Protect consumers from unfair business practices

A photo taken in 2017 showing shoppers at Orchard Road.
A photo taken in 2017 showing shoppers at Orchard Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

The authorities can do more to ensure that organisations conduct their business fairly, and inform the public if they do not do so.

Here are some cases in point.

Some telecom operators do not inform a consumer who is on, say, a 2GB monthly data plan when he has reached the limit.

The consumer may not know he has used additional data until he gets his bill at the end of the month.

One telco that makes sure customers are not caught unawares is Circles.Life. It will not proceed further from a subscribed plan unless the consumer says so.

Another example: Some banks offer higher interest rates on "fresh funds" as a marketing promotion. This excludes the money you already have in the bank. It is only when a customer threatens to withdraw all his money that the bank may consider his funds "fresh".

Another unfair banking practice is to revert the interest rate of fixed deposits to board rate, which is usually lower, upon their maturity even though the promotion is ongoing. Unless the customer visits the bank on the deposit's maturity date, he will not continue to enjoy the promotional rate. This is deceitful on the part of the bank.

More proactive steps should be taken to ensure that organisations do not take advantage of consumers.

Lim Poh Seng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2019, with the headline 'Protect consumers from unfair business practices'. Print Edition | Subscribe