SG Vehicles ordered by court to stop unfair trading practices: CCCS

FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore

SINGAPORE — The SG Vehicles group of companies (SG Vehicles) and its director have been ordered by the State Courts to stop engaging in unfair trade practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA), said Singapore’s competition watchdog on Friday (April 19).

In a press release, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) said the court order is effective from Thursday (April 18).

It follows an injunction application filed by CCCS against SG Vehicles with the court in December 2017, after the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) received a total of 92 complaints against the car importer group from January 2015 to November 2017.

Consumers mainly complained of misrepresentations relating to the delivery dates of motor vehicles and the bidding for Certificates of Entitlement (COE), while some said they were required to make more payments due to a change in circumstances beyond their control, said CCCS.

In July 2017, CASE requested for SG Vehicles to sign a voluntary compliance agreement to stop engaging in unfair trade practices, but it declined to do so, the watchdog noted.

CCCS’ investigations into the complaints against SG Vehicles revealed evidence of unfair trade practices under the CPFTA, and SG Vehicles did not dispute them, the agency added.

In the court order, said the watchdog, SG Vehicles and its director, Juliet Tan Whye Peck are specifically prohibited from the following:

-engaging in unfair practices under the CPFTA

-doing or saying anything, or omitting to do or say anything if as a result a consumer might reasonably be deceived or misled into believing that the purchase price and/or COE is/far fixed or guaranteed

-making any false claim to a consumer as to any guaranteed delivery date of a motor vehicle

-taking advantage of a consumer if the supplier knows or ought reasonably to know that the consumer is not reasonably able to understand the character, nature, language or effect of the transaction or any matter related to the transaction.

The order also requires SG Vehicles to install a prominent sign outside their shopfronts stating the full text of the order for a period of six months from the order’s date and to notify CCCS of any changes related to their businesses.

CCCS noted that the order does not require SG Vehicles to cease business operations.

“SG Vehicles are not prohibited form carrying on their businesses, and all existing sales agreements they had made with their customers remain valid and legal binding and must be honoured,” CCCS said.

Industries with most consumer complaints

Meanwhile, the CCCS disclosed that while the motoring industry ranked as the top industry with the highest number of consumer complaints – 2,335 – received by CASE in 2017, it was overtaken by the beauty industry in 2018 when cases dropped by over 20% to 1,802 the following year.

CASE received 1,829 agains the beauty industry in 2018, a 31% increase from the previous year, mainly related to the loss of consumers’ prepayments due to abrupt business closures and aggressive sales tactics.

CCCS said it is “monitoring the beauty industry close”, and it is also investigating consumer complaints into other industries such as e-commerce, and food and beverage.