The sound problems which plagued Mandopop king Jay Chou's concert two years ago at National Stadium returned for his The Invincible gig last Saturday night at the same venue. And some fans are not taking it lying down.
An online petition was set up at www.gopetition.com on Sunday for refunds to be made by organiser Multimedia Entertainment and for the Singapore Sports Hub to "give answers for repeated poor standards of concerts held at the National Stadium". More than 1,500 signatures have been collected so far.
The gig was a sold-out affair with a crowd size of 40,000. Tickets cost between $92 and $342, inclusive of the booking fee.
Mr Goh Ying Sheng, 28, who created the petition, was not keen on attending the concert at first. This was because his previous experience of Chou's 2014 Opus 2 gig at the National Stadium was marred by sound which was "not clear, not sharp".
He changed his mind when he saw that the seating plan indicated the presence of additional speakers. The media producer paid $122 and ended up seated "higher than the position of the speakers", adding that he could not hear the music at all. He was also unhappy that his seat essentially offered a restricted view of what was happening on stage even though it was not indicated as such.
Of the decision to start a petition, he said: "Many times, we consumers feel very helpless in such a situation. The most we can do is complain online. I feel that businesses take us for granted because they think we can't do anything."
He added: "At a minimum, a 50 per cent refund would make reasonable sense. Technically, we paid for something we didn't get."
A statement from Singapore Sports Hub and Multimedia Entertainment noted that concertgoers in "some sections" had issues with the sound. It pointed out that this was despite efforts at improving the situation from the Opus 2 concert.
"The concert organiser had engaged sound engineers from abroad to provide advice on the sound system and set-up; based on this, the quality of speakers was improved from Opus 2 and some of the speaker locations were changed (so as to minimise obstruction of views)."
The Consumers Association of Singapore's executive director Seah Seng Choon said that getting a refund due to a poor sound system can be "challenging", particularly when the terms and conditions do not explicitly spell out the redress process for such a scenario.
He added: "Having said this, there is no stopping the organiser from offering some form of compensation as a matter of good business practice to mitigate the unhappiness of concert participants."
Ms Tan Ya Ting, 30, is another concertgoer who did not have an optimal experience. The assistant digital marketing manager paid $202 and went because she was a fan, even though she "sort of expected" the sub-par sound, given that she had attended his previous concert at the same venue. This time round, "it was really muffled, especially on the fast songs".
She added: "You chose to go to this thing so I don't think it's fair to ask for a refund."
Others did not let the problematic audio mar their enjoyment of the show. Housewife Mabel Lee, 29, said the concert was "not too bad". She said of the sound: "I could barely make out the words sung or spoken. The clearest things I heard were the bass and drums."
Still, she was charmed by the segment in which Chou sang duets with a few members of the audience.
Some would think very hard about going for another concert at the National Stadium though.
Ms Tan said: "If there are concerts held at this venue, I will be very hesitant about going. You're really not getting the full experience."