A message to all tourists in Singapore: Avoid Sim Lim Square, scammer central
Sim Lim Square, an electronic and computer mall at 1 Rochor Canal Road, Singapore, has the largest collection of unscrupulous scammers, scoundrels, scumbags and thugs in Singapore, targeting in particular unsuspecting tourists.
Please avoid Sim Lim Square, and compare prices before buying any electronic goods in Singapore, to ensure that your experience in Singapore is pleasant.
Shoppers should also guard against scammers and scoundrels in Lucky Plaza at Orchard Road and in Chinatown, where their concentration is high.
Welcome to Singapore, where the streets are free of touts, prices are the same for everyone, and taxi drivers always use the meter! So is Singapore truly scam-free? I’d have to say the answer is almost, but not quite. Tourists do occasionally get ripped off and nine times out of ten it happens at Sim Lim Square.
No pricetag scam
Goods and Services Tax (GST) scam
Missing component scam
Another version (here):
Most of the shady shops put their products without price tags. Obviously products without a pricetag are subjected to varying quotes from the seller. The seller normally will asses how stupid the buyer in before quoting a price. Remarks like ‘I am not familiar’ or ‘I am tourists’ will definitely result higher quote. In some instance, sellers will try to convince the buyer that the price they offer are the best by making the conversation seem secretive or uncomfortable for the seller.
In this scam, sellers would first quote potential buyers a price and then just before the buyer makes the payment they would tell the buyer that they’ll need to pay 7% GST on top of the quoted price. Most people would take this as something that they have no choice but to pay for. However, this is not true.
This scam will usually be employed together with the above GST scam. The seller will tell buyer that they can claim their GST back at the Changi Airport, Harbour Front or even Checkpoint.
This normally applies for software, but also to hardware at times in case they deemed the buyer to be stupid enough. Some Sim Lim Square shops were busted by the police for selling counterfeit copies of Microsoft Windows.
In this scam, the seller would quote the buyer a price that seemed awesomely cheap or too good to be true or both. After the buyer makes the purchase, the seller would then ask the buyer if the buyer would like to purchase accessories that would otherwise have been bundled with the product ranging from stupid stuff like straps to critical stuff like charger, battery and data cable.
Many scammy shops usually do not allow buyer to test a brand new unit unless the buyer is committed to buy it. In this scam, the seller would convince the buyer to purchase something that he/she would later find to be unsatisfactory (e.g. faulty or of lower standard or incomplete set) and then offer the buyer a top-up for a pricier product.
This is probably one of the most popular scams around. In this scam, the seller tries to lure the buyer into his shop by quoting a super low price for items that buyer wants – say Item A. When seller and buyer negotiate, the seller starts to make Item A sounds like a lousy products and start promoting Item B which buyer is not familiar with at ridiculous price. During the process, some shop used some ‘tweaked’ equipments to demonstrate how inferior Item A is.
In this scam, the seller and buyer negotiate for one item, but the seller delivers another. For example, the buyer is seeking a 16GB memory card, but is handed an 8GB card. If the buyer does not notice the switch before the money is exchanged, or the switch is done after the money is exchanged, the seller will pretend that the negotiation was always for the inferior product. Even if the buyer has not yet left the store, the seller will refuse a return or exchange.
During negotiation the seller tries to give impression that the item is indeed covered by manufacturer’s warranty while in reality the item you are buying are grey market without official warranty. Upon payment, buyer may or may not be notified that the warranty is actually shop warranty and not manufacturer’s warranty. Which leads the seller to …
The seller starts by trying to convince you on how ‘fragile’ / ‘valuable’ / ‘crappy’ your purchase is especially after manufacturer warranty expired. The seller could further comparing manufacturers warranty with piece of worthless toilet paper. This is often done after they are pretty sure you are going to buy the item (or worse… have bought the item).
This happens to some friends of mine who bought Nokia handphone from one of the seller in Chinatown. Everything looks fine until the phone broke down few months later. Upon visiting Nokia care, my friend was informed that the phone he bought was not covered under warranty and the warranty card that he owned were not for that phone – regardless whether it was an original copy or not.. Note that handphone’s warranty card usually contains IMEI number of the phone it covers (google ‘IMEI number’). Mismatched IMEI number usually results in warranty not being honored.
