Tackling errant retailers

The Business Times
View From The Top
Published: 24 Nov 2014

What can be done to weed out rogue retailers and further protect consumer interests?

THE authorities should step in to issue a stern warning to errant retailers to caution them that continued unscrupulous practices (such as the recent Sim Lim Square cases that made the headlines) could lead to having their business licence revoked. In retail businesses, there is something called ”willing-buyer-willing-seller” and it is for both parties to be aware of the terms under which they agree to in that transaction. Basically, once you sign, you are bound.

It is also normally difficult to say what is reasonable and what is not (barring the recent Sim Lim incidents which are certainly unethical but legal since CASE cannot do anything at all). There must be a way to openly and publicly blacklist recalcitrant individuals and the companies they operate in a very prominent way – so that they don’t just close one company and set up another and continue with the unethical practices in the new entity. This way, more people are made aware and avoid transacting with them. It will ”force” them to refrain from such undesirable sales tactics.

What happened to the recently introduced Lemon Law? Can the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act be further expanded to cover such unethical albeit legal practices? CASE should be given more ”teeth” to provide more bite than merely being a ”postman” or loudspeaker. For example, after a certain number of official complaints to CASE from consumers and ensuing warnings, the authorities should have the right to shut down those businesses. This may seem a bit extreme to some but I think it is a very serious issue that warrants such drastic action to send a clear signal that Singapore, as a country, will not tolerate such rogue retailers. It is simply unacceptable in an advanced society like ours. Furthermore, those incidents that made the news recently involved victims who were tourists and foreigners. This gives Singapore a bad name and is detrimental to our image of an attractive tourist destination and shopping haven.
Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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