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Complaints against renovation contractors almost double in first half of 2021: Consumer watchdog

SINGAPORE — Complaints against the renovation contractors have nearly doubled for the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year, making it the second most complained about industry.

Complaints against renovation contractors almost double in first half of 2021: Consumer watchdog

The renovation industry received 621 complaints in the first six months of this year — close to double the 312 complaints in the same period last year.

  • The renovation industry received 621 complaints in the first six months of this year — close to double the 312 complaints in same period last year 
  • The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) attributed this to the manpower crunch and raw material shortage caused by Covid-19 
  • The beauty industry received the most complaints from consumers while renovation contractors came in second
  • The total number of complaints against businesses fell by close to 20 per cent 
  • Case advised consumers to avoid making large prepayments due to the uncertain economic outlook

 

SINGAPORE — Complaints against the renovation contractors have nearly doubled for the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year, making it the second most complained about industry. 

Singapore’s consumer watchdog, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), received 621 complaints in the first six months of this year against such contractors, up from 312 complaints in the first half of 2020.  

Case, which released this data on Friday (Aug 6), said that this was likely due to the prolonged shortage in manpower and raw materials arising from the Covid-19 crisis. 

Topping the list with the most number of complaints during this period — 627 — was the beauty industry.   

In comparison, the two worst industries last year were the travel and medical and medical consumables industries, which received 1,138 and 1,046 complaints respectively.

Case said that the total number of complaints received during this period fell by almost 20 per cent. 

Between January and June this year, there were 7,260 complaints against 51 industries, down from 9,013 complaints in the same period last year. 

Case’s president, Mr Melvin Yong, said in a press release that there are early signs that the type, nature and volume of consumer complaints are reverting to pre-2020 levels.

Mr Yong, who is also Member of Parliament for Radin Mas Single Member Constituency, said that consumers should avoid making large prepayments to businesses given the uncertain economic outlook and that there may be business disruptions or sudden business closures.  

Here is a snapshot of some of the industries highlighted by Case:

BEAUTY SERVICES

Consumers filed the most number of complaints against the beauty industry in the first half of this year. There were 627 complaints filed, a 22 per cent increase from the same period last year.

Case pointed out that the first half of last year included the circuit breaker period, which was imposed between April 7 and June 1 and saw restrictions on non-essential activities such as beauty services.

It said that approximately a quarter of the complaints were related to consumers being unsatisfied with services rendered by spas and beauty salons, with another quarter of the complaints relating to unfair practices such as aggressive sales tactics. 

Case did not state what the remaining complaints were about.  

RENOVATION CONTRACTORS

Of the 621 complaints filed against this industry, Case said close to half (48 per cent) pertained to consumers being unsatisfied with the quality of the renovation services rendered.

About one-third of the complaints were related to contractors failing to complete projects on schedule or according to agreed project milestones, or both.

It recognised that some of these complaints could have resulted from the manpower crunch and raw material shortage caused by the pandemic.

Case said consumers should avoid making large deposits and to negotiate for progressive payments to be made as each stage of the renovation work is completed.

It also advised consumers to patronise CaseTrust accredited renovation contractors, as they are required to protect consumers’ deposits and have in place dispute resolution mechanisms.  

E-COMMERCE SITES

Case said it received 986 complaints related to online purchases for the first half of this year, a significant drop from the 2,369 complaints over the same period last year.

It said most of the complaints were either delivery related, or involved receiving defective or non-conforming goods. 

Case said consumers should check the track record of their online retailers, as well as any customer reviews, before they make a purchase. 

If a retailer refuses to attend to an issue, such as missing or defective items, despite being contacted, Case advises consumers to file a chargeback request with their credit card issuing bank within 120 days of their purchase.

TRAVEL AND AIRLINES

The current Covid-19 travel restrictions have likely led to the stark decline in complaints against the travel industry, which received the most complaints in the first half of 2020, said Case. 

There were 406 complaints filed in the first half of this year, down 64 per cent from 1,138 complaints for the same period this year.

Similarly, the airline industry saw complaints fall by 73 per cent from 475 to 129. 

Case said the complaints received against the travel and airlines industries for the first half of this year pertained to instances where the consumers and businesses had previously agreed to a refund in-kind — such as credits or vouchers — or a rescheduling of travel plans, but consumers later asked for a monetary refund due to the global uncertainty in travel.

MEDICAL AND MEDICAL CONSUMABLES

Case said this sector saw complaints falling sharply from 1,046 in the first half of last year to 263 for the same period this year. 

The watchdog noted that the supply and prices of medical consumables — such as surgical masks and hand sanitisers — have stabilised in the past year, and thus there have been fewer complaints against retailers for profiteering.

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