Singtel has allegedly sanctioned one of their retailers, Novel Communications, for victimising an elderly woman when she went to the latter’s Yishun Northpoint branch for her recontract.
According to a Facebook post by a concerned netizen, the scam reportedly happened at Novel Communications’ North Point Outlet in Yishun. The person scammed was the netizen’s mother, Lim Sok Cher.
iPhone X 64GB “traded in” for a Samsung J3 Pro
The post said that the victim came home with a Samsung J3 Pro and asked her daughter, Yeo Hui Ting, to help her set up the phone. Lim was visibly very happy with the new phone because the recontract price was only $48.
Yeo helped her mother download apps and set up the phone but she noticed that it was very slow compared to her mother’s previous phone, a Samsung Note 4. She wondered why her mother, who has an eye problem, would go for such a small phone with low specs after her previous phone.
She asked to look at the contract her mother was given.
Upon seeing the contract, Yeo noticed that the amounts tallied on the sheet didn’t make sense. Here’s what she found, as stated on her Facebook post:
1️⃣ The first page shows the Invoice by Novel Communication for the sale of the Samsung J3 Pro. Unit Price $198, Amount $48, Subtotal $1,346. How come the amount doesn’t tally?
2️⃣ I flipped over and saw the Trade-in Form with a cashback amount of $198. I asked mum if she traded in any phone, she said no. Then how come there’s a cashback? Mum said she didn’t receive any cashback from them too! What is happening?
3️⃣ The next page shows the Singtel recontract details… with a written note on the side saying “Customer agree to trade back Apple iPhone X 64GB”. AM I SEEING THINGS? APPLE IPHONE X 64GB? WHY IS A SAUMSUNG J3 PRO ON MY HAND AND NOT THE IPHONE X?
According to the sheet, her mother was entitled to a cashback if she traded in a unit. But her mother said she did not trade in any unit! She also did not receive a cashback.
Another anomaly was that the customer allegedly agreed to trade back an Apple iPhone X 64GB but there was no iPhone with her mother and no iPhone was mentioned during the transaction.
Confrontation with Novel Communications
Yeo and her mother, Lim, went back to Yishun to confront the shop. Upon getting there, she asked why there was any mention of an iPhone on the contract and why her mother only got the Samsung J3 Pro.
The shop manager named Wai Keong allegedly said that her mother wanted a cheap or free phone for her recontract. Since a Samsung J3 Pro isn’t offered officially by Singtel, they allowed her to get the phone she allegedly wanted but they had to mention what phone she would use on the contract.
They wrote down that she wanted an iPhone X 64GB but traded that in with Novel Communications to get a J3 Pro that she still paid $48 for.
According to the shop manager, this is allegedly something that usually happens and is quite all right with Singtel.
What Novel Communications Yishun did
Yeo did not accept their explanation and clearly saw that they allegedly used her mother to get an iPhone X from Singtel. She said she wanted to return the Samsung J3 Pro and void the recontract.
Wai agreed to do so, and returned the cashback voucher and the $48. They did not refund the other fees that were paid during the recontract because these are non-refundable.
What this scam means
Essentially, Novel Communications Yishun Northpoint allegedly uses recontracts coursed through them to purchase an iPhone X, which has a market value of roughly $1500, for only $950.
Using gullible elderly customers, they allegedly push cheaper phones (but never the free phone during recontract) that have a small purchase amount and get the cashback voucher entitled to the customer.
When they reportedly bring the recontract forms to Singtel, they say that the customer wanted to trade an iPhone X back for a different phone, so they’re owed an iPhone X as long as they pay $950, which is lower than its market value.
Yeo also mentioned that she was hearing the same sales pitch to a different customer during her confrontation with the manager.
Novel Communications responds to viral scam post
In a statement on Facebook, Novel Communications says, “We apologise to Ms Yeo for the confusion and inconvenience caused by our inexperienced salesperson who attended to her mother, Mdm Lim, when she recently visited our shop to re-contract her mobile plan. During the transaction, our salesperson did not provide clear explanation to Mdm Lim and made mistakes on the invoice. We are sorry that our staff did not follow our standard operating procedures to help the customer and have taken corrective action.”
No such apology or explanation was given when Yeo went to their store, as the manager even gave her a reason that it’s what they usually do and Singtel is aware of this practice, and that they provide all the documentation to the company.
A concerned netizen has tagged Singtel in a separate Facebook post, notifying them of this. Singtel has responded that they are aware of this practice and that they are looking into the matter.
In a reply on Yeo’s post, Singtel said that they have found lapses in how Novel Communications handled the transaction and will take immediate disciplinary action against the latter.
What do you think of this business practice in Yishun? Let us know in the comments!