Sim Lim Square council now 'open to Case suggestion'

Sim Lim Square council now 'open to Case suggestion'

The management of Sim Lim Square yesterday changed tack and said it was open to the consumer watchdog's suggestion for shop owners to enforce stricter rental agreements.

Its management council said it will consider this approach, after consulting its legal counsel.

When contacted two weeks ago after the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) had made the suggestion, the council merely said it was seeking legal advice.

It had also said earlier that it was unable to compel landlords to kick out tenants that run dishonest businesses or to force them to sell their units.

The change in position comes as Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck and Case representatives yesterday met the council to discuss measures to deal with errant retailers.

When contacted, a Sim Lim Square spokesman directed The Straits Times to its managing agent, but he could not be contacted by press time to comment.

Case had sent letters late last month to the managements of Sim Lim Square and People's Park Complex, also known to have shops with unethical practices, asking them to change their rules and by-laws to make it mandatory for landlords to ensure retailers run their businesses fairly.

In particular, it said rental agreements should state that retailers must conduct their business according to fair practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA). Under this, unfair practices include taking advantage of a consumer by exerting undue pressure and making false claims about goods.

Case's suggestions follow reports about the unsavoury tactics of retailers at Sim Lim Square.

In one case, Vietnamese tourist Pham Van Thoai begged for a refund after he was allegedly overcharged for an iPhone by a shop owner in Sim Lim Square.

The shop, Mobile Air, has since closed down. Following up on reports lodged against it, the police last month carried out investigations at the shop.

Overall, 106 complaints were made against stores in Sim Lim Square from January to last month. Over the same period, 156 complaints were made against shops in People's Park Complex, the highest for a mall here.

At the meeting yesterday, Sim Lim's management council also shared plans to raise the service standards of its retailers.

On the cards is a training and accreditation programme for more retailers to qualify under its STARetailer scheme, which involves a code of conduct for retailers to promote honest and fair sales practices.

Mr Teo said at the meeting that the Government is studying ways to enhance the CPFTA.

"I am glad that Case and Sim Lim Square management council are coming together to take a strong stand against errant retailers, and to share ideas and explore possible actions that can be taken to deter such retailers from engaging in unfair business practices," he said in a statement after the meeting.

This article was first published on Dec 16, 2014.
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