I had moved into my new place for about a year and a half now. A few months ago, the lock button of the bathroom door became flimsy, showing signs of getting spoilt, as we could not turn lock it. It became worse after my Grandma came to stay over one night and the poor old lady did not know how to lock and unlock the bathroom door. She fumbled with the button thus aggravated the situation. My father tried to "repair" the lock system and ended being locked inside the bathroom for more than an hour, as the lock button was already spoilt then. I had to call a locksmith to break open the entire door.
After that, we called town council and they sent their designated contractor to fix the door handle. He changed to a better quality one for us, free of charge. Town council decided to waive the charges because we maintained that it was only slightly over a year then (they said the warranty for the stuff in the house provided by the HDB was for one year). The guy who fixed the door knob told us there had been similar complaints like ours in our estate. We were concerned but just relieved we did not have to pay a single cent.
Since then, my other master bathroom door handle had also became faulty as well as my bedroom's. Last night I needed to go to the loo in the middle of the night about 3am, I could not open my bedroom door! I was stuck inside my room! The lock button finally gave way, I tried to use a pen knife to pry open the door. The loud noises and banging of door woke up my parents. Even though they used the key to unlock my door, the lock was already spoilt and could not be opened. It was only after sometime trying with the pen knife that I managed to open the darn door.
Today I called up HDB which referred me to Town Council which referred me to the Area Office. An elderly lady, while friendly, told me we might have to pay for the replacement of the door handles since it was already over a year's warranty. I said I know that, but I wanted to just ask if the contractor they were sending to my place was going to charge me, was there an department in HDB I could write in to to give my feedback. She said she would asked the Area Office's person in charge of maintenance to call me within 3 working days. Since it was near my house, I went to the Area Office personally to see if I could expedite the case (I do not like to sleep with the bedroom door open for the next few days!).
Again another man at the counter said I had already opened the case and which the person in charge would call me back, and he said usually we had to pay for the door handles and gave me the motherhood story all over again. I said I understood him, but all I wanted to do was to check which department in HDB I could give my feedback to. I wanted to write in to inform HDB obviously the quality of the door handles provided by the original contractor was horrible. Even the guy who fixed the previous door handle told us the original one was of inferior quality. I would have kept quiet if I had only one previous case of spoilt door handle, but now I have 2 faulty door handles spoilt and 2 more going to be spoilt anytime. I just want some explanation. If the windows in my house decide to break after a year and hurt someone, do I also have to pay for the replacement or should HDB explain to me why the quality of the windows was so poor in the first place? We expect to stay in a new house for at least a few years more, right?
Finally in the same day, the person in charge of maintenance called me and I explained my story again. He seemed to know what I meant and said he would come down to inspect how bad the damage was the next day and said he would try to convince "his management" if any replacement costs could be waived. I said ok, appeased. He obviously knew there were similar cases in my neighbourhood since he was the one in charge of maintenance!!
Shall see what would be the final outcome. If they insist I have to pay for the door handles or engage my own contractor, I am definitely going to feedback to HDB till they give me a reasonable reply about the inferior door handles used. Or would they sit up and answer me only if I gather my neighbours to sign a petition, those who have similar problems? It may be just a door knob and it may not cost much, but if we add up the time spent on the calls and giving explanation as well as the inconvenience, and if we add up all the number of households with the same problem, what does it show? It shows HDB need to be more stringent with the quality of materials used and service provided when awarding huge tenders to sub-contractors for its housing projects. And our houses do not come cheap, by the way.
Why is it that we always have to make some noise before people treat us seriously? Why is it that people would usually try to shove us aside in the hope we would shut up?