Overall consumer complaints fell by 9.7 per cent in 2015, motorcar industry still top source of complaints: Case

Complaints against the motorcar sector shot up 37.6 per cent, with most of them involving second-hand cars.
Complaints against the motorcar sector shot up 37.6 per cent, with most of them involving second-hand cars. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Fewer complaints were made against the timeshare industry last year, as it dropped out of the industry complaints ranking list for the first time in over 10 years.

According to statistics from the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), timeshare complaints dropped by 38.3 per cent over the previous year, which the consumer watchdog attributed to its efforts to tackle errant companies, including taking out injunctions against several firms in recent years.

Complaints against the motorcar sector shot up 37.6 per cent, from 2,112 in 2014 to 2,907 last year. It retains the top position in Case's industry ranking for the fourth year in a row.

The main complaints against the industry related to defective goods, and about 70 per cent of cases taken up by Case involved second-hand cars.

Rounding up the top three sectors with most complaints are electronics with 1,668 and beauty with 1,664, though both saw a slight dip over the previous year. Several other sectors also saw a fall in complaints, including travel and handphones.

Making its entry to the top 10 list for the first time was the clubs sector, with 623 complaints received. About 90 percent of complaints were against fitness clubs, and mostly related to membership termination issues, Case said.

Overall consumer complaints received by Case fell by 9.7 per cent to 22,319, though the number of filed cases went up 45.3 per cent to 2,006 last year.

The statistics were released at a carnival held by Case at Chinatown Point on Sunday (March 13) to celebrate World Consumer Rights Day, as well as Case's 45th anniversary.

Case president Lim Biow Chuan said that better consumer education has led to both an overall drop in complaints and an increase in filed cases.

"The lemon law has empowered consumers to feel that if I have a basis for my complaint then I want Case to help push for my rights," he said at the event.

Mr Lim, who is also Deputy Speaker of Parliament and Mountbatten MP, said that the long-troubled timeshare industry falling out of the top 10 complaint rankings was cause for celebration.

"What we are seeing today is an outcome of better education, better legislation to protect consumers and also constant legal action against the recalcitrant timeshare companies."

However, he added that the increase in motorcar complaints was a cause for concern.

Noting that most complaints related to second hand cars, he said: "The reality is that second hand cars are not so straight forward, a lot depends on the age of the car. So we are still exploring with the Singapore Vehicle Traders Association to see what we can do to bring complaints down."

"But for things like reporting that a car has not been involved in an accident when it has, that one I think is dishonesty and we want to go after that."