Sim Lim Square
|Location||Rochor Canal Road, Rochor Planning Area, Singapore|
|No. of stores and services||150|
|No. of floors||6 with 2 basements|
|Website||Sim Lim Square|
Sim Lim Square (Chinese: 森林商业中心), commonly referred to as SLS, is a large retail complex that offers a wide variety of electronic goods and services ranging from DVDs, cameras, phones, video cameras, and computer parts and servicing.
Located at 1 Rochor Canal Road, Singapore, SLS is opposite to historic features such as the Little India district and close to one of the earliest HDB developments. SLS is accessible via MRT at Bugis or Little India.
Sim Lim City also known as Sim Lim Square is located near to Bugis village in central Singapore. The complex itself is a six level building with a range of many varied electronic supply and service shops. The centre operates away from the main shopping areas of Singapore and as such can be seen as an area for bargains to be gained with cheap and inexpensive goods. Examples of this can include phones, laptops, computer parts, cameras and other electronic devices.
Many shops, particularly those on lower levels selling games, cameras and mobiles, in Sim Lim Square resort to scam tactics to reap higher profits. Unwary shoppers might fall into the traps of unscrupulous sellers.
No pricetag scam
Products without a pricetag are subjected to varying quotes from the seller. The seller will judge how the buyer approaches them before quoting a price - usually higher than stores displaying pricetags. Sellers will also try to convince the buyer after a bargaining session that the price they offer are the best by making the conversation seem secretive.
Goods and Services Tax (GST) scam
GST scams come in many layers and targeting mainly tourists who have bare understanding of Singapore taxation system.
In this scam, sellers would first quote potential buyers a price and then just before the buyer makes the payment they'd 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.
More unscrupulous shops will miscalculate the amount of GST that the customers need to pay. The customers who are not careful will find themselves paying more than 7% for GST which may or may not be legitimate.
When this scam is employed on tourists, the seller will normally tell buyer that they can claim their GST back at the Changi Airport, Harbour Front or even Checkpoint. Since most of the seller will not provide valid receipt nor the GST itself is legitimate, the customers could not claim their refund.
GST registration is not mandatory for all shops in Singapore; GST registration is only mandatory if the turnover of a business entity exceeds S$1m annually. A proper GST registered retailer is also required to quote prices inclusive of GST during a sale and at the same reflect their GST registration number prominently on the sales invoices along with the exact amount of GST paid.
Missing component scam
In this scam, the seller would quote the buyer a price that seemed either unbelievably cheap or very reasonable. After the buyer makes the purchase, the seller would then ask the buyer if he/she would like to purchase an accessory that would otherwise have been bundled with the product.
For example, if a buyer is making a purchase for an Apple iPod, a seller using this tactic may inform the buyer after a purchase transaction that they'd have to buy the USB data cable. Without the data cable, the buyer can neither charge nor sync the iPod and is thus forced to make the purchase.
Many stores are also selling counterfeit copies of the popular Apple iPod music players. They have the same packaging, material, shape and even colour choices. But what's inside of these Chinese "MP4" players are nothing like a real iPod.
Note that SLS shops usually do not allow the buyer to test a brand new unit (i.e. open the packaging) unless they commit to buy it regardless whether it is counterfeit or otherwise.
Also, unlike large stores like Harvey Norman, most SLS stores do not have a refund policy. In fact, it is almost impossible for these small shops to honour a refund policy due to the way their business operates with cash stock. So before making payment, buyers should insist that they test the product. If it's a product that can't be tested (such as RAM or hard drive), make very sure that it's covered by a manufacturer's warranty, not the store's own warranty!
In this scam, the seller would convince the buyer to purchase something that he/she would later find to be unsatisfactory (e.g. faulty) and then offer the buyer a top-up for a pricier product.
In some cases, the sellers often perform certain services that may or may not be necessary at price that is not specified until the customer wish to pay. Services such as registering a warranty, unlocking a phone (which should not be legitimate since all phone in Singapore is unlocked), charging a credit card fee or pasting screen protector often charged at the point of payment.
When this scam is employed, the sellers often combined the entire purchase without giving any breakdown in writing (e.g. receipt) making it harder for the customers to argue their cases.
When customers wish to cancel the purchase, the sellers often resort to threatening the customers with 'cancellation fee', 'credit card fee' and so on. In some instances, it is common for the sellers to threaten customer by surrounding them with fierce looking colleagues.
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 doesn't 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.
Another variation is the seller tries to lure the buyer into his shop by quoting a low price for items that buyer wants. When seller and buyer further negotiate, the seller portrays the item that buyer wants to be a lousy products and start promoting another item which buyer is not familiar with at high price. During this process, some shop used ‘tweaked’ equipment or lemon copy of intended item to further convince the buyer to buy seller's supposedly superior recommendation. If the buyer keep insisting buying the item he wants initially, the seller will resort to other scam tactics or simply declare 'Out of Stock'.
There are many varieties in warranty related scam. For example, during purchase negotiation, the seller will try to give vague impression that the item is covered by a manufacturer's warranty. Upon completing the purchase, sooner or later, the seller will reveal that the item is a grey set with no official warranty and deny any previous negotiation. In many cases, the shop will pacify the customers with assurance of a superficial shop warranty which, as you might have realized, is next to worthless for most customers - assuming the warranty is even honoured in the first place.
In addition, the sellers often hard sell or 'automatically' charge the customer for a third party warranty service or shop warranty at exorbitant cost. This is often done after they are pretty sure you are going to buy the item or have bought the item. Normally the shop owner will 'request' and subsequently 'hold on' customer's important document (e.g. passport) to help customer register their warranty (some shop will charge the customer for this 'registration' process as well) while the customer complete their purchase by cash, credit card or other means.
Redress for scam victims
Scam victims may seek redress through the Sim Lim Square management (who certifies honest retailers through its Star Retailer program), CASE (Consumer Association of Singapore) or the Small Claims Court.
- "Blog on Sim Lim Square scams". May 23, 2012.
- "I'm not visiting Sim Lim Square ever again". December 9, 2008.
- "Sim Lim Square and Lucky Plaza: Bargain heaven or rip-off joint?". May 26, 2010.
- "Microsoft Warns of High-end Pirated Software Retail Outlets". May 12, 2008.