(see many complaints below) where a foul-mouthed salesman
swears at his scam victim in Hokkien (3:24) (youtube)
NAMED AND SHAMED
Shops with more than one complaint from December 2012 to February 2013
JW World: 12
Mobile Apps: 5
SMS Gaming LLP: 5
3Plus Mobile LLP: 5
Cyber Maestro: 4
Elite 3 Mobile: 4
Ray Technology: 3
Wee Mobile: 3
Square United Cam: 2
Source: Consumers Association of Singapore
Shamed Sim Lim Square retailers change signboards
Building management had pasted on walls and lift lobbies a list of shops that ripped off customers
AsiaOne, April 8, 2013 (source)
SINGAPORE - With apologies to the Bard, it seems that things aren't exactly smelling of roses at Sim Lim Square.
In February, the building management pasted on the complex's walls and lift lobbies a list of the shops that ripped off customers.
Now, some of these shamed shops have taken to changing their signboards to bypass bad press.
Their names, previously splashed in big type on the shopfronts, have now shrunk and are displayed on a small section of the sign board.
One of the shops that had a different name still printed its invoices bearing the old name.
In extreme cases, these errant retailers may even have gone for a drastic makeover - with a brand new name to boot. And it's perfectly legal for them to do it.
A Sim Lim Square spokesman said that shopkeepers in the complex who change their signboards simply have to alert the management beforehand and pay $26.75.
He said: "While we strive to keep tabs on the black-sheep retailers, (our hands are tied) as they are not breaking any rules by changing the signs."
And the retailers are being inventive as well.
Said the spokesman: "Last time, the shop name would take up maybe 90 per cent of the signboard. But now, some of the shops which were listed have put up signs with their names (occupying) 10 per cent of the space."
The errant ones are found mainly on the first three storeys of the complex. The majority sell mobile phones, tablets and phone accessories.
Changing signboards isn't the first attempt these black-sheep retailers have made to get around being named and shamed.
Shortly after the lists were put up, The New Paper reported how some lists were ripped off by unknown culprits.
Although the culprits were caught on camera, it was not possible to identify them from CCTV footage as it only showed the backs of the culprits.
The Sim Lim Square spokesman said the list-ripping stopped after the media reports.
This name-and-shame list is the latest attempt from the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) to warn customers about errant retailers at Sim Lim Square, which has around 400 shops.
But it's not just the naughty ones - who make up less than three per cent of tenants - that get publicity.
Case and the Singapore Tourism Board have also worked with the building management to alert shoppers to retailers who give honest service through the CaseTrust accreditation and "STARetailer" schemes.
The latest list from Case shows the shops that received the most number of complaints over a three-month period from December to February this year.
The management cannot kick these black-sheep retailers out because Sim Lim Square is a multi-strata titled building.
This means that individuals own the shops, with some owners running their own shops and others leasing it out.
A salesman at one of the shamed retailers that had changed its signboard said in Mandarin that the shop did not change hands.
"It's still the same people and same business. (It's) just the sign and the shop name that's different. The boss is still the same."
When asked why the name and sign had changed, he simply shrugged. The man added that his boss was overseas on a buying trip and would be back only next month.
At another shamed retailer, a salesman said: "When I came back from leave (last month), it was already like that." Pointing at the new signboard, he added: "My boss put it up. You have to ask him why."
His boss did not answer our many calls.
While there's nothing wrong in changing signs, Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said that those who change their business names or addresses without registering with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority may be violating the law.
Even if the business names and signboards are changed, Case can still invite the owners for a voluntary compliance agreement (where the shop voluntarily agrees not to engage in the unfair practice) or take out an injunction against them - as long as ownership remains the same.
Mr Seah added: "We would like to urge the Sim Lim Square vendors named on the list not to engage in hide-and-seek tactics but to put in efforts to improve their service to avoid consumer complaints and keep their names out of the list."
