The motorcar industry received the highest number of complaints for the fifth year in a row, notably for defects in cars, highlighted the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) in its release on consumer complaints on Friday, 17 February 2017.
The number of complaints for the motorcar industry increased slightly from 2,907 complaints in 2015 to 2,916 in 2016.
The beauty industry rose in ranking from third to second in the top ten industries ranking list.
The complaints for the clubs industry saw the biggest increase, jumping from 10th spot to fifth with 1,126 complaints last year, up from 623 complaints in 2015.
“In addition, the spate of businesses closing down abruptly last year after collection of prepayment from consumers is a serious concern,” CASE said.
In 2016, CASE received a total of 19,102 consumer complaints and achieved a 76.6 percent resolution rate for filed cases.
From 2014 to 2015, complaints about defective goods rose from 3,377 to 3,912 reports. Last year, the number increased further to 4,319.
However, defects in motorcars remain the top reason for consumers’ complaints, followed by electrical and electronics products, and hand phones, the release said.
To address the high number of complaints of defects in motorcars, CASE plans to hold a Motoring and You educational roadshow in conjunction with World Consumer Rights Day on 16 and 17 March 2017 at Change Alley, Chevron House. The purpose of the roadshow is to reach out to consumers and educate them about their rights under the Lemon Law and what they should look out for when buying a pre-owned motorcar.
Another area of concern for CASE is the exertion of undue pressure on a consumer to enter into a transaction, which is an unfair practice under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA).
The number of complaints involving unfair sales tactics in the beauty industry has also risen in the past three years.
The sales tactics employed by these businesses include:
- Promoting of beauty packages while the customer is undergoing treatment and in a vulnerable position, and withholding the treatment if the customer declines;
- Increasing the number of staff who persistently promote the beauty packages while deterring the customer from leaving;
- Withholding the customer’s credit/debit card unless the customer agrees to the purchase, or swiping a certain amount from the customer’s card without their prior consent.
In view of these complaints, CASE encourages all consumers to patronise CaseTrust-accredited Spa & Wellness businesses which are committed to a five-day cooling-off period and a ‘no selling’ policy in the treatment room to deter the use of pressure sales tactics. As of 31 January 2017, there were 697 businesses accredited under the CaseTrust Spa & Wellness Accreditation Scheme, CASE said.
On the issue of businesses closing down abruptly after collecting large amounts of prepayment from customers, the watchdog body said, “We will continue to engage the relevant authorities and advocate for better prepayment protection in Singapore.”
While CASE said that it will continue to champion consumer rights and promote fair trading in Singapore, its president Lim Biow Chuan, who is also a Member of Parliament, said, “Consumers have to play their part as well, by knowing their rights and responsibilities as a consumer, and doing their own checks on businesses before signing the contract.”