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Complaints against renovation contractors in first half of 2022 up 28% from last year: Consumer watchdog

SINGAPORE — Renovation contractors drew the highest number of complaints from consumers in the first half of the year, compared with other businesses, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said in a release on Thursday (July 28).

Consumers lost a total of around S$57,940 in prepayment losses due to the sudden closure of renovation firms that they had hired to do work.
Consumers lost a total of around S$57,940 in prepayment losses due to the sudden closure of renovation firms that they had hired to do work.

Singapore

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  • The renovation industry received 807 complaints in the first half of 2022, a 28 per cent rise over the same period a year before
  • The Consumers Association of Singapore attributed this to the manpower and raw material shortage caused by Covid-19
  • Renovation contractors received the most complaints from consumers, and the electrical and electronics industry came in second

SINGAPORE — Renovation contractors drew the highest number of complaints from consumers in the first half of the year, compared with other businesses, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said in a release on Thursday (July 28).

The consumer watchdog recorded a total of 807 complaints against home renovation contractors, a 28 per cent rise over the 627 complaints received for the same sector in the first half of last year.

The complaints were over issues including failure to complete projects on schedule and unsatisfactory workmanship, Case said.

The total number of consumer complaints filed rose from 7,260 in the first half of last year to 7,960 in the same period this year.

“About 66 per cent of the complaints pertain to renovation contractors failing to complete projects on schedule and unsatisfactory workmanship,” Case said, adding that complainants claimed that delays in project completion ranged from two to seven months.

The consumer watchdog also said that people who hired contractors lost a total of around S$57,940 in prepayment losses due to the sudden closure of the renovation firms involved.

To manage consumers’ expectations and to avoid unnecessary disputes, renovation contractors who are facing challenges in completing projects on schedule should communicate expectations, timelines and changes honestly with consumers.
Mr Melvin Yong, president of the Consumers Association of Singapore

Mr Melvin Yong, president of Case, said: “Consumers typically spend significant sums of money on home renovation projects. They expect the project to be completed on time and to a satisfactory standard.

“To manage consumers’ expectations and to avoid unnecessary disputes, renovation contractors who are facing challenges in completing projects on schedule should communicate expectations, timelines and changes honestly with consumers.”

He also advised consumers to avoid making large upfront prepayments. They should instead be making payments progressively as each stage of the renovation work is completed.

Consumers are encouraged to engage CaseTrust-accredited renovation contractors who commit to cost transparency and accountability for listed project deliverables.

“In the event of sudden business closure, consumers’ deposits are safeguarded via a deposit performance bond,” Mr Yong added.

Last year in the first six months, consumer complaints against renovation contractors saw a jump and the key reasons given were manpower and raw material shortage caused by Covid-19.

Case said on Thursday: “The failure of renovation contractors to complete projects on schedule can be largely attributed to manpower shortage and delays in the shipment of renovation materials caused by global supply chain disruptions.

“Case also observed that some renovation firms ran into financial difficulty or became insolvent, and were unable to complete renovation projects despite collecting consumers’ deposits upfront.”

ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC GOODS AND SERVICES

Other industries also saw an increase in consumer complaints, with the electrical and electronics industry seeing complaints increase by 45 per cent over the same period last year from 536 complaints to 786.

Case said that around four in 10 of the complaints related to defective or non-conforming goods, while 30 per cent of the complaints were due to businesses failing to honour their contractual agreements.

A significant portion of the 786 complaints received arose from disputes against an alkaline water systems merchant.

Case received 162 complaints against the company, with consumers complaining that the company was either unresponsive to requests for service appointments or did not show up for scheduled appointments despite promises that they would do so.

BEAUTY SERVICES

Case also saw an increase in complaints against the beauty industry, receiving 717 complaints against spas and beauty salons for the first half of this year, compared with 627 complaints received in the same period last year.

Around a quarter of such complaints related to pressure-selling and misleading claims, while another 25 per cent were on businesses being unable to fulfil their contractual obligations.

E-COMMERCE SITES

There were 1,107 complaints relating to online purchases for the first half of this year, compared with 986 complaints received in the same period last year., Case said.

Most of the complaints were either over defective or non-conforming goods, delivery issues and disputes over refunds, and it attributed the increase to a higher number of complaints against e-marketplaces and food delivery platforms.

Mr Yong said: “We are also developing a new CaseTrust accreditation scheme for e-businesses, which will serve as an industry benchmark for e-businesses in Singapore that are committed to fair and transparent business practices.”

Related topics

Case complaints renovation consumer beauty online shopping

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