Customer pulls knife on phone salesman

Customer pulls knife on phone salesman
CLOSE SHAVE: Salesman Derrick Goh showing how near the knife was to his chest.

SINGAPORE - A dispute over a mobile phone purchase turned ugly yesterday when a customer drew a knife on the sales assistant.

A hotline caller contacted The New Paper at around noon, having witnessed a man pulling a knife during the argument which erupted at a smartphone kiosk on the ground floor of People's Park Complex.

According to salesman Derrick Goh, 23, the customer, Mr Zhang Tan Wei, had visited the day before and asked for a particular smartphone model.

It is understood that Mr Zhang is from China, but is working in Singapore for a food and drinks corporation.

"The model he wanted was not available but he insisted he liked it. So I told him we would put in an order for the phone, but he would have to put down a deposit of $300," he said.

He added that Mr Zhang was informed the deposit was not refundable should he change his mind.

But Mr Zhang went back to the shop yesterday morning and said he no longer wanted to buy the phone.

When Mr Goh pointed out that the deposit was not refundable according to the shop's policy, the man become increasingly agitated, he alleged.

Other shops in the complex told TNPS that it was a "common practice" to collect a non-refundable deposit when retailers have to order phone models that are not available at the time of purchase.

"I suggested that we could get him a much cheaper phone, so he would not waste his money. That was when he lunged across the display counter, grabbed my right arm and pulled me violently towards him.

"I only realised he had a knife in his hand when its blade was one to two centimetres from my chest," claimed Mr Goh, who started working there three months ago.

"I supposed adrenalin kicked in then and I flung his hand off mine. He lunged towards me again and that was when I ran towards the back of the shopping centre."

Mr Zhang was about to give chase, but was stopped by one of Mr Goh's colleagues.

Mr Goh said the customer then allegedly turned on his colleague and gesticulated at him with the knife.

Police arrived shortly after and took the man away, Mr Goh said.

A police spokesman confirmed the call came at 11.56am and that a man was arrested for criminal intimidation at the complex.

She said a knife had been seized from the scene and that investigations are ongoing.

Mr Goh, who sustained slight cuts on his arm, said he was still fearful for his life.

He hoped no one would lie in wait for him after the shops shut for the night.

juditht@sph.com.sg


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