Have you ever read the writings on the back of the bus ticket stubs? I recently travelled on an express bus. The journey started at 9:30 pm and I arrived at the destination at about 4:00 am the following day. The journey was uneventful except for the speed at which the bus tumbled down the east-cost highway through Jeli-Gerik towns. Amazingly fast…
Anyway, this blog is not about the bus driver or the driving speed. Instead, I’m going to comment a bit on the “Syarat-Syarat“, or in English I think it means Terms & Conditions (T&C).
To avoid mistranslating the syarat-syarat, which is written in Bahasa Melayu, I will quote it as is, then translate the necessary parts for further discussion.
- Penumpang dikehendaki berada di terminal sekurang-kurangnya 20 minit sebelum masa berlepas.
- Tiket ini sah untuk perjalanan seperti yang tercatat sahaja. Sebarang pindaan akan dikehendaki caj penalti.
- Tiket yang dibeli tidak boleh dipulangkan kembali.
- Tiket ini hanya sah selepas dicetak oleh komputer atau ditandatangani oleh pegawai bertugas.
- Syarikat tidak akan bertanggungjawab ke atas keselamatan barang-barang yang dibawa penumpang. Berat barang-barang yang dibawa hendaklah tidak melebihi 15 kg.
- Syarikat berhak meminda jadual perjalanan dengan tidak terlebih dahulu memberitahu penumpang. Syarikat tidak memberi jaminan atas kelewatan perjalanan.
- Pengeluaran tiket ini tertakluk kepada syarat-syarat lain-lain yang ditetapkan oleh syarikat dari semasa ke semasa, samada tertulis atau tidak.
Terms 1-4 are normal. Nothing peculiar and therefore deserves no further attention. If you cannot understand Bahasa Melayu, I can provide the English translation upon request.
Items 5-7, on the other hand, deserves my “tak masuk akal” scrutiny.
Item 5 translates into “The company is not responsible for the safety of passenger’s luggage. A luggage cannot exceed 15 kg”
Well, this is quite normal everywhere else too. At public parking lots, the same clause is used as a disclaimer. It protects the operator from any liability. The bus company or the parking lot operator is free from any liability should the luggage go missing or break or should the vehicle go missing or broken into….or the radios get stolen.
This is a loophole that can be abused by the operators. What if, at the destination at 4:00 pm, I find out that my luggage which is stowed under the belly of the bus is not where it is supposed to be? Gone! Do I have the right to blame the bus operator? According to the Syarat-Syarat, the bus operator is not responsible. Does that piece of document hold in court? I wonder.
Term 6 is even more depressing as a passenger. It translates into “The company reserves the right to change the timetable without giving prior notification to the passengers. The company does not provide any guarantee of on-time departure/arrival“.
This is perfect for the bus operator. They have no obligation to follow the timetable. However, if the bus companies plan to operate for a long time it would be in their best interest to follow the timetable. However, 15-30 minute delay is rather common in the express bus departure time. All operator throughout the nation. Well, they can “change the time-table without notifying the passengers first” right? It’s in the T&C. So who are we to complain. We can just exercise our rights to choose other bus operators.
Adding more insult to injury, the last item (Term 7) is the mother of it all. In English, it means “The ticket issuance is subject to other terms and conditions that may be specified by the company from time to time, in writing or otherwise.”
In layman’s terms, the bus company can “do whatever they please”. As they deem fit. They are the judge and the executioner. The question is again, does that small piece of document written on the back of the ticket stub hold in court?
If you’ve had the first-hand experience facing this legal issue, please share.
In summary, the Malaysian constitution does not seem to protect the individual citizens and customers, but instead it protects the big corporations that are making money from us.