SINGAPORE: The consumer watchdog in Singapore has raised the alert on Danish online retailer Lux International Sales ApS, after receiving complaints by customers who said they were sent payment notices even though they did not agree to the purchases.
"Consumers reported that they had to enter their personal information in order to view their prices of the products. Upon viewing the prices, they did not proceed but were still charged anyway," said the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) in an advisory on Tuesday (Jan 8).
LuxStyle would allegedly post the goods to consumers along with an invoice demanding payment.
CASE said it first started receiving complaints in November 2016, adding that it issued a consumer alert against LuxStyle in May 2017. Since then, there have been an additional 18 complaints against the retailer, said CASE.
Customers were also sent reminders demanding payment.
When consumers wrote in to say they did not make the order, they were told to return the package at their own cost.
Last month, CASE said it was alerted to instances where consumers received letters from debt collection agency Collectius CMS, asking for immediate payment for debt allegedly owed to Digital Sourcing ApS, formerly known as LuxStyle.
CASE added that it got in touch with Collectius CMS which has since stopped all related debt recovery action.
"Any consumer who made payment to Collectius CMS on this matter should be refunded in full," said the consumer watchdog.
"Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, a business cannot assert the right to payment for providing unsolicited goods or services.
"Hence, consumers are not obliged to make payment for unsolicited goods, until and unless they have given express agreement for the purchase," said CASE.
LUXSTYLE "PROFOUNDLY REJECTS" ALLEGATIONS
In response to Channel NewsAsia's queries, LuxStyle said on Wednesday that it "profoundly reject(s) all notions that Lux International Sales ApS or any entity within the Lux Group of companies would participate in anything that could be labelled a scam".
It added that in order to make a purchase, customers had to fill in their details, order the goods they want and then choose a payment method, including a payment by invoice option.
"It is technically impossible to order just by clicking on an add or banner and filling in contact details," said the company.
INTERNATIONAL WATCHDOGS, INTERNET USERS TAKE ACTION
However, CASE is not the only consumer watchdog that has issued advisories on LuxStyle.
Agencies in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Finland and Denmark have also issued similar warnings.
"LuxStyle advertised its products on social media, directing potential customers to a website that did not display prices unless the consumer entered a mailing address and an email address," said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
"Consumers have complained that even though they did not proceed to order or purchase the goods and simply closed down the website window after viewing the price of the product, LuxStyle then posted the goods to consumers along with an invoice demanding payment and followed this up with subsequent invoices if consumers did not pay," it added.
The Danish Consumer Ombudsman said in December 2017 that it had reported Luxstyle ApS and Lux International Sales ApS to the police for "sending unsolicited goods along with a demand for payment".
However, LuxStyle added on Wednesday that the Danish police did not indict the company after questioning and investigating it.
A check by Channel NewsAsia showed that the online websites for both LuxStyle New Zealand and Australia were still functioning, with claims of "low shipping costs" worldwide, price matching and five-star reviews from customers.
Many consumers have also rallied online through designated Facebook groups to raise awareness about LuxStyle's practices. These groups feature claims from consumers worldwide on their experiences with the Danish retailer as well as updates on complaints by customers.