Singapore

Durian customers cry foul as online orders fail to bear fruit

A few people have lodged reports after failing to receive orders made on website or were sent rotting goods

It was a more bitter than sweet experience for some 200 durian lovers who made large orders with an online seller only to be left with empty promises.

Some claimed they had placed orders ranging from $300 to $900 with duriansexpressdelivery.com, but there was no express delivery or durians at all.

The customers have since started a Facebook group - with around 200 members - to share their experiences and attempt to seek recourse.

Two of them told The Straits Times that they had filed police reports, and another three said they were considering doing likewise.

ST interviewed 20 people who had made orders totalling more than $8,000 on the same website. They had e-statements showing payments made through credit card, debit card and Internet banking.

Housewife Annie Ng, 31, said she waited an entire afternoon on July 10 for the $500 worth of durians she had ordered. Hours later, she still could not contact the seller, and her situation began to reek of a scam.

After some online sleuthing, she realised the site she had patronised had a very similar URL to durianexpressdelivery.com, the website of a legitimate business, Durian Express Delivery, with a barely noticeable difference of an "s".

Most of the 20 customers ST spoke to said they had seen Instagram and Facebook posts by "Top Grade Durian" that offered express deliveries within three hours from 11am to 11pm daily. They made purchases at a linked website, duriansexpressdelivery.com, where the checkout process was similar to that of online food delivery services.

But all of them did not receive electronic receipts or invoices by e-mail - which raised a red flag as it is common in e-commerce to provide an e-receipt.

Ms Ng said she and her husband had paid around $35 per kg for the durians, which worked out to more than $120 for each fruit, which averages 3-4kg each.

"The thing that infuriates me most is that we got scammed not because we were being cheap and wanted to get durians at lower prices. We thought we were paying a premium for the best durians ever but we ended up getting cheated," Ms Ng said.

She said that duriansexpressdelivery.com was taken down a day after she filed a police report on July 13.

A man in his 40s, who gave his name only as Mr Muhammad, said he had ordered $600 worth of durians as a birthday present for his wife.

He added: "We are still in the process of filing complaints with Case and we hope to get our money back and get some justice."

Case is the Consumers Association of Singapore.

Besides the 20 customers whose orders were not fulfilled, two others told ST they did receive durians - but they were frozen hard with rotting seeds and flesh. They made police reports after the company refused to give them a refund.

Checks revealed the company Top Grade Cheap Frozen Durian was set up in June under a Jasper Tan Zhi Hong with a registered Tampines HDB residential address. Attempts to reach Mr Tan at the address and on cellphone were unsuccessful.

A check with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority yesterday found the firm had changed its address on July 14 and now lists the Orchard Road address of a management consultancy firm of a different name. Its staff said they did not know of Mr Tan or his company.

Food & Drink