What If a Shop Vendor Sells Me a Grossly Overpriced Piece of Merchandise?
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If the above sounds familiar to you, you may have been the victim of a con-job, or, to put it more accurately, an unfair practice. Fear not, however.
When you purchase a product from a retailer for personal use, you become what is known legally as a consumer, and you come under the insurance of consumer protection laws in Singapore. Such laws can be found within legislation such as the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA).
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If you encounter such a situation, try to resolve the dispute with the seller directly first. If that fails, you can lodge a complaint with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE)! 🤧 – A complaint against the seller can be lodged with CASE on the grounds of “unfair practice”. Examples of unfair practices are listed in the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. 📖 This includes charging a much higher price for a product (as compared to the estimate provided), making false claims, and taking advantage of buyers. It’s also possible to lodge a complaint with CASE if you were pressured into buying a product, or lied to about a product’s qualities! 😤😤 – If the complaints are successful, victims may be able to return their purchase for a full refund. 💰 Alternatively, they may also sue the seller for restitution (i.e. return of wrongfully-paid money), but the legal costs involved may not be worth it. As a whole, if negotiations with the seller fail, it may be best to seek CASE’s help in enforcing your consumer rights. 🙇♀️ #SingaporeLegalAdvice
What are Some Examples of Unfair Practices?
Examples of unfair practices include:
1. Being sold the product at prices higher than the recommended retail price
The legality of the first example depends on how much higher the actual price is compared to the recommended retail price.
For example, the iPad 2’s suggested retail price starts at S$668 for the 16 GB model but, as the name suggests, the price is only a suggested or recommended price. It is the prerogative of the retailer to ignore such suggestions and sell the product at a higher price.
However, as stated in the Second Schedule of the CPFTA, charging a price substantially higher than the estimate provided is an unfair practice.
2. Being forced to honour a sale without the seller stating the final price beforehand
3. Being subjected to pressure tactics, and/or being lied to
The use of pressure tactics to heckle the consumer into buying the item just to stop being harassed can constitute duress.
Lying about the qualities of a product may constitute misrepresentation. Both may have the effect of voiding the sale transaction, i.e. the transaction being treated as if it never occurred in the first place. If so, the consumer may return the purchase in exchange for a full refund.
4. Being sold goods which turned out to be defective
5. Other unfair practices
Other unfair practices include deceiving, making false claims, and taking advantage of the consumer.
Options Available to Victims
If you encounter any unfair practice, your first course of action should be to try and resolve the dispute with the seller directly.
If that fails, you may lodge a complaint with the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE).
Alternatively, you may also sue and claim restitution, amongst other remedies, in court. Restitution allows the aggrieved consumer to retrieve his money, which was wrongfully paid. If the amount you are claiming for is not more than $20,000, you may sue in the Small Claims Tribunals (SCT). (The claim amount may be raised to $30,000 if the seller agrees to have the case heard in the SCT.)
To save yourself the stress however, it is highly recommended that you do your research on prices beforehand lest you end up committing yourself to pay for an item that turns out to be overly-priced later on.
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