Consumer Advisory - Consumers should be aware of risk of losing protection under consumer laws if they allow businesses to make home visits in exchange for free or discounted goods/service

From 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2017, CASE handled 117 complaint cases involving door-to-door sales. Of these, around 30% of consumers said that they had accepted the business’s request to visit their homes when they were at a shopping mall, roadshow or trade fair and they were offered some gifts. After receiving permission to visit, the business would take the opportunity to promote their goods or services to the consumer.

CASE is concerned as these consumers may lose their protection under existing consumer laws.

In general, under the Regulation 4 of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Cancellation of Contracts) Regulations 2009 (“Regulations”), consumers have the right to cancel a direct sales contract within five days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays) from the date of signing of the contract provided the visit was unsolicited. An unsolicited visit occurs when the business visits the consumer’s home/workplace without the express request of the consumer. Cancellation of a contract regulated under the Regulations can be effected by delivering a notice of cancellation personally to the business (or the designated person), or sending the notice by pre-paid post or fax.

However, CASE wishes to advise consumers that the above protection may not apply when the business visits at the express request of the consumer. By accepting the business’s request to visit their homes, the visit can no longer be said to be unsolicited.

Hence, CASE wishes to offer the following advice if you have invited the business to visit your home:

  • Verify the legitimacy of the business by asking for their identification documents.
  • Do not be pressured into signing the agreement. You have the right to say ‘no’, and can consider calling the police if the business refuses to leave your home.
  • Get a copy of the sales agreement, which should include the full terms and conditions, breakdown of price, business’s contact information (i.e. business address, email and phone number) and refund policy. Any verbal promises made by the business should be put down in writing.
  • Where possible, you should buy from CaseTrust-Direct Selling Association of Singapore (DSAS) accredited businesses ( as they have committed themselves to fair trading and a seven days cooling-off period for consumers.

We encourage consumers with unresolved disputes against such businesses to approach CASE (hotline: 6100 0315, website: for further assistance.

Consumer Advisory - Chargeback protects credit card users against dispute transactions

A review done by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) on credit card industry practices found that chargeback protection is available for consumers’ prepayment for non-delivery of goods and services in the event of business insolvency. However, there seems to be a lack of clear and specific directions for consumers on how to file a chargeback application on card issuers’1 website. In view of this, CASE has compiled a basic chargeback guide for consumers based on the guidelines of major international credit card providers and local banks. The guide explains how consumers who pay by credit cards can ask for a chargeback within 120 days of the date of transaction for non-delivery of goods and services; delivery of unfit goods and services; transaction errors and/or unauthorised transactions.

Prepayment refers to money paid in advance to a business (either in the form of the purchase price or a deposit) before completion of the service or delivery of the goods. The collection of prepayment is popular in many industries, notably in the purchase of beauty or travel packages, fitness club memberships, home renovation services, as well as big-ticket items such as cars, furniture, electrical and electronic goods. However, in the case of business insolvency, consumers, as unsecured creditors, have little chance to recover their prepayment.

As Singapore continues to push for a Smart Nation and the adoption of cashless payment systems, we can expect credit cards to continue to be one of the preferred payment methods. As such, we would like to highlight the chargeback mechanism for credit cards - an existing form of consumer protection which allows consumers to dispute a charge and reverse the transaction should a purchase goes awry.

Upon submission of the chargeback claim, the card issuer will investigate to determine if the claim is valid. If the card issuer determines that the chargeback is valid, the card issuer will proceed to initiate a chargeback with the acquiring bank2. Consumers with disputes involving credit card transactions can visit their card issuer’s website or contact their card issuer directly for more information on the chargeback procedure.

While most consumers may recover their prepayments by requesting for a chargeback, this option may not be available for those who purchased goods or services with their credit cards under instalment payment plans (IPP). This is because the card issuer had already made full payment to the business on behalf of the consumer. Consumers are still liable to continue paying their instalments to the card issuer unless the business agrees to terminate the IPP and refund the bank.

Lastly, CASE would also like to strongly urge all card issuers to provide a step-by-step guide on how to lodge a chargeback claim prominently on their websites. This should include details of situations in which consumers may have the need to lodge a claim, such as loss of their prepayments in the event of business insolvency.

A copy of the chargeback guide for consumers can be downloaded here.

1The bank that issue credit cards to consumers.

2The bank that processes credit card payments on behalf of a business.  


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