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Fire extinguisher supplier that misled consumers ordered to cease unfair practices

Fire extinguisher supplier that misled consumers ordered to cease unfair practices

File photo of fire extinguishers. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: A company that conducted unsolicited door-to-door sales of fire extinguishers has been found to have "persistently" engaged in unfair practices by making false and misleading claims.

Among other unfair practices, employees of Fire Safety & Prevention (SG) were found to have told consumers that it would soon be mandatory for each household to own a fire extinguisher.

They also claimed that their company was affiliated with or approved by the authorities when it was not, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) said on Monday (Oct 11).

Kelvin Tan Yaosheng, a sole-proprietor trading under the business name Fire Safety & Prevention (SG), has been ordered to stop engaging in any unfair trade practices, added CCCS. 

The competition watchdog said investigations against the company began in March last year.

This was around the same time when the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) published an advisory alerting consumers to the unfair practices of certain suppliers of fire extinguishers, including Fire Safety & Prevention (SG).

Investigations revealed that either Tan or his former employees - Adrian Tan Wei Liang, Chai Ri Jou or Zack Chai, and Alex Neo Boon Chong - engaged in various unfair practices in the course of selling fire extinguishes to consumers. 

They had represented to consumers that their company was affiliated with or approved by the Government, the Singapore Civil Defence Force or various community centres to sell fire extinguishers, when it was not, CCCS said.

They also told customers that each household was required to own a fire extinguisher by a certain date, even though there was no such law or regulation.

CCCS added that the group claimed that PAssion or NTUC cardholders, members of the Pioneer Generation or Singaporeans were entitled to a discount, although no such discount existed.

The men were also found to have initially quoted consumers a price of S$17.90 for a fire extinguisher, before subsequently charging a higher amount of S$179 for the same item. 

These individuals also said the fire extinguishers were non-refundable.

Consumers have the right to cancel the purchase of such fire extinguishers and obtain a refund, said CCCS.

Tan and his former employees also told customers that they would be able to enjoy free annual replacements or servicing of fire extinguishers purchased from the company.

However, a replacement would only be provided if the relevant fire extinguisher had certain defects or was used under certain circumstances, added CCCS.

Following investigations, CCCS commenced legal proceedings before the State Courts.

Tan, trading as Fire Safety & Prevention (SG), was declared to have engaged in unfair practices. He was ordered to stop engaging in these unfair practices and any other unfair practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act.

Adrian Tan, Zack Chai and Alex Neo were ordered to stop abetting or aiding the company to engage in any of the unfair practices they have been involved in, as well as any other unfair practices under the same Act. 

Over the next two years from the date of the court order on Sep 7, the four men must also notify CCCS on any changes related to their employment status, directorship, partnership and ownership of a business.

CCCS will not hesitate to take action against "persistently" errant suppliers, said its chief executive Sia Aik Kor.

“Businesses should provide clear and accurate information on the prices, discounts and rights relating to their goods and services. They should not make false or misleading representations concerning the need for goods and services, or their affiliation to other organisations,” Ms Sia added. 

Source: CNA/ng(zl)


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