Martin Lee @ Sg
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Lessons We Can Learn from the Sim Lim Square Incident

The story of the week has to be the Sim Lim Square scams.

sim-lim-squareUnless you have not been reading any news in the past week, you would have read about the public fury over the actions of certain retailers in Sim Lim Square.

Very seldom have we seen the public so united in their condemnation of one party. Regardless of political beliefs, which soccer club you support, sexual orientation, religion or race, almost everyone were appalled at the rogue tactics employed by Mobile Air and its owner Jover Chew, how they were allowed to operate with impunity for so long and the grave injustice suffered by the victims.

How shops like Mobile Air operate is like this:

  1. They will offer to sell you a mobile phone at slightly less than what other retailers are offering.
  2. Some customers, after doing their price research, will end up buying from them because they are the cheapest.
  3. After agreeing on the price and handing over the money, you will be given a sales invoice to sign.
  4. At this point, the shop will inform you that you need to top up more money for the warranty. The top-up comes to twice the amount of the phone.
  5. The clause is buried in the fine print of the sales invoice that you signed and you are not allowed to back out. So either you top-up, or walk away losing the money you have already handed over.
  6. It is at this stage that people will start arguing for hours, call in CASE or the police, but eventually still end up not getting their money back.

Now, these practices have actually been going on for years and is nothing new.

However, it became fresh news when Mobile Air tried to be funny by refunding $1000 (all in coins) to a tourist from China. This came about as a result of their questionable practices with the refund ordered by CASE.

This drew the attention of the public and the media subsequently followed up with a few other cases of tragic stories of victims, including one from Vietnam, Mr Pham Van Thoai. There was a video of Mr Pham kneeling and begging for his money back, in the process being mocked by the Mobile Air staff .

To cut a long story short, the perpetrators have since gone into hiding after their personal details and photos were exposed by an online vigilante SMRT Feedback (not related to SMRT) in an operation they called #OpsAirKangkang.

So, what lessons can we learn from the Sim Lim Square incident?

  • Always read the fine print of anything you sign. This is especially if you are dealing with strangers.
  • If the deal (or returns) sounds too good to be true, be extra careful.
  • The best deal might not possibly be the best deal.
  • Deal only with reputable companies.
  • Even though Singapore generally has good corporate governance, the fact that a company is still operating here does not mean it is pro customer or legit.
  • Never do things that will piss the majority of people off. You never know when the news can become viral.

For those who have not read the stories, Straits Times has a section dedicated to it: Sim Lim Square Scams

More on #OpsAirKangKang : Ops AirKangKang

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2 comments
abc says 5 years ago

Good corporate governance good consumer protection or service.

In fact S’pore has TERRIBLE consumer protection compared to most other developed countries. Over here it is caveat emptor, or you die your biz.

Reply
    Martin Lee says 4 years ago

    Dear abc,

    yes, our consumer protection lags some of the other developed countries. And CASE, being a non-government body, is toothless.

    Reply
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