'Only the signboard is different'
New shop replaces Mobile Air at Sim Lim Square, but mall's spokesman says everything in the shop is the same
Mobile Air, the Sim Lim Square shop notorious for its unfair trade practices, is apparently no more.
In its place is a new mobile phone shop, which will be called HJ Mobile, said a man who identified himself as a partner in the new business.
When The New Paper visited the shop yesterday, Mobile Air's name had been removed from the space next to the shop's signboard where it used to be.
No other name was in its place. The partner who gave his name as Mr Ricky Lee, 33, said he did not have time to put up the new name as he was busy doing stocktaking.
He said he bought Mobile Air's remaining stock from its owner, Mr Jover Chew, and took over the lease on Nov 5.
He claimed that Mr Chew is not involved in HJ Mobile.
Mr Lee declined to reveal how much he paid for the store, but said that the amount was "below market price".
He said he was aware of the poor reputation Mobile Air gained recently, after it refunded a customer $1,010 in coins last month.
She was returned the amount after complaining to the Small Claims Tribunal about being forced to pay $1,400 for an in-house warranty for an iPhone 6 Plus.
About a week later, Mr Chew and his shop received more flak for refusing to refund a Vietnamese tourist who went on his knees to beg. He, too, fell for the shop's in-house warranty sales tactic.
After netizens targeted Mr Chew and his wife by revealing their personal details online, Mobile Air remained closed for about a week.
Mr Lee said he planned to "do a good promotion" to attract customers to his shop.
"I will sell my products at a cheaper price - below market rate - to attract customers," he added.
He said he used to work for Mr Chew. He later worked in a shop called JW World in Sim Lim Square for about four months last year.
A few customers were observed visiting the shop yesterday, including three Caucasians. Two men in the shop attended to them.
TNP recognised them as employees of Mobile Air. When asked what they were doing there, one of them, who declined to give his name, replied that they were helping with the stocktaking before handing over the business. Mr Lee confirmed this.
Mr Sean Chia, the mall's spokesman, told TNP that the security guards alerted him to the new shop's opening.
"Everything in the shop is the same. The people working there are the same. It's just the signboard that is different," said Mr Chia, who is also the personal assistant to the chairman of Sim Lim Square's management team.
TNP could not find any records of HJ Mobile on the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) registry.
When queried, Mr Lee admitted that he has yet to register the business with Acra. He said: "I will register next week as I'm now busy with stocktaking."
Lawyer Rajan Supramaniam from Hilborne Law said that opening for business before registering with Acra is illegal.
Another lawyer, Mr Raphael Louis from Ray Louis Law Corporation, pointed out: "According to the Business Registration Act, a person who carries on a business without being registered can be jailed up to a year and fined up to $5,000."
Although Mobile Air has now been replaced by HJ Mobile, Mr Chew is still not off the hook.
Singapore's consumer watchdog, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), said it is taking out an injunction against Mobile Air after it declined to sign a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) and pledge to stop its unfair practices.
If the injunction is granted by a court, Mobile Air will be restricted from engaging in unfair practices as stated in the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.
Case executive director Seah Seng Choon told TNP yesterday: "We will still proceed with the injunction against Mobile Air, and the company is still liable to answer to the charge."
A spokesman for Case said two shops in People's Park Complex, Tele Infinity and Mobile Alliance, have also been asked to sign a VCA.
The deadline they have been given to consider this is one week from today.
While Mobile Air is supposedly now defunct, it recently set up a Facebook account.Posts on the page feature a mix of products for sale, news reports and critical comments about Mobile Air, making it unclear as to whether it is the company's official account or a spoof page created as part of the online attack on Mr Chew.