After taking a beating online for his questionable sales tactics, Sim Lim Square mobile phone shop owner Jover Chew has apparently given up his business.
Mobile Air's Mr Chew, 32, has come under fire recently for overcharging customers, and his shop shutters have been down for the past week. But the shop reopened for business yesterday.
Mr Chew was not there when The Straits Times visited. Instead, a man who identified himself as Mr Ricky Lee, 33, said he bought over the business, including all its remaining stock, for a sum below market price last week. He would not say how much he paid.
Mr Lee said he will be reopening the shop under a new name, HJ Mobile, next week. He said he has known Mr Chew for around three years, and claimed that the former owner is not involved in the new venture and declined to comment on his whereabouts.
"I heard from people that Jover was trying to sell the business and I thought it was worth a try," he said in Mandarin.
"I bought the business at a good price. Even if there are few walk-in customers, I can focus on exporting to markets like Thailand and Vietnam."
Mr Lee said he will also be taking over Mr Chew's lease, which has around a year left on it, at a slightly lower rent.
Mobile Air closed last week, following local and international media reports about ugly scenes such as a Vietnamese customer begging for a refund. After online satire group SMRT Ltd (Feedback) publicised Mr Chew's personal information and photographs on its Facebook page, he was criticised relentlessly by netizens.
Mobile Air is still listed as a live company, however, in records at the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.
Mr Lee said he will register his new business with the authorities next week.
He said: "I will tell the staff of my new business to be more careful with their sales tactics. I will also try to sell products at usual retail prices or maybe even slightly below retail prices."
According to Sim Lim Square's management, shops on the first and second floors of the electronics mall, where all the mobile phone shops blacklisted by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) are located, had been badly hit in recent days, with sales falling by around 80 to 90 per cent for some. The higher floors, mainly occupied by shops selling IT gadgets, are not doing as badly.
Several shopkeepers on the first floor of the mall told The Straits Times that sales should be picking up during the festive period, but some do not see a single customer all day.
Earlier this week, Case took out a court order against Mobile Air after it refused to sign an agreement to stop its unfair practices. If the order is granted by the court, the owner could be liable for a jail term or fines if it breaches the order.
Case's executive director Seah Seng Choon said it can proceed with the injunction against Mobile Air as it is still live.
He added: "This is the challenge that Case faces with errant retailers... The moment we take action, the company finds ways to wind down or register themselves as another company to continue with their businesses."
This article was first published on Nov 15, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.