Jover gives Sim Lim Square a bad name

Jover gives Sim Lim Square a bad name
SLUGGISH SALES: Even though there has been no consumer complaint at the security desk of the mall in two months, business remains slow, even on weekends.

Do not mention that Jover Chew name at Sim Lim Square.

You are likely to get a frown or worse, a business owner spewing vulgarities.

Jover is bad for business, and business has been bad at Sim Lim Square since the infamous incident last November.

And it is not just the mobile phone shops that are hit.

About 90 per cent of shops in the mall have been affected by slowing business, and some retailers are still unhappy that it took one man to hurt them, said a spokesman for Sim Lim Square mall.

The Jover Chew incident was not just another dispute in the local mall. This time, it went international.

"We have a joke around here, that if you fall in Sim Lim Square now, you will have space to roll around.

"Some shop owners occasionally bring their young kids here on weekends, and they can run around without bumping into anyone," Mr Poon, the manager of a computer shop, says with a laugh,

He declined to give his full name.

"After the Jover Chew incident, human traffic dropped by about 90 per cent, and it was only this year that the number of people visiting the mall picked up by 30 to 40 per cent from the third to the sixth storey," says a spokesman for the mall.

"Some shops still rely on business from their regular customers; IT in Sim Lim Square is still quite good," he adds.

Four mobile shops left the mall after the Jover incident and a series of police raids.

A TNPS team visited the mall on Jan 28 at 7pm and found the first two storeys to be quiet.

That's where mobile phone shops - the source of most complaints - are usually located.

But shops from the third to the fifth storey, which normally sell computer accessories, laptop parts or offer computer repair services, were also quieter than usual.

"Regulars would not usually come after 6pm, but it was definitely more crowded around 7pm before the Jover Chew incident.

"Some retailers are struggling to pay rent because there is no business for them," the spokesman said.

KNEELING AND PLEADING

The Jover Chew incident went viral after someone posted a video of a customer kneeling and pleading with Chew for a refund of an iPhone 6 he had purchased.

Vietnamese tourist Pham Van Thoai had paid $950 for an iPhone 6 before being nearly forced to pay an additional $1,500 for a year-long warranty.

A week before the incident, Chew made the headlines for refunding a customer $1,010 in coins. Two other mobile shops, under investigation by the police, were also raided. These shops had the most consumer complaints filed against them.

Notices are placed around the mall with the names of shops with the most complaints filed with the Consumers Association of Singapore.

In a bid to identify honest retailers for shoppers, Sim Lim Square management mooted the STARetailer initiative about two years ago.

Businesses that have not received complaints over a period of time are given stickers with the STARetailer logo to display in their shops, keeping customers informed of the reliable businesses.

While the incident had left an indelible mark on the mall's reputation, the Singapore Tourism Board looked to reassure tourists that the actions of a few errant retailers "are not reflective of the entire retail industry".

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