Only go there if you are dead sure on what you want to get, what you are prepared to pay and the exact specs of the gadget you are getting. There are many bad reviews here on Tripadvisor but I still think that it is possible to get a good deal in Sim Lim.
One of the reasons why this place had degraded so much over the years is that there are many tourists visiting the building and looking for good deals. How they know about this obscure building in Singapore is beyond my imagination. But ill-prepared tourists make great targets for touts and cheats.
I suggest the following:
1. Do extensive research on the product that you want to get. This includes the product serial number/code, year of manufacture, place of manufacture, exact specs etc. Always ask as many questions about the product as possible. If you do not get good service from the staff - walk away. If there is a discrepancy in the specs, place/year of manufacture - walk away.
2. Know the going rate for the product you are getting so you know that you are getting a good deal. You can get a general idea by visiting the established electronic joints such as Best Denki or you can go online. Be happy if its is lower than the normal retail price BUT be suspicious if it is too much lower than the retail price (fake goods are not difficult to acquire). Enquire the details of what you are paying for - whether it includes additional charges, taxes, warranty fee, misc fee etc. In Singapore, there is Goods and Service Tax (GST) of 7%, which can be refunded if you are a foreigner. Be wary of any other "weird" taxes.
3. Do not feel pressurised to buy, even after asking tons of questions. The customer is ALWAYS right. Do not argue with the vendors/promoters/touts. If they turn rough, call for help. The number for police in Singapore is 999, not 911.
4. The price of rental for the units in Sim Lim Square is structured such that low floor units need to pay significantly higher rent. By virtue of that, ground floor or low floor units are not able to give you a better price compared to the upper floors. You can start your window-shopping at the top floors and work your way down. Of course, if what you are getting is only available at the lower floor units, you have not much choice. However, I tend to get a much better price for the same product at the upper floors.
5. If you do end up with a bad deal (rip-off, flawed/fake products, physical/verbal abuse, fraud), you can lodge a police report or make a formal complaint with the consumer watch-dog, CASE.
My personal advice to vistors is to stay away from Sim Lim Square. It is just not worth the time and effort. Best of luck if you are still keen to go!
2. Haggle and bargain with you to establish his honesty or gain your trust in his service depending if you are local or tourist... and psychology they are trying to discourage you from double checking price with other store...
3. They will try to ask you for nominal deposit [even $20] to trap your commitment...Never give if you are wise!
4. Once your interest is shown, they will try to show you alternative model with negative comment of your choice or EVEN their own recommended product which has got you initially interested....Here is where their scam started...watch out!..If you have not paid deposit, use this as an excuse you are having second thought or the new product is out of your budget after their presentation...and just walk out...
5. If they do demo their newly recommended product, the best features will be quickly configured without or when you're not observing with exceptional features setting compare to the earlier or your preferred product to sway or entice you to his recommendation..Typical trick is to set camera or camcorder with different macro/close shot feature for fine print or resolution effect to be displayed on a monitor for your comparison.... [Tips: to get out of this situation, I will try to counter offer willing to purchase 2 or more unit with excuse getting this as gift for several friends BUT with much cheaper price discount per unit to make them back off.]
6. If you feel coerced, you may like to resort to conduct a on the spot product search with your smart phone through popular sites such as eBay, hardwarezone or google for latest price...subtly just to let them know you are going to know the market quote and actual product launched or info etc before you decide further on their offer...
7. When they show your choice product, make sure check the warranty card that is issued by the manufacture or appointed authorized distributors....some of the product offered are from parallel importers or obsolete product....
8. Double check the attached product manual to verify the enclosed accessories on your intent purchase....some of these unscrupulous retailers may replaced the parts with cheap alternative...
9. Always asked for new unit and to test the product on the spot before you give them your money to complete the purchase....ask for 1) official receipt, 2) ensure warranty card is endorsed, 3) read the fine print on faulty good return/exchange and never sign with any contentious clauses that is non standard.
10. Strongly advise that you do not patronize shops on the ground, 1st and 2nd floor until you've done your research, try to use your smart phone for instantaneous research if you're there...and do remember they may have other unit above 3rd floor...
