HDB lifts: Feedback sought on issue of spare parts

Some lift manufacturers have allegedly refused to supply spare parts to third-party contractors.
Some lift manufacturers have allegedly refused to supply spare parts to third-party contractors.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

An alleged refusal by some lift manufacturers to supply spare parts for the maintenance of lifts in Housing Board estates to third-party contractors has prompted the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) to take action.

A lift manufacturer has an advantage when tendering for maintenance contracts, as it has the parts for its own brand of lifts.

The commission is seeking public feedback on proposals to address the issue and had earlier launched anti-competition probes on some companies supplying spare parts for lifts to HDB blocks. It is looking at practices, including the alleged refusal to supply vital parts such as motherboards to third-party lift maintenance contractors here.

These parts are required for the maintenance and servicing of lifts installed in HDB estates.

The practice may have prevented the third-party contractors from competing for contracts to maintain and service lifts of particular brands installed in HDB estates.

Each HDB estate typically has multiple brands of lifts installed. Town councils can choose to either appoint the original lift installers to undertake the maintenance services, or appoint a third-party contractor for the lifts within the estate.

In a statement yesterday, the competition watchdog said: "If a lift company or distributor does not provide proprietary but essential lift spare parts to third-party lift maintenance contractors, other lift maintenance contractors may be prevented from effectively competing for contracts to maintain and service lifts of that particular brand in Singapore."

The commission... is looking at practices, including the refusal to supply vital parts such as motherboards to third-party lift maintenance contractors here.

To address the competition concerns, lift parts suppliers BNF Engineering and C&W Services have proposed voluntary commitments to sell spare parts of the relevant brands to a purchaser, subject to certain terms and conditions.

The terms and conditions address issues such as the supplying of parts on a reasonable and non-discriminatory basis and ensuring that the purchaser of parts is adequately qualified to service the lifts.

They also include clarifying liability, ensuring spare parts are not modified or used for other lift brands and seeking consent from the owner of the lift being repaired.

CCS will decide whether to accept or reject each of the proposed commitments following the market consultation.

The public consultation will close on Nov 28.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2017, with the headline 'HDB lifts: Feedback sought on issue of spare parts'. Print Edition | Subscribe