Case Studies For March 2017

Case Study #1

In June 2016, *Mr Zhu signed up for a three year magazine subscription for a total of $430. He was informed that he would be able to receive a free chess set after subscribing to the magazine. The expected redemption date for the free gift was recorded as August 2016 in the invoice. However, when Mr Zhu contacted the company for the redemption of the chess set, he was told that the chess set was out of stock and there was no confirmation on when the new stock would arrive. Mr Zhu had yet to receive the chess set after a month.

Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA), it is an unfair practice to offer gifts, prizes or other free items in conjunction with the supply of goods and services if the supplier knows or ought to know that the items will not be provided or provided as offered. CASE negotiated with the company and Mr Zhu was able to receive the promised chess set promptly.

Case Study #2

In October 2016, Mdm Lum*, a 67 year-old elderly woman, was approached by a sales promoter for custom-made insoles. The promoter reassured her that the custom-made insoles will help to prevent feet and leg soreness or pain when walking. Mdm Lum tried the insoles and feedback to the promoter that it was causing her pain. The promoter disregarded her concerns reassured her that this was normal and the insole would be comfortable after she wore them for some time. The sales promoter was very persistent and Mdm Lum eventually relented and paid $340. A day later, Mdm Lum felt that she should not be wearing insoles that would cause her pain on the very first day. As the company had yet to manufacture the custom-made insoles, Mdm Lum requested to cancel the order and asked for a refund.

Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA), it is an unfair practice to take advantage of a consumer who is not in a position to protect his own interests. CASE negotiated with the company and both parties eventually agreed for Mdm Lum to select a pair of comfortable shoes worth $250 and a refund of the balance amount of money as the final settlement.

Case Study #3

Mr Roy* engaged a renovation contractor on July 2016 for $34,500 and paid $2,000 as a deposit. He was advised by the contractor to sign the contract by the end of the month to avoid paying GST before the company was GST registered. Two months later, the Mr Roy and the contractor agreed to amicable terminate the contract. As no work was done, Mr Roy requested for a full refund of the $2,000 deposit. However, the contractor was only willing to refund $1,750, citing GST as the reason for the shortfall. Mr Roy checked the contractor’s status via IRAS and found out that they were not GST registered. He requested for a refund of the $250.

Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA), it is an unfair practice to make false claims in relation to a consumer transaction. CASE negotiated with the contractor and Mr Roy was able to get back a full refund of his deposit.

Case Study #4

In December 2015, Ms Tay* visited a slimming centre for a free trial and subsequently purchased a slimming package from the company for $9,600. During the first treatment, another consultant entered the treatment room to examine her body. The consultant started commenting that Ms Tay’s body was not ideal and that she should sign up for more treatments. Ms Tay indicated to her current consultant that she was uncomfortable and only wanted her sole presence during treatments. Several treatments later, a different consultant entered the treatment room to examine Ms Tay’s body and again attempted to persuade her to sign up for more packages. She felt dissatisfied with the services of the slimming centre and requested to cancel her existing package for a partial refund.

CASE highlighted to the slimming centre that it is an unfair practice under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) to exert undue pressure on the consumer to enter into a contract. The slimming centre eventually agreed to refund the balance $4,300 in the package to Ms Tay.

Case Study #5

In January 2017, Mdm Chan* visited a chiropractor and decided to sign up for a one-month trial package. When she attempted to pay by cash, the salesperson persuaded her to pay using credit card, claiming that this would be more convenient for her. Mdm Chan thus gave the salesperson her credit card for payment. When the salesperson returned, she realised that he had signed her up (and paid) for a one-year contract priced at $4,000 without her consent. Mdm Chan felt that the sales tactics implemented by the company was unethical and requested to cancel her package for a refund.

CASE highlighted to the chiropractor that it is an unfair practice to make false claims in relation to a consumer transaction under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA). The chiropractor eventually provided Mdm Chan with a full refund of $4,000.

*Please note that surnames have been changed to ensure the privacy of the consumers.

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, please do not hesitate to seek assistance from CASE. For general enquiries, you can call our hotline at 6100 0315 between 9am and 5pm from Mondays to Fridays and between 9am and 12pm on Saturdays. For an in-depth consultation with our officers, please visit us at 170 Ghim Moh Road, #05-01 Ulu Pandan Community Building, between 9am and 4pm from Mondays to Saturdays. You can also file a complaint online here.

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