Sim Lim Square shop owner can't explain why he paid in coins

The owner of a Sim Lim Square shop who refunded a customer $1,010 in coins, gave his side of the story yesterday.

The New Paper reported yesterday that a student, who wished to be known only as Ms Zhou, was refunded $1,010 in coins and that shop staff members taunted her and her aunt, Ms Liu, as they counted the money.

Mr Jover Chew, owner of Mobile Air, however, claimed that the Chinese national and her aunt were difficult customers, and that he and his workers had tried to handle the situation as best they could.

On Sept 24, the women visited the shop to buy an iPhone 6 Plus but after signing a "contract", they were shocked to find out they had to pay another $2,400 for two years of "insurance", bringing the price of the phone to $4,000.

This "insurance" meant that if the phone was damaged, the customer could exchange it for a new one.

FREEBIES

There were also freebies such as phone accessories and a 24-inch flatscreen TV included in the "bundle", Mr Chew claimed.

Asked if he had told this to Ms Zhou, he said he did not have a chance to do so. Despite the price being lowered to $3,000 after haggling, Mr Chew claimed the women still called the police.

"One woman (Ms Liu) wanted to take a chair and smash my counter in front of the police," he claimed.

After Ms Zhou lodged a complaint with the Small Claims Tribunal the next day, the shop was ordered to refund Ms Zhou $1,000. An additional $10 was for administrative fees.

Mobile Air was ordered to pay up by Oct 17.

Mr Chew claimed that Ms Liu turned up at the shop "twice before Oct 17", but without Ms Zhou.

"How can we just give her the money like that? Then on Oct 17, she came with an 'authorisation letter' in Chinese. This is Singapore, you know. All our official documents are in English," he added.

On Oct 28, Ms Liu returned with Ms Zhou, but Mr Chew said the notes had been changed to coins by then.

When pressed thrice on why he had paid in coins, Mr Chew evaded the question and said Ms Zhou and Ms Liu could have rejected the coins if they did not want them.

"There was no need to be rude and use vulgarities," he said.

He showed TNP a six-second video on his mobile phone where Ms Liu could be seen tussling with a shop staff member over the bag of coins, her voice raised.

In two other videos of similar length, Ms Liu could be heard arguing with the shop staff member in Mandarin. In one, she is seen leaving the shop with the bag of coins before tossing it on the floor outside the shop.

"When we do business, we need to make a profit, of course. If you don't want people to earn your money, then don't buy," Mr Chew said.

He added that customers were free to walk out and make complaints at any time. The shop eventually gave Ms Zhou about $550 in coins and the remaining amount in notes.

When asked to verify Mr Chew's version of events, Ms Liu admitted to tossing the bag of coins on the floor.

"But I wouldn't have done it if the shop hadn't done it first," she said.

Ms Zhou had earlier told TNP that the staff member had thrown the bag of coins on the floor in the shop and asked her to count them there.

Ms Liu said: "I wanted to claim the money because I live here and I know my rights. Look at how they treat me when they're in the wrong."

She revealed that she had changed the $550 in coins to notes at a bank yesterday.

ABOUT THE CASE

Ms Zhou had gone to Mobile Air at Sim Lim Square on Sept 24 and paid $1,600 for an iPhone 6 Plus.

But after signing a "contract", she was told she had to pay another $2,400 for a two-year "insurance plan". After much haggling, she paid an additional $1,400, and later filed a complaint at the Small Claims Tribunal.

The shop was then ordered to refund her $1,010 by Oct 17.

But she said when her aunt tried to collect the money on her behalf on several occasions, the shop refused to pay up.

When she finally went back to the shop on Oct 28, the staff gave her the full amount in coins. She said they verbally abused and taunted her, while forcing her and her aunt to count the money on the floor.

She took almost three hours to count about $550 in coins.

When the media showed up, the shop relented and agreed to pay the rest in notes.


This article was first published on October 31, 2014.
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