3. Get CASE’s help with mediation
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that helps to mediate between customers and businesses.
You must pay membership and administrative fees to engage CASE to negotiate on your behalf, unless you belong to a union or organisation that is already a member.
The complaint can be submitted online, and you will need supporting documents like receipts, credit card statements and any contract that was signed.
CASE can warn the errant business or enter into a voluntary compliance agreement with them, where the business agrees in writing to stop the unfair practice and in some cases, compensate affected customers, said Ms Elsa Chen, partner at Allen & Gledhill.
This can serve as a starting point, but there are constraints as CASE cannot compel businesses to participate, said Rajah and Tann partner Mr Tan.
4. Take legal action at the Small Claims Tribunal
If the amount being claimed is below S$20,000, you can file it at the Small Claims Tribunals of the State Courts. This is meant to resolve claims more quickly and less expensively than a civil trial.
The claim must be filed within two years of the facts causing your legal action.
The court can arrive at different outcomes, including ordering the business to pay the customer a sum of money by a due date, or to make good any deficiency in the goods or services.
If the business does not comply with the order, the customer can start execution or enforcement proceedings.
“Enforcing an order does not guarantee an outcome. You should weigh the pros and cons before proceeding,” advises the Singapore Courts website.
5. Take legal action under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act
If the business has engaged in unfair practices, the customer may have a claim under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.
A clear example is if the retailer had sold the prepaid package when it knew or ought to know that it would not be able to supply the goods or services, said Mr Daren Shiau, partner at Allen & Gledhill.
In such cases, the customer can start an action in the court under the Act if the claim amount does not exceed S$30,000, he added.
This claim can also be filed at the Small Claims Tribunal, said Mr Tan.