It seems that the troubles that foreign workers and foreigners living in Singapore experience when they buy from errant retailers in reputation-marred malls like Sim Lim Square and Lucky Plaza aren’t stopping anytime soon, thanks in part to EZ Advance Trading Enterprises.
Even if the case of Jover Chew gripped the nation and made a lot of us feel that justice was served, it doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to this one tenant at Lucky Plaza from trying some sort of “Jover-Chew-type” scam.
In our previous report, we told the story of a Filipina domestic worker who had paid $145 for a tempered glass protector from a shop in the complex called EZ Advance Trading Enterprises.
According to the domestic helper’s employer, though, the former was allegedly cheated since the quality of the screen protector did not match the price and that she was unaware that it cost that much until it was too late.
She was also allegedly pressured to buy it at that price.
Other people have also allegedly been victimised by this store, as someone had posted a review five years ago on TripAdvisor about the same store in Lucky Plaza.
Jover Chew was not the first, but he was the one brought to justice
Possibly the most notorious case of store owners bullying foreign workers with questionable practices is the case of Jover Chew, a business man who owned a stall at Sim Lim Square and took a video of a Vietnamese worker begging to return a phone to get a refund.
Jover ran a shop called Mobile Air in Sim Lim Square.
In a report by Channel News Asia, the Singapore court found him and a number of his employees guilty of several counts of cheating and other offences pertaining to their business practices.
In the end, he was sentenced to 33 months in jail for cheating 26 customers over the period of ten months. He cheated them out of $16,599 and was required to pay $2000 aside from the jail time.
What do Jover Chew and EZ Advance Trading have in common?
Location and products
Easily, you can see that Mobile Air and EZ Advance Trading are both located in niche, older shopping malls which are frequented more by tourists and foreigners. Singaporeans will generally shun these malls because of their bad reputation caused by a few errant tenants. They also sell the same kinds of products – mobile phones and accessories.
Manner of treating customers
While EZ Trading can only be said to have sold a tempered glass screen protector for $145, Jover Chew was guilty of so much more. Most shocking of them all was the way he bullied a Vietnamese customer with a video he uploaded to YouTube while the latter was pleading to return an item that was in the end too costly for him to afford and continue with usual living expenses.
Jover could be called cruel, because with another victim, he refunded the person with a bag of coins that he purposely spilled on the ground, which the customer was forced to pick up off the floor.
If the Facebook post by the helper’s employer is proven true, EZ Advance Trading allegedly bullied the helper into paying $145 on the invoice.
Note that the allegations against EZ Advance Trading have not been substantiated as illegal while Jover and his colleagues have been proven guilty, arrested, charged in court and sentenced to jail terms.
So where to shop for electronics?
Whether the former is guilty of shady business practices or not, the frequency of such reports from malls like Sim Lim Square and Lucky Plaza stores is concerning. Despite the discounts and cheaper prices that most stores there promise, the possibility of a scam is too high. Our advice is not to go shop at these places unless you are an expert price haggler and negotiator.
A better place to look for digital devices, accessories and the like would be Mustafa Centre. But this location has fixed prices (you cannot haggle). Most electronics have fixed prices in Singapore and are generally price controlled anyway.
What do you think of this matter? Let us know in the comments!
Header image from Jover Chew Facebook and Denise Han Facebook accounts