11. If you are prepared to go through the above process wisely, I reckon you will enjoy your shopping there and able to engage them on their hard sell and hostile tactics... If not, you are asking for your own trouble....Good luck.
In short, it happened when I was trying to buy Ipad and they charged me $2000 for it, which is way overpriced (obviously a scam). When I refused to buy, 4 of them with gang tattoos stood up and started beating me. I have filed a police report that day, but so far nothing is done by the police.
I am utterly disappointed in Singaporean's police department. I am here now to tell you guys to beware of shopping in Sim Lim. As it turns out, there are 250+ scams filed per year in Sim Lim. Avoid it completely if you can.
Reviewed 29 May 2012
I should know better: I live in Singapore for 3 years now and clearly I missed the fact that Sim Lim Square is a place to avoid at all cost! There are 2 main places in Singapore to shop for computers and electronics: Funan and Sim Lim Square. Funan is a very decent place for foreigner and though I read that Sim Lim Square got better, it is in fact a rip off for foreigner and tourists.
Don't take me wrong, I've been living in Asia for 6 years now and I know that Asian are honest people with all. You just need to be careful with some shops.
Now my story is that I bought a camera and lens at a Sim Lim Square shop (#02-91 Camera Talk Pte. Ltd.) and I realized that the lens was not a good one, next day I return: answer goods are not returnable or exchangeable... well what can you do: in Singapore pretty much nothing... I would have gone to Funan, I know my experience would have been better.
So basically, even if you read ok reviews about Sim Lim Square: don't believe them. I think this place will not be cleaned of its questionable sales practices for years if ever... Prefer Funan...
Stomp, April 12, 2012 (source)
Cyber Maestro, #02-77 Sim Lim Square
STOMPer einnor warns others against this shop in Sim Lim that charged her friend for 'software installation' without her friend's knowledge. When confronted, the shop owner smugly asked the friend to get a lawyer to sue him.
"Recently, my classmate from China bought 2 Nokia 302 phones from a shop in Sim Lim for 560 SGD.
"The shop told my friend that the phones require a software to work when my friend brings them back to China.
"The owner didn't tell my friend how much the 'software installation' was, so my friend thought that it was free as she is using the phones in China, and so she agreed to the installation.
"In the end, the bill came up to $1410.
"This is obviously a cheating case. And when my friend asked for a refund, the owner said no and proudly asked my friend to find a lawyer and sue him."
Then again, of course I knew that it was my fault that I wanted to find cheap deals, but it's just so dumb that i was made to pay that extra 200 bucks for nothing! And the salesperson lied that the phone will not work if he did not programme it for me.
I just want to warn people so they don't get scammed like I did.
"I had just returned from a shop in Sim Lim Square called Dream 2 Mobile (#02-59) after purchasing a PS Vita.
"I asked for a quotation and they said $398 so I decided to get it there. That was obviously the price before taxes. The actual price is $434. Fair enough, I paid.
"Then the person asked me whether I'd like them to register the warranty for me. I agreed. After about 25 minutes later the guy returned with another invoice of $227: $99 for extended 12mth warranty -- god knows if it's true; $39.90 registration and a whopping $85.50 for service charge.
"I flared up when I realised that I wasn't informed of this charge before hand, and because the warranty is tagged to my name and NRIC I could not refuse payment.
"Plus they were holding on to the Vita. He wrote me a receipt of a grand total of $661 and purposely left the breakdown blank.
"When I asked them to fill it in for me they outright refused and I only managed to get the info for the second invoice after forcefully insisting.
"$85.50 service charge? Huh? Yes I'll go to CASE."
Many more tales of Sim Lim Square scams:
* Blog exposing Sim Lim Square scammers: here
* Trip advisor: here
* Sim Lim Square is a den of scammers: here
Sim Lim Square scam reports (source)
The worst shopping centre in Singapore? (here)
Is Lucky Plaza the next Sim Lim? (here)
Reviews of Sim Lim Square at Yahoo! Travel (here)