Things to know about Singapore's Consumer Protection Act

Things to know about Singapore's Consumer Protection Act

SINGAPORE - The recent cases involving unfair trading practices at Sim Lim Square has brought Singapore's consumer protection laws into sharper focus.

It was previously reported that the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) was investigating Sim Lim Square mobile phone shop, Mobile Air, for improper marketing practices.

The shop has been in the news lately, after it refunded a customer $1,010 in coins. Subsequently, a Vietnamese tourist was filmed in tears while kneeling and begging for a refund after buying a phone from the same shop.

Singapore's High Court also granted a permanent injunction against another Sim Lim Square shop, Cyber Maestro Pte Ltd, on Nov 3, prohibiting its employees and agents from engaging in several unfair practices.

Here are some things to know about Singapore's Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA):

What is the CPFTA?

According to CASE, the CPFTA is designed to empower consumers to seek redress against unfair trade practices.

What constitutes an unfair practice?

It is an unfair practice for a trader, in relation to a consumer transaction:

- to do or say anything, or omit to do or say anything, if as a result a consumer might reasonably be deceived or misled;

- to make a false claim;

- to take advantage of a consumer if the trader knows or ought reasonably to know that the consumer:

- is not in a position to protect his own interests; or

- is not reasonably able to understand the character, nature, language or effect of the transaction or any matter related to the transaction; or,

- to do any of the 20 unfair practices listed in the Second Schedule of the Act.

The trader should provide the consumer with all relevant and material information so as not to mislead the consumer. The consumer can then make an informed decision.

What should a consumer do to seek recourse after encountering an unfair practice?

Consumers should first attempt to resolve the dispute with the business. Failing which, consumers can seek CASE's assistance to settle the dispute. Tourists can file complaints with the Singapore Tourism Board.

If the dispute cannot be settled by CASE, the consumer may file a claim in court for civil remedies. Most claims should be filed under the Small Claims Tribunal.

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