SINGAPORE - The Energy Market Authority (EMA) has flagged false claims made on a website touting a purported power-saving device about electricity consumption here, and urged consumers to consider other ways to save on their power bills.
Advertisements for the device, called Voltex, claim that it helps users shave up to 90 per cent off their electricity bills, and have been making the rounds online recently.
The product looks like a plug that is inserted into a power socket and is being sold for $74 each, which its website claims is a 50 per cent discount.
An advertorial on the site says that "most Singaporeans are overpaying for electricity by a whopping $27.6 billion dollars per year", citing an unnamed study.
It goes on to suggest that the "Public Utility Commission" has not done anything to address this.
EMA told The Straits Times last week that these claims are false.
The authority said that an electricity price chart shown on the Voltex website does not correspond with Singapore's electricity prices.
"The total value of electricity sold in Singapore is $10 billion a year, so it is not possible for Singaporeans to be overpaying $27.6 billion," said an EMA spokesman.
He added that the Public Utility Commission does not exist here and that the Singapore electricity market is regulated by EMA.
The Government's fact-checking website Factually also said in a post on Sunday (June 20) that there are identical pages on the Voltex website customised for people from different countries, such as Australia, Britain and the United States.
These other pages bear the same electricity price chart as the one for Singapore, and also sport the same $27.6 billion figure.
A check found that one such page replaces mentions of "Singaporeans" with "Americans" while keeping much of the text the same.
The Factually post calling out "false and misleading" websites like Voltex's said that many websites that claim to sell so-called power-saving devices, which promise significant savings in electricity bills, "have turned out to be scams".
"The scammers behind these devices are known to change the names of their devices and websites when their claims are challenged," said the post.
EMA said such devices are also unlikely to work as claimed.
The authority advised consumers to instead visit the Energy Efficient Singapore website for energy-saving tips.
They can also get safety tips on household electrical products at the Consumer Product Safety Office's website.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said that it has not received any complaints regarding the Voltex device and its purported power-saving benefits.
But it advised consumers who want to buy products to cut their power consumption to do their own research to verify the truthfulness of claims made.
"As part of their research, they should read authentic, independent and verified reviews and disregard reviews which may not be genuine," said Case president Melvin Yong.
Consumers should also look out for red flags such as misspelt words, as well as use of words and phrases that may sound vague or too good to be true.
These warning signs might suggest that the website or an e-commerce platform is not legitimate, said Mr Yong.
He also advised consumers to patronise websites or shopping platforms with clear return and exchange policies for defective goods, and a proper way to handle disputes.
"They should also note that if they were to purchase from an overseas merchant, it may be difficult for them to seek recourse," added Mr Yong.
For electrical and electronic products, consumers should only buy products with the Safety Mark administered by Enterprise Singapore (ESG).
Generally, power-saving devices are not listed as controlled goods that ESG regulates and so would not bear a Safety Mark.
Case said that for consumers who want to save on power bills, they could consider buying or using energy-efficient products with the National Environment Agency's Energy Label.