The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has obtained an injunction against a furniture businessman to stop him from engaging in unfair practices.
This is the first time it has taken such action against an individual.
In a statement yesterday, it said that it had obtained the injunction against Mr Chiok Wee Juo, the sole proprietor of furniture stores Olena, Bez Gallery and The Exquisite Promenade.
Case had received 44 complaints against his three firms between 2008 and August.
In most of the cases, Mr Chiok persuaded the customers to fork out the full sum for goods up front.
If an injunction is taken against an individual, it means he cannot engage in unfair practices wherever he goes.
CASE'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SEAH SENG CHOON
He would then arrange for the item to be delivered at a later date.
The items would not arrive by the promised date. Then, often, a totally different item - in colour, model or size - from the one ordered would be delivered.
The injunction means he cannot tell customers that an item is available when it is not, or mislead them about the origin of his goods. He also cannot collect pre-payments, or deposits, that exceed 20 per cent of the item's price.
If a larger deposit is required, the entire sum must be paid into an account held by Case, which will transfer the money to the business only after it is satisfied that the items have been delivered and accepted.
The order also applies to Mr Chiok's wife, Ms Huang Xiaohua, and their staff.
Case's executive director Seah Seng Choon said that such action was taken against Mr Chiok as an individual because he was running several firms with a number of people under him "committing the same misleading acts".
"We wanted to make sure that if he sets up a new company, he does not continue the misleading acts."
Case has taken out injunctions against five firms so far. They are different from individual ones.
Mr Seah said: "If an injunction is taken against an individual, it means he cannot engage in unfair practices wherever he goes."
Case said that although an injunction was in force, people who have suffered losses as a result of Mr Chiok's actions should file their claims at the Small Claims Tribunal.