Most consumer complaints about car industry: Case
Case: Top four groups with most complaints include beauty, renovation, and electrical and electronics sectors
What was supposed to be a routine purchase ended up giving Mr Sim more trouble than he bargained for.
Early last year, the 50-year-old import managerbought a second-hand car from what he thought was a "reputable company".
After two months, the car started making loud humming noises on the road. Concerned for his safety, Mr Sim did simple checks and realised his car had a defective axle.
Subsequent efforts to contact the seller were fruitless. Only after he approached Case did the matter get resolved - the company ended up paying for half the repair costs.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Mr Sim said: "I knew that buying a second-hand car, it would have some issues, but the sellers have to be responsive and responsible too."
Mr's Sim's problem with the car company is not uncommon here.
According to a release issued by Case yesterday, the motorcar industry and renovation contractors were two of four groups with the most complaints last year.
The other two industries were beauty, and electrical and electronics, and the statistics mirrored the numbers from 2016.
The four sectors together accounted for 40 per cent of the 15,744 complaints Case received last year.
Through direct intervention with businesses, the consumer watchdog helped to resolve 77.2 per cent of filed cases, a 0.6 per cent increase from the year before.
The association also helped consumers to get back $2.13 million in cash and in kind last year, up from $1.95 million in 2016.
The most number of grievances was against the motorcar industry, accounting for 15 per cent of all Case complaints last year.
The beauty industry had the second most complaints at 9 per cent, followed by both the renovation, and electrical and electronics sectors at 8 per cent each.
In its release, Case said defective cars were the biggest gripe consumers had in relation to the motorcar industry. More than half the complaints received - 52 per cent - were about defective cars, up from 40 per cent in 2013.
Madam Nordiah Abdullah is someone who had renovation trouble. She thought the job of installing appliances and repainting her apartment was easy enough, but it turned into a long-drawn "frustrating" experience for the 55-year-old shop assistant.
She told TNP that a renovation contractor she had hired for $7,000 last year "almost ran off" with her money.
"He did not pick up my calls, but when my friend called him pretending to be a new customer, he would answer. It was only after I went to the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) did he finish the work, months later," she said.
In the beauty industry, the most complaints revolved around sales tactics for brow, facial, make-up, manicure and massage services and hair removal, said Case.
"When compared across the years, we noted an increasing trend in the percentage of high pressure sales tactics complaints, from 15 per cent in 2013 to 21 per cent in 2017," it said.
More than half the complaints in the electrical and electronics industry were over defective goods, including washing machines, vacuum cleaners and television sets. This went up from 31 per cent in 2013.
The most common complaint in the renovation sector was the failure to meet contractual obligations and deadlines, like in Madam Nordiah's case.
According to Case, the proportion of these cases hit 25 per cent last year, nearly double the 13 per cent in 2013.
Case said in its release that it plans to engage and educate more consumers in the four industries by organising more educational talks and exhibitions on engaging a renovation contractor, for example, and what to look out for when buying electrical and electronic products.
It also aims to promote the adoption of the Standard and Functional Evaluation checklist for used car buyers.
Case executive director Loy York Jiun reminded consumers to stay vigilant and read up on their rights to avoid being taken advantage of.
"Consumers should always read the terms and conditions of the contract before signing, and check invoices and receipts to ensure accuracy of prices and products or service description.
"They can also refer to Case's website for more industr- specific tips for shopping," he told TNP.
"We encourage consumers with unresolved disputes to approach Case for further assistance (hotline: 6100-0315, website: www.case.org.sg)."