SINGAPORE: 21—year—old Kenrick Ho is S$6,000 poorer after an online purchase gone wrong.
He had ordered 10 mobile phone sets from an eBay seller named Ms Siah, in September 2012.
But after making full payment, no goods were delivered.
"(I am) very depressed and stressed because I can do a lot with S$6,000," he lamented. "What if I need the money urgently? The seller said she’d refund the money, but she kept delaying it."
Like Mr Ho, 46—year—old Madam Teo Kim Sang ordered three mobile phone sets and paid Ms Siah S$1,500 in October.
After much hassle, Madam Teo managed to get a refund of S$750, two weeks after she made full payment.
She said: "If today is Saturday, she’ll say ’(On) Friday I’ll update you, whether I get the phone, whether I deliver, all these things’ and sometimes she’ll say ’(On) Friday I’ll deliver (the phones)’ but when Friday comes, nothing (arrives)."
The relief teacher has since cancelled her order.
Both Mr Ho and Madam Teo said they will lodge a report with the Small Claims Tribunal next week.
Separately, calls from Channel NewsAsia to Ms Siah went unanswered.
According to the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), there were 228 reports of "failure—to—honour" transactions between January and November this year.
Of these, CASE handled and assisted 48 of the reports. Of those that CASE handled, about half were resolved.
Experts say it is more difficult for buyers to recover their money as there is no physical shopfront.
"The practices of the online vendors or online businesses are covered by the Consumers Protection Fair Trading Act and consumers can exercise their right under the Act to file a claim at the Small Claims Tribunal," said Seah Seng Choon, executive director of CASE.
"Secondly, if the consumer suspects foul play or cheating in any way, they should file a complaint with the police. They should ensure that the business is set up in Singapore. For businesses that are set up overseas, consumer would have great difficulty seeking redress if there’s any dispute later on."
With more people going online to make their purchases, Mr Seah said it is important to read the terms and conditions of the transaction so as to avoid pitfalls of online shopping.
He added that shoppers who purchase items online has the right under the lemon law to request the businesses to repair, refund or even reduce prices if there are defects on the goods.
Another way to avoid problems in transactions is to go for cash—on—delivery deals.
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