SINGAPORE: The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) on Tuesday (Feb 23) issued an alert against a vendor selling alkaline water systems, after several consumers lodged complaints saying it made misleading claims and was unresponsive.
CASE received 86 consumer complaints against Triple Lifestyle Marketing between Jan 1 last year and Jan 31 this year, it said in a news release.
The company, Triple Lifestyle Marketing, sells long-term maintenance service packages for alkaline water systems through door-to-door sales. Customers pay about S$3,000 for a package in most cases, with the option to pay upfront or make monthly installments.
In return for signing the packages, consumers will receive a water dispenser, a water filtration system and periodic water filter replacements free of charge, CASE said. As part of the service agreement, the company is also required to repair the water dispenser or water filtration system, if there are defects.
Most of the complaints involved instances where consumers alleged that the company was either unresponsive to repeated attempts to contact them to arrange for service requests for a water filter replacement or repair of faulty products, or did not show up for appointments.
“In some cases, Triple Lifestyle Marketing did not provide replacements after they had collected the faulty products,” CASE said.
“This was despite representations by Triple Lifestyle Marketing during the sales process that they would repair the water dispensers or water filtration systems if defects occurred.”
Customers also reported that the company “made other misleading claims during the sales process”.
“For instance, consumers alleged that Triple Lifestyle Marketing told them that they can pay for the packages via installments, but subsequently charged them the full amount upfront,” CASE said.
It added that a few customers also complained of receiving used water dispensers or water filter replacements when this was not previously communicated to them.
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WARNING LETTER ISSUED TO COMPANY: CASE
A warning letter was issued to Triple Lifestyle Marketing in July last year in response to the complaints, CASE said.
“CASE had informed the company on the number of complaints received by consumers, and their obligations under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. CASE had also urged the company to cease the unfair practices,” it said.
Under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, it is an unfair practice for a supplier to do or say anything, or omit to do or say anything, if as a result a consumer might reasonably be deceived or misled.
It is also an unfair practice for a supplier to represent that goods are new or unused if they are not, and to represent the availability of facilities for repair of goods or of spare parts for goods if that is not the case.
However, the association said it continued to receive complaints against Triple Lifestyle Marketing despite the warning letter.
CASE then asked the company to enter into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement (VCA) as provided for under the Act to cease its unfair practices and to compensate affected consumers.
“Despite repeated engagements by CASE since September 2020, Triple Lifestyle Marketing has not signed the VCA,” CASE said.
“CASE will continue to monitor the complaints received against Triple Lifestyle Marketing and is evaluating further action to be taken against the company as provided for under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act to protect the interests of consumers.”
It also encouraged consumers to contact CASE for assistance if they encounter such practices.