Is Sim Lim Square both a local and tourist trap?

Is Sim Lim Square both a local and tourist trap?

Sim Lim Square is known to locals and tourists alike but it is not for good reasons.

The infamous electronic goods haven has been appearing in the spotlight for some of its store owners' infamous business tactics of hard-selling to customers.

In the most recent case, a Vietnamese tourist, Pham Van Thoai, who was scammed by electronics store Mobile Air at Sim Lim Square while purchasing an iPhone 6 on Nov 3, went on his knees and begged for a refund at a Sim Lim Square shop.

According to China Daily, Pham paid $950 for the phone at the store, but was duped into buying a warranty package which cost him another $1,500.

In order to find out if Sim Lim Square is a tourist trap, SPH Razor went undercover as a Chinese tourist inquiring about the price of an iPad mini.

According to SPH Razor, different prices of the iPad mini were quoted at different shops. A 16GB iPad mini is priced at $448 in the Apple store but at Sim Lim Square, SPH Razor was quoted prices such as $450 and $470.

In addition, one shop owner, whose shop is on the second floor of Sim Lim Square, pushed SPH Razor to buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 instead of the iPad mini, which was the initial desired product. He quoted SPH Razor a final price of $540 including GST.

According to SPH Razor, it was not a good deal as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 was priced at only $398 on electronic retailer Gain City's website. Also, major retailers like Challenger and Courts sell the same product at under $400.

Another shop owner repeatedly tried to hard-sell a Canon EOS camera for $500 to SPH Razor even though they told the owner that they were not looking for a camera.

On a separate occasion, to find out if Sim Lim Square was equally dangerous for locals, SPH Razor posed as a clueless Singaporean looking for a camera to take self-portraits.

Out of the three stores visited in the building, only the last experience turned out to be negative. The owners from the first two stores were mostly helpful, decent and knowledgeable about the products they sell, according to SPH Razor.

But not all shop owners in Sim Lim Square are truthful. The last store which SPH Razor visited, saw the store owner inflating the price of the camera and dubiously typing out random numbers on the calculator to quote a final price after giving a "customer discount".

From about $600, the man changed his price to $440 on the calculator. He also lied that the mega pixels of the camera was 16 when it was actually 10 upon SPH Razor's closer observation of the camera.

From both incidents, SPH Razor advises consumers to research the product they want to buy first to avoid being easily swayed by what the salesmen say.

In Sim Lim Square, cases of consumers getting ripped off were so rampant that in July 2012, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) set up a booth to enable shoppers to raise disputes with merchants in the mall.

According to CASE, the top three complaints lodged against merchants were misrepresentation of goods, overcharging and aggressive sales tactics.

stephluo@sph.com.sg

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