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Singapore Tourism Board acts on Traveller Complaints

Search ASIA Travel Tips .com 18 September 2003

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is to take tougher actions against errant retailers who repeatedly subject tourists to their unethical retail practices. STB has received over 800 complaints from the 8 million tourists Singapore received last year, of which more than 50% were retail-related, with a high proportion of cases coming from the electronic goods sector. As a ratio to the number of visitors, the number of complaints received is not large, but STB regards every complaint received as one case too many.

Since June 2003, letters from the STB have been sent to over 50 retail establishments that have been complained against by tourists, to inform them of possible blacklisting. The first 'blacklist' will be carried in the October issues of publications such as The Real Destination Singapore brochure and the Official Map of Singapore. STB will also publish the blacklist monthly on its website, Information on errant retailers will also be made available on a monthly basis at the Singapore Visitors Centres and through the Touristline at 1800-736 2000.

STB has taken over the responsibility of the handling of complaints against retailers by tourists from the Retail Promotion Centre since May 2003, and has been representing tourists at the Small Claims Tribunals. A special hotline number, 1800-736 3366, has been set up recently to assist tourists who have had bad experiences during their stay in Singapore.

Elaborating on STB's decision to take a tougher stand against errant retailers, Mr Lim Neo Chian, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of the STB said:

"We are very committed to ensuring visitors have a memorable stay in Singapore and are serious about addressing the problem of errant retailers. Each year, the Board spends millions of dollars encouraging and attracting people from around the world to visit Singapore for amongst other things, the warmth and friendliness of Singaporeans. Our reputation as a fun and friendly city-state is at stake if errant retailers are allowed to continue unethical retail practices; causing grievance to visitors."

Recently, the Board went as far as assisting an Australian tourist to lodge a civil suit against the House of Cameras and Electronics Pte Ltd, a retailer located at Lucky Plaza Shopping Centre. STB has received more than 40 complaints against this shop in 2002 and over 15 complaints from January to August 2003.

STB is also looking forward to the proposed Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, which aims to make it easier for consumers, including tourists, to obtain civil remedies should they encounter unethical practices by retailers.

In addition to the new measures which aim at reducing the number of errant retailers, the Board will also assist tourists in making more informed decisions when shopping for electrical and electronic products among other consumer goods in Singapore. A Marketing and Tourist-education campaign will be launched in October 2003 by STB's Tourism Shopping division. The campaign will focus on disseminating information such as shopping tips and recommended shopping destinations for electrical and electronic goods.

Organisations such as the Sim Lim Square Traders' Association, which counts tourists as a key consumer group for electronic goods sold by its member retailers, will also be launching a Star Retailers Programme in October 2003 to encourage good retail practices. Member retailers will offer a money-back guarantee (terms and conditions may apply) for any product sold above certain recommended retail prices. Shoppers can pick up lists detailing participating retailers, errant retailers and other information at the Sim Lim Square information counter.

"Apart from implementing tougher measures against errant retailers, we also want to reward retailers who demonstrate good retail practices. This is in line with STB's initiatives, the Art of Service and the Tourism Awards, to encourage strong work ethics in the tourism workforce and to raise the overall service quality of the industry. Working closely with the industry, we are confident that with these measures and incentive programmes will significantly reduce the in place, there will be a significant decline in the total number of complaints against retailers within a year and enhance Singapore's position as a choice shopping destination in the region.." said Mr Lim.

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