my move to cut energy consumption by getting my daughter to sleep in the same room as us, in essence reducing the number of air cond running at night from two to one, this is what I got:


In terms of kWh, the reduction was only 27kWh, compared to last month’s reading! WTF, I was certainly expecting a lot more than that! Basically getting into all this hassle of moving my daughter to sleep with us only save us a meagre RM15 a month!

Okay we accept that we are not using the latest inverter air cond, which can cut down on energy usage over regular air cond by (up to?) 50%, in our master bedroom. And the air cond in my daughter’s room is more energy efficient than the air cond in our room. But still this is so bloody demoralising. So much so that we checked the TNB rates per KWh, just in case. But they haven’t risen over the past few months! So we have asked the air cond service guy to come service our air cond today, to ensure that our air cond is not running sub-optimally. We’ll see how the energy usage is like next month. In fact, to think about it, I can check the meter reading tomorrow to see if there’s any improvement, considering that on average we are using about 30kWh a day based on this latest bill. Will keep you lot up to date.

Have to really cut energy use at home

Just received my TNB electricity bill. Price has gone up, again! Used to be around RM200-300. This month has gone up to RM440! Unbelievable, the most expensive electricity bill (for residential use) I have received, yet. I know we switch on two air cond at night, everyday. But apart from that we have not been doing anything too differently. Must be to do with the hot weather lately. I wasn’t aware that there was a price hike from TNB, or was there?! Whatever it is, we are moving my daugher to our bedroom, so that we only need to power on one air cond at night. It’s just too bloody expensive to keep two air cond running everyday at this rate. And we probably need to take shelter in places with air cond more often, it is so bloody hot lately, especially in the afternoon! It is going to be this hot for how much longer??

Massimo bread price increase from 4th April 2016

Just received a notice from The Italian Baker that they will be adjusting the prices of their bread from 4th April 2016 onwards. They have been absorbing the 6% GST since April last year when GST went live. There was confusion initially I think because they thought their bread are zero rated. Turned out that not all bread are zero rated.

So from 4th April onwards, a loaf of Massimo Sandwich with wheat germ will retail at RM2.65 (small) and RM3.70 (long), an increase of 15 cents and 20 cents respectively.

Massimo bread new prices

Can’t blame them, flour subsidies from the government have been cut lately too. Just more misery for the commoners…

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.

Updated on 16/6/2017:


One and a half year since I wrote this how-to and their online portal is still showing up such amateurish message.. Basically this shows up when there is no more transaction to approve or reject when I clicked on “Approve/Reject Transaction”. It is NOT an error if there is no transaction to show here! Before this online portal goes live Public Bank should have inspected it thoroughly, every permutations, to weed out all the loose ends. Users are not interested in software error messages copied straight from the backend. Very poor, embarrassing actually, considering that Public Bank is the second largest bank in Malaysia. 

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!

Personal credit ratings in Malaysia

Attended a seminar on Credit Risk Management for SMEs yesterday. Chiefly trying to find out more about business loan application in Malaysia, and the criteria they look at when they assess applications. Turned out that there were not much more information presented that I don’t already know. On the other hand, on the personal side, I found out that:
i) CTOS is one of three credit ratings agencies in Malaysia, apparently the largest;
ii) I can access my own credit report free of charge by registering with CTOS (unlike in the UK you will need to pay £5 to say Equifax to get a copy of it).

CTOS report

Above is a copy of my credit report from CTOS. I don’t know how others’ look like, but mine looks pretty blank, and with a damning entry for being a director of our new company. As you can see, our company is making quite a big loss in 2013, the year we started the company. The figure is one we submitted to SSM from our audited account for the year. It is most likely not very surprising to see losses in new companies in their first year of business. But from a personal credit history’s point of view, it is just bad. You see I have only been back in Malaysia for just over 2 years. I have no credit history. And setting up a new company seems to have plunged me into a deeper hole, as it now appears that I am a director of a company that loses lots of money. I think I now know why I failed in my recent application for a credit card. Can’t blame the financial institution for rejecting me when I have such a huge red flag waving at them can I? Considering that decision making is computerised on whether to approve a credit card application nowadays. But this just means that it is extra hard for entrepreneurs to borrow money, even if they just want to borrow money in their personal capacity for non-business related expenditure?

Great, looks like it is probably prudent for me to wait a couple of months, to allow my credit report to be updated with our latest audited account submitted to SSM which shows a non-negative number, before I apply for a credit card again.

Public Bank is rubbish, Maybank not much better either

Went to Public Bank to pay company GST for the first time. Was told that I can’t pay over the counter at Public Bank. Can only pay on-line. BUT with their business account, I can only view transactions and all on-line. I can’t do nothing with on-line payment. Pay SOCSO, NO, Pay EPF contributions, NO. Bank transfers, NO. Now GST return, can’t even do it over the counter. Bloody hopeless. If you want to be able to do the above on-line, you need to pay extra. Over RM20 a month to use their on-line service. How bloody thick of them, when they should really be encouraging customers to move on-line. Especially now that they charge RM0.50 to process each cheque, and that hasn’t even included GST! Public Bank is like a dinosaur in the modern world, slow moving, clumsy, outdated, but blood sucking at the same time.

Customer service rep however “kindly” told me that I can pay at Maybank or CIMB nearby. I hope she is ashamed of the bank she’s working for. So I have to drive to Maybank. Maybank, as I have been told before, is the most Internet friendly, even for business customers. I have a Maybank personal account, but which I have not been using for such long time that it has gone inactive, I know their on-line services are pretty good. But at the counter service is so very frustrating. They just take a long time service a customer. Compared to Public Bank they are just so much slower. I really don’t understand how they can be so slow. I waited over half an hour for my turn. During that time only 8 were served, with 6 active counters. And when I wanted to reactivate my account, which I needed to queue separately for customer service, there was only one counter that could deal with my problem. But there just seemed to be so many staff around, and so many counters. I filled up my form already, but there is just only one active customer service counter. Appalling. I gave up. I need to think again whether I want to switch our business account over to Maybank.

Quidco does work for iPad ordered for collection in-store!

It’s been a while since I last checked on my Quidco account. Guess I wasn’t optimistic about getting any cashback from the iPad we bought from PC World two months ago, although this offer was advertised on the Quidco website. Because we ordered the iPad online, but chose to collect in-store, which means paying for the iPad in-store as well. So we weren’t sure if Quidco will be able to track the completed transaction. I mean I haven’t yet received the 3% cashback too, but at least the transaction is validated on my Quidco account. The validation process required that I provide some sort of transaction number printed on the receipt I received after making the payment at the store. So there you go, you can get some savings even on Apple’s products!

What a con offer from BT!

Received a letter through our letter box today about a Summer Deal offer from BT. Thought it’s really cheap, £15.99 a month for BT Total Broadband, plus unlimited UK landline calls. And it’s free for the first three months of service. But it is only after looking at the small prints more carefully, and repeatedly, when I realise that this £15.99 actually does not bloody include the line rental, which is currently about £10 a month! How is it such an exciting deal I wonder, almost in disbelief that they actually have the guts to send out such weak marketing offers.You see, I’m currently paying only £7.50 for my broadband with O2, as I’m also their mobile phone customer. Yes, I’m only getting up to 8Mbps, as opposed to up to 20Mbps. But I don’t have a usage cap of 10GBytes per month! For these I’ll have to shell out almost twice what I’m currently paying to go with BT. How silly does that sound? And what I don’t like about BT is it seems that they deliberately try to make their offers sound better than they actually are. Wasted my time having to look into the small prints to get a full view of what the offer actually meant. So not impressed with these marketing people, and BT!