Consumer Advisory – CASE alerts consumers on complaints received against fire extinguisher salespersons
 

The Consumers Association of Singapore (“CASE”) wishes to alert consumers to complaints received against unfair practices employed by fire extinguisher salespersons in door-to-door sales.

 

Background

From 1 January 2019 to 29 February 2020, CASE received 49 consumer complaints against fire extinguisher suppliers and/or their salespersons. Amongst these are complaints received against three fire extinguisher suppliers - SG Fire Prevention, Singapore Fire Prevention Pte Ltd (“Singapore Fire Prevention”) and Fire Safety and Prevention (SG).

 

Entity

No. of Complaints Received

SG Fire Prevention

15

Singapore Fire Prevention Pte Ltd

14

Fire Safety and Prevention (SG)

8

Table 1: Number of complaints received against each entity from 1 January 2019 to 29 February 2020


According to the consumers, fire extinguisher salespersons had made unsolicited calls on their residences to sell fire extinguishers. Many of these unsolicited calls were made after reports of fire in their neighbourhoods. In most cases, consumers alleged that they had been misled by salespersons purporting to be representing or endorsed by the authorities. Some also claim that it was mandatory by law to have fire extinguishers at home.

Consumers also complained that the salespersons initially quoted them a lower price for the fire extinguisher, but later informed them that a substantially higher amount was payable as the purchase included warranty and servicing costs as part of a multi-year package.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has clarified that there is no regulatory requirement for residential home owners to purchase fire extinguishers. CASE was also informed that the SCDF is not involved in any sales of fire extinguishers and has not authorised any company to conduct such activities on its behalf.

 

The CPFTA and Its Subsidiary Regulations

Under the CPFTA, it is an unfair practice for a supplier to make misleading and/or false claims. Consumers who encounter such unfair practices have the right to seek redress.

Further, under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Cancellation of Contracts) Regulations (“COC Regulations”), consumers have the right to cancel a direct sales contract within five days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays) after the contract is signed and they are informed of the right to cancel the contract in accordance with the COC Regulations. This is commonly known as the five-day cooling-off period. A direct sales contract is a consumer transaction which is entered into during an unsolicited visit to the consumer’s residence/workplace by a supplier, also known as door-to-door sales.

 

Engagement with Fire Extinguisher Suppliers

In response to consumer complaints, CASE had issued warning letters to these fire extinguisher suppliers for the alleged unfair practices and for not honouring the five-day cooling-off period stipulated under the CPFTA and the COC Regulations respectively.

CASE is of the view that it is unethical for suppliers to prey on consumers’ fears and create a false sense of urgency in consumers to buy fire extinguishers by making false claims that it is a regulatory requirement to purchase fire extinguishers.

CASE takes a serious view against errant suppliers that persist in egregious conduct against consumers and will continue to monitor the situation very closely. This Consumer Advisory is to highlight the unacceptable conduct of the errant fire extinguisher suppliers.

 

Consumer Advice

Consumers are also advised to take note of the following for door-to-door sales:

  • Consumers should exercise caution against anyone who purports to represent any government agency. They should always request for proper identification for verification. They may also call the hotline of the respective government agency to verify.
  • Consumers should verify the actual amount they are to be charged, before making payment.
  • Consumers should exercise their right to turn down a salesperson who uses aggressive pressure sales tactics. Be polite but firm when stating their refusal.
  • If consumers do not wish to proceed with the purchase, they can cancel a direct sales contract within five days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays) after the contract is signed and they are informed of the right to cancel the contract in accordance with the COC Regulations. They may cancel the contract by delivering a notice of cancellation personally to the business, or by sending the notice via email, post or fax. Suppliers are required to provide a refund to consumers within 60 days after the notice is given.
  • Consumers with unresolved disputes can approach CASE for assistance (hotline: 6100 0315, website: www.case.org.sg).
Consumer Advisory – CASE alerts consumers against aggressive pressure sales tactics in the beauty industry
 

The Consumers Association of Singapore (“CASE”) would like to alert consumers against aggressive pressure sales tactics that are used by the beauty industry during purchase transactions. Consumers who do not wish to enter into a purchase transaction have the right to decline and walk away. Consumers who encounter such pressure sales tactics can approach CASE for assistance.

 

Background

In 2018, CASE received 1,829 complaints against the beauty industry. Specifically, 344 of these complaints were made by consumers who complained about alleged pressure sales tactics, which was a 18% increase from 2017.

 

In response to the consumer complaints, CASE had issued warning letters to entities that had complaints of pressure sales complaints alleged against them. CASE warned them on the number of complaints received by consumers and of their obligation under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (“CPFTA”). Under the CPFTA, it is an unfair practice for a supplier to exert undue pressure or influence on a consumer to enter into a transaction. CASE had also entered into Voluntary Compliance Agreements (“VCAs”) with entities where they agree to cease the unfair practice.

 

Despite its intervention, CASE continued to receive pressure sales complaints against these entities:

(i) Ecoin.Sg C Pte. Ltd. / New Station 27 Pte. Ltd. (collectively “Ecoin”);

(ii) Joyre TCMedi Spa Pte. Ltd. / Jia Le Beauty Pte. Ltd. (collectively “Joyre”);

(iii) Nail Palace Pte. Ltd. (“Nail Palace”);

(iv) Salon One Beauty Salon Pte. Ltd. (“Salon One Beauty”); and

(v) Tokyo Bust Express Pte. Ltd. (“Tokyo Bust”).

 

The full list of companies associated with (i), (ii) and (iii) can be found in Appendix 1. The number of alleged pressure sales complaints received against these entities are found in Table 1 below.

 

Entity

No. of Alleged Pressure Sales Complaints Received

Ecoin.Sg C Pte. Ltd. / New Station 27 Pte. Ltd.

26

Joyre TCMedi Spa Pte. Ltd. / Jia Le Beauty Pte. Ltd.

33

Nail Palace Pte. Ltd.

29

Salon One Beauty Salon Pte. Ltd.

21

Tokyo Bust Express Pte. Ltd.

37

Table 1: Number of Alleged Pressure Sales Complaints Received against Each Entity from 1 January 2017 to 30 June 2019

 

Complaints in the Beauty Industry

CASE takes a serious view against entities who persist in egregious conduct in their push for a sale transaction. CASE intends to engage such entities with the view of entering into VCAs with them. CASE is also monitoring entities which have entered into VCAs very closely and will not hesitate to refer errant suppliers to the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore for investigation under the CPFTA. Consumers who encounter suppliers with egregious conduct can approach CASE for assistance.

 

Consumer Tips

Meanwhile, consumers who plan to purchase beauty services are advised to take note of the following:

  • Patronise a CaseTrust accredited spa and wellness businesses. These businesses offer a five-day cooling off period for consumers to seek a refund of unutilised services if they do not wish to proceed with the packages signed. These businesses also provide a stress-free treatment as they are not allowed to engage in sales pitches during the treatment.
  • Exercise your right and walk away from a dubious deal with unclear terms or aggressive pressure sales tactics. Be polite but firm when stating your refusal. You can consider bringing a friend or family member along and/or call the police if you are barred from leaving. Remember that you always have the right to walk away and should never be restrained from leaving.
  • If you start to feel overwhelmed, uneasy or intimidated during the sales pitch, request to stop the treatment session and leave the premises. Refrain from making any financial commitments.
  • Beware of “special discount” or “one-time only” offers. Staff may take the opportunity to push packages and leave little time for consideration.
  • Seek medical consultation. Before committing to any beauty treatment or packages, it is advisable to seek the opinion of a medical doctor. 
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