Singaporean Reddit user BanD4z1 posted on the Singaporean reddit board about his experience with the Singaporean Lemon Law, which supposedly protects consumers in Singapore from defective products. He had bought an electric fan with the PowerPac brand from EAMART, but his experience with the product wasn’t ideal. He bought the fan in December 2018 and it stopped working only four months later in April 2019. He went to return the fan to EAMART but was refused a replacement and instead asked to pay for the fan’s transportation so the shop could repair it.
EAMART said that they would not replace the fan, and instead said that he could take the fan to them for repairs, send it through a courier service which would cost $30, or find his own way to send the fan to and from the shop.
So he decided to claim his rights as a Singaporean consumer. He said that he would file a case with the Small Claims Tribunal, which he did. On the day of the trial, he said that no representative from EAMART arrived, and that he notified them that he would be filing a case. He said that he waited only fifteen minutes after his appointed time at court, and got a resolution on the same day.
The court said that he would receive compensations for the cost of the fan, cost of a new fan and $20 in disbursements which would roughly amount to $100. The court would then notify EAMART of its obligations to remit a money order to the reddit user within four weeks. When those four weeks are up, the customer would then have the right to “enforce the order.”
What this means is unclear, as the four-week deadline still isn’t up.
How to file a claim at the Small Claims Tribunal
The reddit user outlined his experience with the steps of filing a claim with the tribunal as well as how pleasant or unpleasant the whole thing was:
1) Filing my claim online.
They introduced an online system called CJTS in 2017. It was pleasantly easy and quick for me to do the online filing, with the entire process taking me perhaps 15 minutes. You have to pay a fee (credit card accepted) of either $10 (for claims up to $5,000) or $20 (up to $10,000).
(2) Effecting service.
This was perhaps the most annoying bit.
After filing your claim, the system will automatically generate a “Notice of Consultation – Respondent’s Copy” (in my case, the Respondent was EAMART). You have to print this Notice, then either (i) send it by Registered Mail to the Respondent; OR (ii) personally serve it to the Respondent (you’ve probably seen this done in American movies/TV).
You then also have to upload proof to CJTS that you either sent it by Registered Mail or that you personally served it to the Respondent.
I chose the first option (which meant going down to one of those god-awful Singapore Post Offices and waiting forever). For proof, I just had to upload the Registered Mail slip and payment receipt to CJTS.
(3) The actual court date.
The waiting time wasn’t too bad (especially when compared to most other institutions) — I got called to go see the Registrar just 15 minutes after my scheduled appointment time.
Also, the entire talk with the Registrar lasted less than 15 minutes. (And this was even including the time we spent discussing the toothlessness of the Lemon Law and what Singaporeans could do about it.)
What other things should you know about returning defective goods and enforcing the Lemon Law?
According to the reddit post, no Singaporean store or shop can refuse refunds or returns. Even if they posted such signs up on their store windows, going to court means you can force them to accept the return or refund if your case has been heard.
Complaining online about purchases can only shame the store, but if you want to get the Lemon Law to work for you, you have to start the proceedings yourself.