People’s Park Complex is rapidly becoming another mall which is related to errant retailers ripping consumers off.
The number of criticisms made against retailers -titled mall has soared from 11 in 2006 to 41 a year ago.
This year’s amount is expected to surpass that of a year ago, using 40 criticisms being logged by the Consumers Association of Singapore from January to August.
Generally, errant retailers reel by showing ultra-low costs for mobile phones.
These customers hand out their credit cards or cash, but are then told they have to unlock the mobiles or to fork out more for guarantees.
Before the excess sum is paid the retailers refuse to deliver the phones.
On the other hand, grievances against stores at two other malls – Lucky Plaza and Sim Lim Square – where many renters are long connected with such scams, appear to reduce this year (see table).
But this tendency may be linked to the increasing scams at People’s Park Complex.
Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said there’s a “merry-go- round” of rogue retailers going between the three malls.
“Errant company owners are new renters and previously from other annoying malls,” said Mr Seah, adding that the more demanding stand taken by management in Lucky Plaza and Sim Lim Square could be shoving these retailers to People’s Park Complex.
Case has and the management committee of People’s Park Complex met twice last month. The committee is thinking about putting up blacklists of errant retailers on the premises of the mall.
Staff at two of the stores maintained that their managers were not available when approached for comments. One of them even claimed that he was new there and would not comment.
But electrician Lu Hu explained how he was tempted with a $736 price tag to get a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 at Mobile Sensation on the mall’s first floor.
The 25-year old handed over $780 for the phone in cash inclusive of taxes, having browsed the internet. When he demanded for the phone, the shop assistant told him to pay additional $39.90 to unlock the phone for two years “so that it could be used in Singapore”.
Mr Lu signed an invoice and consented. The storekeeper disappeared and returned afterwards to say that he had billed the credit card of a staff for an extra $1,024 and the phone was unlocked. He requested that sum to be paid up by Mr. Lu.
“I was dumbfounded and I inquired why it was for so much,” said the Chinese national, who added the shopkeeper then showed him the invoice he had signed.
To his amazement, he realised the invoice said in small print the $39.90 unlocking fee was for each month for two years.
He finally paid a total of $1,804 for the phone.
The phone is retailing at $798 which includes a warranty, at authorised telecoms stores.
Such scams are disturbing aboveboard businesses in the mall. Sales, they said, have dropped over the previous year by up to 30%.
Several described seeing customers weeping after being fleeced or being intimidated by the scammers.
The shop owners refused to be named as they tend be harassed by the errant store owners, but five of them revealed that the mall’s management committee has been approached by them by making use of their issues.
Several described seeing customers weeping after being swindled or being intimidated by the scammers.
A 27 years old sales executive in a mobile phone shop said that customers simply go through the phone cost and go to these criminals instead. He added that they lost customers as they could not match their prices.”