SINGAPORE - A woman and her 21-month-old daughter were shopping at the Watsons store at the 100 AM shopping mall in Tanjong Pagar last Saturday when a black object peeking out from the bottom of a shelf caught the toddler's eye.
The curious girl went forward and squatted down to grab the black object, which was attached to an electrical wire.
Then she suddenly started crying and lights in the store flickered.
The mother, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Teo, picked up her daughter and took her to the bathroom to wash her hands, thinking she might have touched something dirty.
What she did not know was that her daughter had just had an electric shock.
The 31-year-old manager told The New Paper yesterday: "At that point, I hadn't realised what had happened, I was confused. My daughter suddenly began crying uncontrollably. I just wanted to get her out quickly."
She found it strange that her daughter looked distressed and would not stop crying.
Mrs Teo coaxed her to say what the matter was, but all the girl could utter was: "Pain, pain!"
The mother went back to check the wire.
To her horror, she realised that a live current was passing through it when she touched the metal screws on the object.
Mrs Teo said: "I touched it to see if there was any current and I was zapped. My hand and arm went numb and I cannot imagine the level of pain my young child experienced."
She said the incident, which happened at about 8.40pm, had upset her. But the way the store handled the matter upset her even more.
Mrs Teo said that when she went to complain, the store supervisor claimed that there was no live current in the wire. But when the supervisor touched it, she, too, received an electric shock.
Mrs Teo also said that no first aid was offered to her and her daughter despite the store being stocked with plasters and medication.
BLISTERS ON THUMBS
She rang her husband and the family went to the Accident and Emergency unit (A&E) at Raffles Hospital.
Mrs Teo said that blisters formed on her and her daughter's thumbs, the parts that made contact with the metal part of the black object. The incident also gave her daughter nightmares.
She said she gave her contact details to the store, but no one called her the following day. Its representative called her to verify the matter only after she e-mailed Watsons, she said.
Watsons Singapore marketing director Benedict Leong told TNP that the store was sorry for the incident and had taken steps to fix the problem. (See report above.)
Mrs Teo said: "Our young child means everything to us. What if we had lost her because of this incident? I trust that every parent can feel for us too."
A general practitioner at Killiney Family and Wellness Clinic, Dr Clarence Yeo, said that the electric shock in the incident was unlikely to cause severe injuries.
He added: "However, it also depends on each situation as circumstances would be different. If water had been involved, the situation would have been a lot worse.
"In this case, a child was involved so there is the element of trauma. Some post-traumatic symptoms such as nightmares might last for two days."
If it goes on for longer than that, the family may need specialised treatment for the child, Dr Yeo said.
WATSONS SAYS SORRY
Watsons Singapore's marketing director Benedict Leong said the company had taken immediate steps to fix the problem and is looking into the cause.
He said in a statement: "We are sorry that this happened and that Mrs Teo was not contacted earlier. We have been in touch with her.
"There was a lapse in communication that is out of sync with the way we endeavour to treat customers. We took immediate steps to rectify the situation, and are currently looking into the cause."
Mr Leong also assured customers that Watsons' top priority is creating a pleasant and safe shopping experience and to keep doing better, including staff training to improve service.
This article was first published on July 11, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.