Case Studies For June 2012

Case Study #1

On 20 April 2012, Mr Sin* purchased 10 bottles of health supplements from a well-known company in China for RMB36680. He had specifically informed them that he was a vegetarian and the supplements had to be suitable for a vegetarian’s consumption. However, he later found out that some of the supplements contained ingredients that a vegetarian could not consume.

They misled Mr Sin to believe that they were one of the two health product companies that are accredited in China, when they are not. He was told that all the supplements he had purchased were self-manufactured but four out of the six items were gotten from other companies. Thus, Mr Sin wanted a full refund.

As CASE has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the China Consumers’ Association (CCA), we were able to write to them to ask for their assistance in seeking a refund for Mr Sin. After the company agreed to a refund, CASE and CCA worked closely through written correspondence to make arrangements for the health products to be shipped back to China and for the consumer to receive his refund. In the end, the company credited S$7350 to Mr Sin’s bank account while he sent the products back to the company through a courier.

NB: CASE has MOUs with countries such as China, Malaysia, India and Macau; as such we could assist local consumers who have issues with these overseas vendors. However, as different countries have different regulations, what is considered as an unfair practice here in Singapore may not be regarded as an unfair practice in other countries.

Case Study #2

On 3 January 2012, Ms Wong* ordered 2 branded bags and 2 kitchen appliances through a website. She paid $981.80 online with her credit card. When she received the items on 12 January, she noticed that one of the bags, which cost $388, was defective. She contacted the company immediately but they denied any responsibility and rejected her request for a replacement or refund. Ms Wong thus approached CASE for assistance. Through our officer’s negotiation, the company relented and agreed to replace the bag on a goodwill basis. Ms Wong received the new item in good condition on 22 May 2012.

NNB: CASE advises consumers to exercise caution when making purchases online. As the usual practice is to make payment first before an order can be confirmed and delivered, consumers might want to do a background check on merchants to ensure that they can be trusted before making any payment.

Case Study #3

On 16 March 2012, Mdm Tan bought travel insurance for 6 people, including herself, for $112 for their trip to Hatyai, Thailand. On 31 March 2012, there was a blast outside the hotel they were staying at. As a result, the hotel was cordoned off and the group returned to Singapore without their baggages.

Mdm Tan then submitted a claim to the insurance company for baggage delay and loss of items arising from the explosion. However, the company only offered them $200 per person on a goodwill basis. Their rationale is that according to the agreement, the incident did not fall under their scope of coverage.

According to the agreement;

"Baggage Delay benefit" covers only baggages checked in at the airport, while ""Loss or Damage of Baggage benefit" covers only the loss or damage arising from an accident or theft.

They view that since the baggages were recovered and safely kept by the hotel pending collection from the owners, it did not fall under the coverage scope.

Mdm Tan disagreed as she felt it was unsafe to return to Haytai to collect the baggages. She approached CASE for assistance. With CASE’s letter, the insurance company increased their offer to $300 per person, which Mdm Tan and her family accepted.

Case Study #4

Mr Sim* purchased a pair of shoes worth $200 from a shoe company. He was convinced to purchase a pair of bigger sized shoes as he was informed that he could wear the shoes with a pair of socks. Unfortunately, the shoes were still too big for him. Mr Sim reported his problem to the company immediately. The company informed Mr Sim that they would provide an exchange with another pair of smaller sized shoes once they have stock. However, Mr Sim was not able to exchange the shoes even after waiting for more than one year.

He reported the matter to CASE and the company were informed that they may have infringed upon - CPFTA Section 4(b) - false claims - Sale of Goods Act. The company proceeded to exchange to another pair of smaller sized shoes worth $200.

*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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