Ex-employee reveals dubious tactics used at Sim Lim Square shop

Ex-employee reveals dubious tactics used at Sim Lim Square shop

SINGAPORE - A video purportedly showing staff at Mobile Air attempting to scam a tourist has been circulating online. 

The shop at Sim Lim Square and its owner Mr Jover Chew have been in the spotlight following reports of negative customer experiences.

In one, a customer was refunded $1,010 in coins. It wasn't until reporters showed up at the shop that Mr Chew agreed to pay about half of the amount in notes, The New Paper reported.

Less than a week later, Lianhe Zaobao reported that a Vietnamese tourist tearfully knelt and begged for a refund after buying an iPhone 6 from the shop.

On Wednesday, a 36-second clip which seemingly shows Mobile Air staff selling a mobile phone to a man was posted on The Real Singapore's Facebook page. The caption indicates it was leaked by a former employee at the shop.

The former employee apparently wrote to The Real Singapore saying that the video was taken a few weeks ago. He said it showed Mr Chew and his partner attempting to scam a tourist from India, intimidating him by saying that he was on camera.

They also told the customer that once his card was swiped, no refund could be given, which was not true, the former employee wrote.

In an addendum article on its website, The Real Singapore quoted the former employee as saying that the Mobile Air staff are "actual gangsters", which made him very afraid of coming forward with the video.

He also shared that tourists chose to go to Mobile Air because it would quote mobile phones at below market prices.

He wrote: "When the tourists get hooked, the staff will take their credit cards and make them make payment. They will also ask them to sign a contract which says that they want to include a one-year warranty.

"They will purposely cover the part that says that the warranty costs an extra $1,000 for a year with their fingers and most tourists will just blindly sign it. Once they sign the contract, they (the staff) will immediately deduct $1,000 plus the price of the mobile phone from their credit cards and then reveal to them that the warranty costs an extra $1,000.

"Once the tourists realise they have been scammed, they will demand a refund. This is where their 'gangster tactics' come in: They will start behaving like gangsters and turn aggressive towards the customer.

"They would even lie to the tourists that they would call the police if they continued asking for the refund. They will also tell them that they are recorded on camera and scare them away. I would say 80 per cent of the tourists will just count themselves unlucky and just walk away with the phone."

According to the former employee, who said that he felt guilty about working at Mobile Air, "a lot" of other businesses in Sim Lim Square use the same tactics. But he noted that there were also decent retailers in the mall.

Mobile Air is being investigated by the Consumer Association of Singapore (Case) for possible violations of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. The New Paper said in a report on Thursday that, while it remained open in the days after it was highlighted in mainstream media, the shop was closed today.

huizhen@sph.com.sg

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