Do more to protect consumers from firms that cheat

I felt a sense of discontent after reading the report ("Police probe closure of salon chain"; Sept 25). Why are there so many of such incidents in Singapore?

We have read many reports of gyms, yoga centres and travel agencies closing suddenly.

All this points to a lack of laws which protect the consumer.

It seems that it is not very difficult to set up a business with the intention of absconding after a few months.

Recently, my son and daughter-in-law were fleeced by a renovation contractor.

After agreeing to the quotation price and work details, they paid a five-figure amount as deposit.

Not long after, the contractor became uncontactable. Subsequently, they found four other victims who had each lost a five-figure sum to the same person.

These five victims may just be the tip of the iceberg. We do not know the total number of victims. The reason is that the police do not investigate such cases.

My daughter-in- law was told by the police that such cases are known as a "breach of agreement" and thus, will not be investigated.

She was advised to make a report to the Consumers Association of Singapore and to engage a lawyer if she wished to pursue the matter further.

In cases like this, many are unable or unwilling to do so as the legal fees are high. This leaves the perpetrators free from facing justice, only to strike again at another time.

I later went to the Commercial Affairs Department to discuss the incident with an officer there and was told the same thing.

The law in Singapore is such that the police will only investigate if cheating is suspected.

I am perplexed. If someone collects a deposit for work to be done and refuses to do anything, is that not considered cheating?

The law needs to be amended to protect those who fall prey to unethical individuals or companies.

Albert Wong Kwan Wei