The Singapore Police have confirmed that “police reports have been lodged against Mobile Air”, the shop at Sim Lim Square which has been in the news this past week for allegedly unfair and dishonest sales tactics.
The authorities also disclosed that it is looking into a complaint of intentional harassment at the shop which is located at unit #01-41 at the electronics shopping centre.
The offence, classified under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, carries a maximum fine of S$5,000.
It is unclear what these police reports are exactly about, although there have been more news reports of Mobile Air engaging in allegedly dishonest sales behaviour towards its customers since it first emerged that it had purportedly scammed a Vietnamese tourist of an iPhone deal last week.
According to the Consumers’ Association of Singapore (CASE), it has so far received 25 complaints from the public about Mobile Air in the months from August to October.
CASE has blacklisted about 10 shops at Sim Lim Square and has posted a list of them at the shopping mall itself.
On Friday, a reporter with The New Paper (TNP) said that the owner of Mobile Air, Jover Chew, had forwarded the calls he received to her on Wednesday.
“I received 201 phone calls in five hours,” Elizabeth Law said in the paper.
“Netizens felt the authorities were not doing enough about rogue traders at Sim Lim Square and took their own form of citizen justice on Mr Chew, who has become the face of the “Sim Lim saga”.
“Satirical group SMRT Ltd (Feedback) posted his personal details on its Facebook page, asking fans to call him.
“This was how I ended up receiving all their calls when Mr Chew diverted them to my phone.
“It was awful.”
Meanwhile, the Sim Lim management council said on Friday that it is hoping for a change in the law so that it will be able to institute their own by-laws to allow them to deal with errant tenants.
Sim Lim Square has about 480 shops which are owned by a few hundred landlords, the Straits Times reported.
“Most rental agreements are negotiated between landlords and tenants, and the management is currently not able to kick out recalcitrant shops,” the newspaper said.
If the management is allowed, by law, to introduce a by-law to terminate the tenancy agreements of unscrupulous retailers, it will help them deal more effectively with the problem of a few errant retailers which the management says have tarnished the reputation of the mall.
Mr Sunny Chew, the council’s assistant secretary, said: “We need the authorities to take action so that we can weed out these shops. In the last five years, we have not been able to find a permanent solution.”
On Thursday, CASE’s president, Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan, said he will raise the issue in Parliament, and will push for amendments to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA).
Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin also said on Friday that the government “should see how to strengthen or adjust our laws to deal with these cases where individuals face such hurdles to seek resolution.”
“We operate closely to the law,” Mr Tan said. “In some instances, the laws do not provide for particular actions and even if we may not like it, we can’t go beyond the remits of the laws. So in these instances, we may have to review it.”
In the meantime, the executive director of CASE, Seah Seng Choon, had this advice for consumers:
“We hope that consumers will be able to stand firm and say ‘no’ to pressure sales tactics. Their money is in their wallet, and they can choose not to sign the sales agreement and pay the money.”