CASE: CUSTOMER CAN REFUSE PAYMENT IN COINS
Inconvenient, but not illegal.
By paying the $1,010 refund in coins, it seems that the shop staff may have breached the Monetary Authority of Singapore's Currency Act.
Under the Act, any sum can be paid in $1 coins.
But payments of more than $10 in 50-cent coins can be refused. Miss Zhou could also have refused coins in smaller denominations than 50 cents for any payment above $2.
But as Miss Zhou was not shortchanged and she took about $550 in coins home, it would indicate that she had accepted the payment, said criminal lawyer Rajan Supramaniam.
"It was inconvenient for her, but given that she accepted the payment, it would not have been illegal," he said.
This was echoed by Consumers Association of Singapore's (Case) executive director Seah Seng Choon.
"If the consumer had rejected the coins and given written notice to the retailer that she would not accept the payment, the retailer will still owe the consumer the (original) amount," he said.
He added that it would be an offence only if the retailer had impaired, diminished, lightened or defaced the coins.
Mr Seah said 17 complaints had been lodged against the shop, Mobile Air, this year.
Notices pasted around Sim Lim Square highlight that Mobile Air received the highest number of complaints - 14 in total - filed with Case among all shops between July and September this year.
On what to do in such a situation, Mr Seah said: "The consumer has the right to decide whether to accept or reject payment in coins in accordance to the Currency Act."
BY THE numbers
AMOUNT OF COINS MISS ZHOU RECEIVED
HOW MANY COINS PER PAYMENT IS ACCEPTABLE?