More needs to be done to protect consumers' prepayments

We agree with Mr Albert Wong Kwan Wei that the issue of companies closing down or becoming uncontactable after collecting prepayment ought to be addressed ("Do more to protect consumers from firms that cheat"; Forum Online, Sept 27).

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has lobbied for such prepayment to be protected under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, which is currently being updated.

While that is taking place, our CaseTrust accreditation scheme for spas and wellness businesses continues to provide some measure of protection for customers.

These businesses are required to buy insurance to protect consumers' prepayment or join a programme where prepayments are held by EZ-Link as a custodian.

These measures assure consumers of refunds of the unutilised amount of the prepaid packages, should the businesses abruptly cease operations.

We would like to see such protection extended to all industries that collect prepayment.

Meanwhile, consumers who patronise businesses that require prepayment without protection can still protect themselves. They can negotiate to pay a small deposit instead of the full amount upfront before the good or service is delivered.

They can also purchase insurance, if available. Also, they can do their own research, such as checking popular online forums, on whether the business has a track record of delivering its goods or services promptly.

Lim Biow Chuan

President

Consumers Association of Singapore