The Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) publishes a consumer alert list every month. This list shows the number of complaints filed against retailers located in People's Park Complex and Sim Lim Square in particular. This initiative was launched in 2013.
A closer look at the list reveals that only shops located on the first and second floor in Sim Lim Square received complaints.
One particular shop in Sim Lim Square, Mobile Air Pte Ltd, has been featured in the news these past two weeks, but for the wrong reasons. Mobile Air has been on the alert list for the entirety of 2014 thus far. For the period of July to September, the shop has topped the list for most number of complaints filed with CASE.
Mobile Air's time in the spotlight
In the first piece of news coverage in Lianhe Zaobao on Oct. 24, 2014, a consumer had made a complaint against Mobile Air after the latter charged her $16,000 for a warranty package for 35 sets of iPhone 6s she had purchased from them.
She had spent over $40,000 for the phones alone. The police were called when the shop did not give her the phones after she refused to pay the additional $16,000.
In the second case, reported by Lianhe Wanbao on Oct. 29, 2014, a different woman bought an iPhone 6 for $1,600 and she was made to pay an additional $1,400 for a warranty package with Mobile Air.
Unhappy, she lodged a complaint with the Small Claims Tribunal and Mobile Air agreed to refund her $1,010.
However, Mobile Air said that when the woman did not show up on Oct. 17 to claim her refund, they had changed a portion of cash notes into coins. When the woman showed up on Oct. 28 for her refund, they gave her $460 in notes and $550 in $1 coins.
According to Apple's online store in Singapore, the price of an iPhone 6 ranges from $988 to $1,288; the iPhone 6 Plus costs between $1,148 to $1,448.
What's the bottom line? Before patronising any shops in Sim Lim Square, double check the CASE consumer alert list, the number of complaints lodged against them and note the unit number.
Unit numbers will be a red flag as shop names and sign boards can be changed.
That would save you a lot of trouble.
Of Chicken Rice and Jeans
In a 31 Oct interview with Lianhe Zaobao, a supervisor of Mobile Air by the name of Zhou gave his side of the story. He said that during the deal, the consumer had signed a contract which clearly stated what she had to pay.
When asked why Mobile Air's warranty package seemed overpriced, Zhou gave an example using chicken rice prices.
He said that the price of chicken rice sold at an Ang Mo Kio food court and at a high-end hotel is different, and asked whether people considered the high-end hotel a scam.
He added that business is all about sales and if a customer is buying a top, he will try to sell the customer a pair of jeans as well if possible.
Top photo from Wikimedia