Singapore Parliament House

Singapore Parliament House

Remember the debacle over the incident where a Vietnamese tourist was scammed at a mobile phone shop two years ago?

The Singapore government has amended the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) to make sure such errant retailers will face the strong arm of the law.

SPRING Singapore will be appointed as the administering agency for the amended CPFTA — which is expected to go into effect by end 2016 — and “will have investigative and enforcement powers to take timely actions against recalcitrant retailers.”

These “powers” include gathering evidence; filing of injunction applications with the courts; and enforcement of injunction orders issued by the courts.

The amended act will also allow the courts to order an errant retailer (entity or individual) to publicise that it is under injunction and notify SPRING of any changes to its entity and employment status.

Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) will still remain as the first point of contact for redress, but SPRING will step in when the errant retailer persists in its unfair trading practices.

Naturally, this act will be applied to retailers both offline and online. In a Channel NewsAsia report, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, however, acknowledged that it would be challenging to enforce these powers on cross-border online retailers.