SINGAPORE - All the attention recently has been on Sim Lim Square and the rogue sales tactics of some of its vendors.
But the mall in Singapore with the most consumer complaints is actually People's Park Complex in Chinatown, and the complaints also involve mobile phone retailers.
Of the 244 cases against the mobile phone retail industry which the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) handled from January to last month, about 40 per cent, or 96 cases, involved shops at People's Park Complex.
In comparison, Sim Lim Square accounted for 49 cases, or about 20 per cent of the complaints.
Last year, there were 65 complaints against vendors at People's Park Complex, with the corresponding figure for Sim Lim being 46. The tactics of shops from both malls are the same: Hook customers with a low price, then demand more cash for the phone's warranty or to "unlock" the phone.
Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said that the situation at People's Park Complex is being monitored closely. Errant retailers from Sim Lim Square and Lucky Plaza may have moved there, he added.
People's Park Complex is an attractive place for errant retailers to set up shop for two reasons.
"It is located in a tourist area and tourists are considered easy targets. They do not read our newspapers or go to the Case website, and there might be an information gap," he said.
"In addition, People's Park Complex is a strata-titled mall, which means that some of its shops are rented out by individual owners who might not be aware of their tenants' actions."
Sim Lim Square is also a strata-titled mall.
Consumer alert lists are found in both Sim Lim Square and People's Park Complex, in a collaboration between Case and the Singapore Tourism Board, and supported by the managements of these malls.
At People's Park Complex, three mobile phone shops have consistently been on the list in the past year: Tele Infinity, Mobile Alliance and S Team.
Checks with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority reveal that Tele Infinity and Mobile Alliance were registered by the same owner.
According to shop assistants at these two shops, the owner was not present on the two occasions The New Paper visited last week.
A shop assistant at one of the shops, who had worked there for a month, admitted that he had heard of some dispute cases in the past and claimed that the list has not been "updated".
He said: "There's no such thing now. Maybe it's a misunderstanding. What's the point of cheating customers?"
Tenants and regulars at the mall, however, said heated arguments with customers, and the police turning up, are common. A passer-by, who wanted to be known only as Godfrey, claimed to have witnessed a fight at a mobile phone shop two weeks ago.
He said: "The customer shouted very loudly and the staff just blasted music to chase him away. They also challenged him to call the police.
"I noticed that these shops also change their signboards often, although their staff are the same people."
The manager of a SingTel exclusive retailer at People's Park Complex, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lau, said business has been affected by the recent events at Sim Lim Square.
He keeps a file of newspaper reports on errant retailers at People's Park Complex to warn customers.
The management of People's Park Complex did not respond to TNP's request for comments about errant tenants.
This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.