Dispute between customer and salesman at Sim Lim Square results in injury

The salesman pushed me, claimed a shopper at Sim Lim Square.

Not true, the salesman retorted.

A dispute is again being waged between a customer and sales staff at the mall. Although the number of such occurrences are decreasing, the consumer watchdog said customers should be alert.

A shopping trip to Sim Lim Square ended with a trip to the hospital for the customer, who wanted to be known only as Mr Frankie, 34. He claimed he was manhandled when he returned to a shop where he bought a camera tripod.

He had wanted to exchange it for something of an equal value, he said. But he claimed the salesman at the shop refused to do so, was rude and pushed him, causing him to injure his hand.

Mr Frankie, an event manager and emcee, said he was at Sim Lim Square on May 28 to look for a camera tripod. He bought a camera tripod for $34 from Square United Cam.

But he claimed he had problems with it.

He said: "The tripod was unstable when I put my camera on top of it. The quality is very bad. I bought it because it was cheap."

On June 4 at about 8pm, he returned to the shop to exchange it for something of an equal value.

But he said the same salesman who served him that day refused to do so.

Mr Frankie said: "He advised me to buy another tripod that was more expensive. I tested it and it was still not stable."

He claimed the salesman tried to skirt the issue and slashed its price from $900 to $550 to entice him to buy it. But Mr Frankie wasn't interested.

He claimed the salesman then threw his tripod out of the shop.

"I went to pick it up and went back into the shop. He (the salesman) pushed me violently and I landed on some chairs. I used my left hand to support myself from falling down. But I still landed on the ground," he said.

Mr Frankie claimed another staff tried to push him out of the shop. But he managed to get into the shop and called the police with his mobile phone.

SOUGHT TREATMENT

He sought treatment at the Singapore General Hospital for his swollen hand, and was diagnosed with contusional injury with a need for immobilisation with a splint, according to a medical report dated June 5, which he showed to TNP.

When TNP approached the salesman, Mr Daniel Teo, at the shop on Thursday, he confirmed that Mr Frankie had bought a tripod from him. But Mr Teo, 47, disputed the customer's account of the incident.

He claimed Mr Frankie lost his balance when he knocked into chairs and fell. He claimed Mr Frankie had asked for a refund, not an exchange.

He said: "But the manager wasn't in, so we couldn't just take money out and refund him."

Mr Teo showed TNP a video recording he took that day using his mobile phone.

The 67-second-long clip showed a relaxed Mr Frankie holding up his mobile phone, with a voice in the background accusing him of shouting and touching the video cameras on display.

The Consumers Association of Singapore confirmed a report has been lodged. The police said a report was lodged. Its spokesman said the complainant was advised to seek civil redress.

12 Complaints in 30 months

Square United Cam has had 12 complaints lodged against it in the past 2½ years, said the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case).

Complaints involve misrepresentation, where the seller makes false statements or promises to induce consumers to sign the contract.

Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said: "For example, the retailer could state that the camera comes with a free tripod stand to persuade the consumer to buy. But in the end, the consumer was charged for the tripod stand."

During that same period of between 2012 and June this year, Case has handled 232 complaints against retailers in Sim Lim Square. From 106 cases in 2012, it fell to 86 cases last year. The first half of this year saw 40 cases so far.

The top five complaints include misrepresentation, defective goods, sales tactics, overcharging and failure to honour.

Square United Cam appeared on Case's alert list for seven months last year. It has not been highlighted on the list after that.

The alert lists retailers with three or more complaints filed with Case in the past three months.

A check with the alert list showed that although the shop's name is not on the list, the unit number is - with four complaints in three months, between April 2014 and June 2014.

The latest retailers highlighted on the alert list can be found at www.case.org.sg

chaihyn@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 9, 2014.
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