How it works:
- Situation: these scams have been going on for decades with locals scammed too.
- Case in 2014: things came to a head when a Vietnamese tourist had to kneel and beg for a refund. He was mercilessly mocked by the shop staff and it became a national scandal.
- Version 1 (warranty scam): high value electronics are advertised at cheap prices. Staff shows you a contract but covers up a clause about paying thousands for warranty. Most do not realize, as they trust the Singapore brand, may not be good at English, or do not bother with the terms and conditions. After you pay however, staff will hold on to your item. They now explain the clause and will not hand the item over until you pay for warranty.
- Version 2 (product swap): after you pay, vendor swaps your authentic camera battery/memory stick with an imitation. It is given to you in a sealed box hoping you do not check.
Places to beware:
- Bugis: Sim Lim Square
- Chinatown: People’s Park Complex, shops in the area
- Orchard: Lucky Plaza
What to do:
- If a price is too good to be true, it probably is.
- Visit reputable shops or big chains (e.g. Challenger, Courts, Harvey Norman).
- If caught in such a scam, consult the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) or the police.