Plug any loopholes in changes to consumer laws

Any punitive action taken against traders indulging in unfair practices is welcome news ("Better protection against errant retailers"; Tuesday).

However, I have reservations about the effectiveness of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Amendment) Bill, which will come down hard on errant retailers who, after being ordered to close their shops, reopen them under a different name.

What if such retailers reopen shops using the names of family members and friends, or become silent partners in the business?

One area that needs clarification is whether these errant business owners will be charged if they reopen their shops, but deal in entirely different merchandise, say, changing from selling mobile phone products to selling sports apparel.

If there are loopholes in the Bill through which businessmen can circumvent the law, it will not deter shop owners from continuing with their unfair practices.

Separately, there are also cases of traders who fail to settle consumer claims after they have been instructed by the Small Claims Tribunal to pay up.

Tougher action must be taken against such undesirable businessmen who blatantly ignore a court order. While consumer laws introduced in the interest of the people (including tourists) are welcome, there should not be any element of ambiguity which people can exploit for their selfish ends.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2016, with the headline 'Plug any loopholes in changes to consumer laws'. Print Edition | Subscribe