The number of complaints against the electrical and electronic industry rose by 45 per cent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year.
About 40 per cent of the complaints were about defective or non-conforming goods, while 30 per cent were about firms failing to honour their contractual agreements.
The spike in complaints was attributed to disputes against a direct seller of alkaline water systems, Triple Lifestyle Marketing. CASE said it received 162 complaints about the company in the first half of this year.
“Consumers had complained that the company was either unresponsive to requests for service appointments or did not show up for scheduled appointments despite the company’s representations during the sales process that they would repair the water dispensers or water filtration systems if defects occurred,” said the consumer watchdog.
Mr Yong said that under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, if a defect is found within six months of delivery, it is assumed the defect existed at the time of delivery. Consumers are entitled to exchange the defective product even after the stated exchange period by the retailer, he added.
CASE also received 717 complaints against the beauty industry in the first six months of this year, a 14 per cent increase from last year.
About a quarter of the complaints against spas and beauty salons related to pressure sales tactics and misleading claims. Consumers reported that they were pressured to buy high price massage or beauty treatment packages, or were misled about the efficacy of products or services.
A total of 1,107 complaints were lodged in the first half of this year relating to online purchases, an increase from the 986 complaints in the same period last year. The increase can be attributed to a higher number of complaints against online marketplaces and food delivery platforms.
The most common types of e-commerce complaints include defective or non-conforming goods, failure of the seller to deliver the food item or product, and disputes over refunds, said CASE.
Consumers reported S$289,842 in prepayment losses in the first half of this year. The beauty as well as medical and medical consumables industries saw the greatest amount of prepayment losses in that period.
Mr Yong said: “Over the past two years, some businesses in the beauty and medical aesthetics industries have been adversely impacted by deteriorating economic conditions and declining consumer spend, and were forced to close.
“As a result, consumers with prepaid packages lost some or all of their prepayments. CASE is concerned about this issue, as it can be difficult for consumers to recover their monies once a business goes insolvent.
“To better protect consumers against prepayment losses, CASE has called on the Government to mandate prepayment protection in industries where consumers tend to make large sums of payment upfront.”