Internal dispute to blame for woes: Furniture firm director

The director of the furniture firm that was the subject of an alert from the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) blamed an internal dispute for its problems while saying the company intends to give refunds to all affected customers.

Mr Ken Lim, director of Milan Furnishings, told The Straits Times yesterday that there was a dispute between him and a Malaysian shareholder of the company which left him unable to access the funds needed to pay suppliers and refund customers.

"I'm doing what I can. I'm trying to be fair to the customers and do what is right. I just need time," he said.

On Tuesday, Case issued a company alert on the Gambas Crescent firm after receiving complaints from seven customers since April 12. The grievances include delayed furniture delivery and unrefunded deposits.

One of the affected customers, housewife Nooralisa Ali, 33, said Milan Furnishings required her to pay in full before they would deliver the $2,000 bed she had ordered in December and then failed to deliver the bed on at least two occasions.

In March this year, after a second delay in the delivery, she demanded a refund.

The company refused, instead promising to deliver the bed on April 1.

PLEADING FOR TIME

I'm doing what I can. I'm trying to be fair to the customers and do what is right. I just need time.

MR KEN LIM, director of Milan Furnishings, saying he will settle the refunds out of his own pocket by September this year.

Her husband Muhd Hazahar Halid, 36, and their three young children then went to the store. However, he said, a worker there again refused to issue a refund.

Mr Hazahar, a truck driver, took to Facebook a few days later to complain and quickly started to receive messages from other customers who had similar experiences with Milan Furnishings.

The case was taken to the Small Claims Tribunals. The company did not show up at the court date on April 24. The tribunal ordered the company to pay a sum to Mr Hazahar.

Mr Lim said no representative attended the hearing because they intended to issue a refund.

Amid the to-ing and fro-ing , customers told ST that they noticed Milan Furnishings had closed but a new furniture store opened last month in the same building with some of the personnel from Milan Furnishings.

Mr Lim is the general manager of the new store, Home Pro Furnishings, while the showroom manager of Milan Furnishings, Mr Toh Hong Poh, is registered as the director of Home Pro Furnishings.

Mr Lim insists that Home Pro Furnishings is an independent company from Milan Furnishings, and that Home Pro Furnishings' funds will not be used to refund the Milan Furnishings customers.

Mr Lim said he will settle the refunds out of his own pocket by September this year.

Melanie Bickham

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2018, with the headline 'Internal dispute to blame for woes: Furniture firm director'. Print Edition | Subscribe