Training, CTV for Sim Lim Square

Sim Lim Square, Singapore’s notorious electronics mall where foreign tourists have been ripped off in dodgy mobile phone deals, seems to have turned a corner.

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) says it has received only 12 complaints against the mall’s electronics retailers in the first four months of this year – about one third the number it fielded during the same period last year.

Last November the mall received global news and social media exposure after a Vietnamese tourist was left in tears after spending his life savings to buy his girlfriend an iPhone – which with an unnecessary ‘warranty’ fee he was required to pay ended up costing him three times the price of the same phone in Ho Chi Minh City.

That retailer shut up shop and abandoned the mall – along with several others ‘outed’ by Case and local news media for similar unconscionable conduct and since then the mall’s management has worked hard to improve its reputation.

At the core of the improvement is an accreditation program recognising reliable and trustworthy retailers. To gain accreditation, tenants will have to attend a subsidised training program run by Nanyang Polytechnic’s Singapore Institute of Retail Studies. The training will give staff skills in dealing with customers as well as finer points of consumer laws.

That follows news of the introduction of CCTV cameras and recording devices in front of shops subject to three or more complaints to Case or the Singapore Tourism Board, along with stickers warning would-be customers to be wary of the stores.

A mall management spokesman told The Straits Times newspaper: “Our council members suggested this and it got unanimous approval during our annual meeting last month.”

Case president Lim Biow Chuan, Central Singapore District mayor Denise Phua and Singapore trade and industry minister Teo Ser Luck met at Sim Lim Square on Friday for a walkabout of the centre and discussions with mall management about progress on cleaning up the centre’s image.

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